In香港特別行政區 訴 易金雄 HCMA 191/2016, the defendant was convicted of dangerous driving for deliberately braking in front of another car multiple times. A sentence of 2 months’ imprisonment suspended for 18 months was imposed on the defendant on appeal.
Under s37 of Road Traffic Ordinance, the conviction of dangerous driving has a maximum of 3 years’ imprisonment. In s36, a conviction of causing death by dangerous driving could amount to maximum imprisonment for 10 years. According to s36A, the conviction of causing grievous bodily harm by dangerous driving could lead to a maximum fine of $50,000 and 7 years’ imprisonment. The test for dangerous driving is whether the way the defendant drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver. Some common examples include racing, running red lights deliberately, excessive speeding and driving an overloaded vehicle.
However, there are situations where it is possible that defendants would be convicted of a lesser offence of careless driving. The court would consider the circumstances such as the condition and traffic on the road at the time of the incident. Other relevant factors would also be taken into account. In the case of HKSAR v Ng Siu Bun  HKCA 1457, the defendant was substituted with the conviction of careless driving. Although the defendant’s driving was careless, he did not infringe any traffic regulations at the time. It could not be said that he had fallen below what would have been expected of a competent and careful driver. Furthermore, testimonies of expert witness to support the defendant’s claim would also be considered by the court.
In an English case of R v Cooksley  3 All ER 40, the court listed out aggravating factors for imposing a heavier sentence even if there is no serious injury or death caused, including consumption of drugs or alcohol and prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of bad driving. In Secretary for Justice v Poon Wing Kay  1 HKLRD 660, it mentioned that inappropriate use of a motor vehicle could lead to killing or injuring the public and there would be grave consequences from acts of dangerous driving so it would be necessary for a heavy sentence to have a deterrent effect. On the other hand, factors that could reduce the sentence include having a good driving record, having an absence of previous conviction, pleading guilty or showing genuine remorse.
To conclude, the court would consider on a case-by-case basis when deciding on the conviction and sentence. Depending on the evidence and circumstances of the case, it is possible to be given a lesser conviction and sentence when encountering the conviction of dangerous driving.
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