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Title: Can I launch private prosecution?

Date: 02 November 2011

Can I launch a private prosecution?

My son was seriously injured in an accident last year when a lady in a Range Rover pulled out into his path. She clearly did not look as she was entering the main road with a long clear distance either direction from a minor junction with give way lines and a give way sign. She was breath tested at the scene and only just passed. They started out doing her for dangerous driving but then due to a lack of independent witness evidence decided to go for driving without due care and attention. My son and I are very angry that she is not being done for dangerous driving and would like to know how we would go about a private prosecution which we have heard about.

David Evans, Powys

Answer

The police will frequently go for the best chance of achieving a prosecution. Having considered the evidence, it is clear that they consider it would be easier to succeed with a charge of driving without due care and attention than with dangerous driving. The difference lies in the burden of proof. The lesser charge requires one to drive below the standard to be expected of a reasonable driver whereas dangerous driving requires the standard to fall far below. In cases of one word against another but where the evidence suggests that one party has done wrong but that there is no persuasive evidence that the wrong was dangerous the police will go for driving without due care and attention. Whilst you could embark on a private prosecution it is (a) very expensive and (b) the CPS can take over conduct at any point (and drop it if they wish) and effectively you may find you are wasting your money. The lesser conviction will still assist the personal injury claim that your son is no doubt making.

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