Book Chapter

Whose Luck is it Anyway?



Duff RA (2008) Whose Luck is it Anyway?. In: Clarkson CMV(MV & Cunningham SR (eds.) Criminal Liability for Non-Aggressive Death. Aldershot: Ashgate, pp. 61-78.

First paragraph: Dangerous driving attracts a maximum penalty of a heavy fine, or in the most serious cases up to six months’ imprisonment; but if it causes death, the maximum penalty is fourteen years’ imprisonment. Careless driving attracts a maximum penalty of a level 4 fine; driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs attracts a maximum penalty of a level 5 fine and/or up to six months’ imprisonment: but if someone causes death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, the maximum penalty is again fourteen years’ imprisonment, and for causing death by careless driving it is five years’ imprisonment. Driving when unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified attracts maximum penalties of, respectively, a level 3 fine, a level 5 fine, and a level 5 fine and/ or six months’ imprisonment; but an unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified driver who causes death faces a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.2 The difference between causing and not causing death in such cases might be purely a matter of luck; we therefore face the familiar question of whether and how it can be consistent with the demands of penal justice to allow ‘outcome luck’ to make such a dramatic difference to an offender’s criminal liability.

; Criminal law Philosophy; Criminal liability; Criminal procedure Moral and ethical aspects

Publication date31/12/2008
Publisher URL
Place of publicationAldershot

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Professor Antony Duff

Professor Antony Duff

Emeritus Professor, Philosophy