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It has been reported that new laws are being proposed which could see motorists faced with either hefty fines or even imprisonment for drinking coffee or putting on their makeup, or on the phone whilst driving a car resulting in a crash.

The State government is wanting to create a new offence – ‘careless driving causing grievous bodily harm or bodily harm’ which means that should an accident occur, whilst a person driving is changing the radio station or grooming themselves, the driver could ultimately be facing a term of imprisonment if the crash involved death or bodily harm.

In Western Australia, the Road Traffic Act 1975 (WA) already encompasses offences such as reckless driving and dangerous driving that warrant a term of imprisonment.  Careless driving already exists in the legislation and a person found guilty of this offence only faces a maximum fine of $600.

Police Minister Liza Harvey states, “people become complacent when they are driving and driving is a very serious activity…and driving leading to death or serious injury needs a higher penalty and that is what we are going to propose”.  Representatives of State government go on to say, “[the laws] address those culpable for a road death or serious injury, where the driving is deemed careless rather than dangerous, are not receiving adequate penalties”.

Advocates against the proposed law argue that the law could see good drivers being excessively punished.  Linda Black, from the WA Bar Association, has stated, “the fact that your conduct (being momentary carelessness) may have caused an extraordinarily extreme outcome, doesn’t mean our laws should punish with you in such an extremely serious way”.

The opposing arguments raised are “there may not be any malice involved from the individual who caused the crash, but there has to be responsibility” as stated by Tom Davies, founder of Enough is Enough.  He adds, “the reality is you’re taking your attention off the road…where it needs to be on the steering wheel and what is happening around you”.

Ms Harvey states that she plans on introducing the proposed legislation to State parliament in the near future.  Lawson Legal will keep you posted on this issue.

Should you, or anyone you know, need any help in relation to traffic offences, or any other criminal matters, contact Lawson Legal for your free initial consultation with one of our experienced criminal lawyers.