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Texting while driving – Traffic offences

In WW v R 9/8/12 [2012] NSWCCA 165 A was sentenced to two years and nine months imprisonment for failing to stop after an accident in October 2009 when he was 17 in which he killed a cyclist. On the count of dangerous driving causing death “the [A] was sentenced to imprisonment with a non-parole period of 4 years, commencing 1 January 2012 and expiring 31 December 2015, with a balance of term of 3 years expiring 31 December 2018. The overall sentence was a non-parole period of 5 years, with a balance of term of 3 years. His Honour also imposed a licence disqualification of 6 years commencing 19 April 2011. A only pleaded guilty to failing to stop. “In assessing moral culpability, his Honour appropriately took into account that the [A] was never licensed to drive, had been convicted on two occasions of driving while unlicensed and yet shortly before the accident had purchased the car which was involved. The [A’s] failure to stop was relevant, although its importance was limited given that it formed the basis of the second offence. His Honour considered that the deliberate use of a telephone to text a message so that the driver was totally oblivious to the fact that the car had moved onto the incorrect side of the road and had thereby lost control of the car, was an important factor in his assessment of the moral culpability of the [A] as high. That was a conclusion well open … [A]n activity which so occupies the attention of a driver that he does not or cannot observe the road for at least six – nine seconds and allows his vehicle to veer onto the wrong side of the road is tantamount to driving with one's eyes closed. It is an activity deliberately undertaken and it is an activity which is highly dangerous. The fact that many young people misguidedly engage in such an activity while driving does not reduce the moral culpability of the conduct” @79-81. Appeal dismissed.