Legal Groundup

Legal Studies from the ground up

Application Excercise 2q

  1. For the accused, Blake Chadwick, to be found guilty of driving a motor vehicle culpably, one of the following elements needed to be established by the prosecution:
  • reckless driving – Chadwick didn’t really consciously and unjustifiably disregard a substantial risk that the death of another person, or the infliction of grievous bodily harm upon another person, might have resulted from her or his driving.
  • negligent driving – Chadwick failed to observe a ‘Stop’ sign (he failed to observe the standard of care which a reasonable person would have observed in all the circumstances of the case).
  • driving whilst under the influence of alcohol – Chadwick was impaired by alcohol (he had been drinking that afternoon and had a blood alcohol reading of 0.156 per cent).
  • driving whilst under the influence of a drug – Chadwick was not impaired by drugs.
  1. Chadwick might have used sudden or extraordinary emergency as a defence. He might have argued that he believed that there was a sudden or extraordinary emergency, that he believed that the emergency involved a risk of death or really serious injury, and that his conduct was the only way to deal with the emergency. The court would need to find that Chadwick’s conduct was a reasonable response to the emergency. Alternatively, Chadwick might have used duress as a defence. He might have argued that he acted under duress. Chadwick might have believed that there was a threat of harm, that a threat of harm would be carried out unless an offence was committed, and that committing the offence was the only reasonable way that the threatened harm could be avoided. The court would have needed to believe that the conduct was a reasonable response to the threat.
  2. Responses will vary. For example, students might point out that the judge noted that,“It is obvious that your driving skills would have been adversely affected by the amount of alcohol in your system at the time of the collision and this was a major cause of the collision…” Chadwick actually pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing death and negligently causing serious injury, and based on the comments of the judge, this should have been the case – Chadwick should have been found guilty of culpable driving causing death.
  3. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that there are emotional and/or human costs associated with people becoming more anxious or fearful driving on our roads in light of the increased risk of road accidents and trauma. In addition, dealing with a car accident is likely to be a traumatic experience for emergency workers and other road users.
  4. Responses will vary. Students might point out, for example, that the victim was a 16-month old girl whose future dreams and aspirations have been lost. Her family and friends of the family will need to deal with grief, pain, anger, distress or emotional trauma. Friends and family may also have needed to deal with the ensuing investigation and court case, which can be stressful. The offender, Blake Chadwick is also affected as he was imprisoned – this can have an effect on his family as well as his freedom. Furthermore, Chadwick will need to live with the feeling of guilt that, through his actions, he has caused someone else’s death. Students might also point out, that the financial costs associated with assistance to victims, motor vehicle insurance, as well as the identification, investigation, prosecution and prevention of crimes such as culpable driving, have a negative economic impact. There is also an increased need for emergency services, such as police, fire and ambulance services as well as the added cost to the health system as victims are hospitalised and require expensive treatment and rehabilitation over time.