Any serious driving violation that causes injury or death is a crime.

Firefighters and toilets attend to an injured person in an accident in Madrid. / ef

Today Congress approves a legal reform that will prevent the judge from deciding whether or not to pursue these imprudent acts; judgment will always be automatic

Alfonso Torres

Today, when a driver skips a traffic light or a stop sign and causes injury or death to a third party, in the vast majority of cases the reckless maneuver or mistake does not entail any criminal liability for the perpetrator. The usual thing is that for a driver to end up on the bench for the physical damage caused to another person with the serious violation of the traffic code, his recklessness has to be at least reckless or be accompanied by a generous consumption of alcohol or drugs .

This unjust reality, denounced by the victims' associations and the Prosecutor's Office itself, which erodes the rights of thousands of Spaniards every year, will soon be history. Congress will support a legal reform today that will make any serious offense committed by the driver of a vehicle (car, motorcycle, scooter, bicycle) that causes injury or death to a third party to always be a crime. And, therefore, that it ends, also in all cases, with the author judged, so that he faces criminal responsibility.

The change, according to the PSOE, the promoter of the new law, sends the message to citizens that "there will be no impunity for imprudence" and allows all victims, those who have money and those who do not, to see how the perpetrators answerable in court. Today, as criminal justice practically ignores these cases, the victims who can pay it have no choice but to file a lawsuit to demand compensation and civil liability.

The victims, supported by the Prosecutor's Office, denounce that the current procedure leaves them defenseless, since practically all the complaints are archived

This legal reform has a very technical content, but it could be summed up in that, once it comes into force, it will no longer be the judge who decides whether or not the serious violation of the highway code with victims is of sufficient importance to sit on the bench to its author, accused of a less serious crime of negligence. Judging it will become something automatic and obligatory for the instructor. The Justice Commission will agree today the text that in a few days the plenary session of Congress will approve and that will later be ratified by the Senate. If the senators do not introduce changes, the reform could begin to be applied this summer, or at the most with the beginning of the next course, since it will enter into force the day after it is published in the BOE.

The change acts on articles 142 and 152 of the Penal Code, which regulate, respectively, homicides and injuries caused by serious or less serious negligence. The reform, in this case, only affects the second, the less serious. Those that (because they are minor crimes) are punishable by fines, but which, depending on the case, can become very relevant.

Fast and free trial

The new wording eliminates the tagline that left it up to the judge to assess whether incorrect road behavior fits into less serious negligence. It is replaced by an automatism. If there are victims, whenever the driver commits an infraction classified by the traffic law as serious, there will be a crime and the instructor must prosecute, judge and sentence. If the victim dies, the perpetrator of these recklessness faces fines of 3 to 18 months (the judge sets the amount of euros per day) and the withdrawal of the card for the same amount of time. If the victim suffers serious or very serious injuries, the penalty will be a fine of 3 to 12 months, also with withdrawal of the license for that period.

Until now, the penalty for imprudence that causes damage that can be cured with treatment or surgery, without leaving disabilities, was a three-month fine. The reform, also at the request of the victims, reduces the penalty for recklessness with minimal damage to a one-month fine. It is a technical maneuver. By transforming the sentence into a light sanction, the crime can be resolved through a quick trial, so the victim no longer needs a lawyer or attorney and has the accusation free and insured by the prosecutor.

Thus, the perpetrators of these minor crimes will have to answer in court, something that does not happen today, since the normal thing is that either the judge does not see a relevant criminal offense or the victim lacks the resources to face the accusation. In either case, the end is identical: there is no trial and the reckless get away.

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