Drivers who caused death should receive maximum penalty

The law stipulates that the maximum penalty for causing the death of a person by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide is two years' jail and a fine.

This is an appropriate penalty only when the maximum sentence is given by the court for all driving offences that caused death by negligence.

If the negligent offence was carried out by a driver in his vehicle, then a reasonable driving ban is a lifelong ban. But even a lifelong ban on driving would be a pittance compared with a life lost because of the driver's oversight and negligence on the road.

A case reported in The Straits Times in 2016 stated that a cabby was jailed for three weeks for causing the death of a pedestrian and banned from driving for five years (Cabby jailed for causing pedestrian's death; Dec 24, 2016).

In a recent case last month, a sleepy driver who caused the death of a pedestrian was jailed for three months and banned from driving for five years (Sleepy driver who caused death of pedestrian gets 3 months' jail; May 22).

Reflecting on just these two cases where deaths were caused, I feel the current maximum penalty of two years should be given to the accused without considering court leniency.

The accused should count their blessings that they are still alive and realise it was their negligence and oversight that took a life and caused distress and emotional pain to the victim's family.

Yes, as humans we make mistakes, but for offences where the driver calls the shots on the road, justice is served only when the court gives the maximum jail sentence and a lifelong ban on driving.

Florence Veronica Minjoot (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2018, with the headline 'Drivers who caused death should receive maximum penalty'. Print Edition | Subscribe