A fatal accident in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan angered many Malaysians recently after footage of the driver driving recklessly prior to the crash went viral. Happened on 8 September 2023 and involved a 33-year-old Singaporean man driving a Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class who hit a 26-year-old Malaysian man and his 4-year-old son riding on a motorcycle.
In the aftermath, the child was sadly pronounced dead at Port Dickson Hospital while his father fractured his right shoulder and right leg. The perpetrator escaped the crash unharmed and has since been arrested by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM).
Given the driver is a foreigner and the accident caused the death of a child, many questions arise as to whether the man would face action in our country and whether he would be charged with murder. Well, given what has been reported, the man would definitely face action and punishment in Malaysia as the incident took place within our country.
However, despite causing the death of the 4-year-old boy in the accident, the 33-year-old Singaporean is unlikely to be charged with murder, but only for causing death by reckless or dangerous driving. Accordingly, should he be convicted, he may only face up to 10 years in jail and up to RM50,000 fine.
So, why is this so? Well, join us below as we delve in-depth into the relevant laws on the matter.
Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987
Given the circumstances of the fatal crash, the most relevant law is Section 41 of the Road Transport Act 1987 for causing death by reckless or dangerous driving. Specifically, Section 41(1) of the Act is as below:
Based on what has been reported regarding the incident, it is alleged that the driver had driven recklessly or at a speed or in a manner which, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and size of the road is dangerous to the public. For example, the alleged CCTV footage that has been making its rounds on social media showed that the Mercedes-Benz was driving on the road at a dangerously high speed.
Furthermore, the driver also allegedly cut in front of another vehicle before his car hit the motorcycle. As such could arguably be considered reckless driving as well.
In lieu of the above, as the crash caused the death of the 4-year-old child, it can be argued that the driver’s act or conduct fulfilled all the prescribed in the provision. The elements include driving a motor vehicle recklessly or at a speed or in a manner that is dangerous to the public, as well as causing the death of any person.
Punishment for causing death by reckless or dangerous driving
Should the driver be convicted under Section 41(1), he may face imprisonment between 5 and 10 years, as well as a fine between RM20,000 and RM50,000. Moreover, should this be a second or subsequent conviction under the same provision, he may face imprisonment between 10 and 15 years, as well as a fine between RM50,000 and RM100,000.
Besides that, Section 41 also prescribed under subsection (3) that any individual convicted be disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for 5 years from the date of conviction or 10 years if it’s a second or subsequent conviction, the revocation of a probationary driving licence should they be a holder of one as per subsection (4) and the immediate confiscation of their driving licence under subsection (5). However, given that the driver is a Singaporean and is likely to hold a Singaporean driving licence, these provisions are not applicable to him.
What’s applicable is Section 41(4), whereby the court may also convict the driver of an offence under Section 42 (reckless and dangerous driving) and Section 43 (careless and inconsiderate driving) of the same Act. Furthermore, to remove any doubts, the Road Transport Act 1987 is applicable to the man despite him being of a different nationality as the incident happened within Malaysia and the legislation applies throughout the country as per Section 1(3) below:
Why charges under murder, attempted murder or culpable homicide are unlikely
Despite the accident causing the death of the 4-year-old boy, charges under murder, attempted murder or even culpable homicide are very unlikely. Among others, this can be attributed to the lack of one key element, which is intent.
For example, Section 300 of the Penal Code which deals with murder puts heavy emphasis on the intent of the culprit below:
This emphasis on intent also features prominently in the Penal Code provisions for attempted murder and culpable homicide, hence without this element, a charge would ultimately fail. Accordingly, PDRM has also announced that the case is only being investigated under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act, meaning that as of the time of writing, the police may not have found any intent in causing the death.
Moving forward, all eyes will be on the latest developments in this case. Regardless of what happens, it is important for all members of the public to remain calm and let our legal system take its course.