Virtual You be the Judge Culpable Driving Script

Culpable Driving

Offender: Richard (County Court)

Page 2 (Having clicked on Richard)

Video – Richard describes the circumstances of his culpable driving offence.

“I had been a driver for 15–20 years. I really loved it. It’s something I was good at I reckon. It was something I loved doing.

“While I was doing an interstate delivery, I was out in the country, so I had the cruise control on, set to 110 km per hour. I always use cruise because it helps me keep to the speed limit.

“I had driven around the corner and the sun hit me. Usually I leave my sunnies on the dashboard but they weren’t there. Then I remembered they were in my coat.

“While I was looking for my glasses, I guess I must have taken my eyes off the road for a few seconds. They told me that there were warning signs all over the road saying to reduce speed, flashing arrows, to change lanes.

“I didn’t see any of the road signs. My cruise was still on. I must have been travelling at 110 km/ph when I hit the bollards.

“I heard the noise going ‘Bang! Bang! Bang!’ under the truck, and I looked up. I saw the car and the two workers right in front of me. I put the brakes on but it was too late. Nothing I could do.

“Later they told me that one of the workers had jumped clear. The other one didn’t make it. I went right through him.”


Page 3 (Having clicked take on the case)

Video of Richard sitting in an interview room.

Voice over:

Richard pleaded not guilty to culpable driving. A jury found him guilty of the crime. This crime carries a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

As the judge, you must consider:

  • The purposes for sentencing Richard:
    • Are you wanting to punish him?
    • Deter others from committing similar crimes?
    • And what about rehabilitation?
  • Then you will have to consider many other factors to do with his background, driving history and how serious his actions were compared to others sentenced for this offence.


To find out more about sentencing options, click on the button, or select continue….

Page 4 (Having clicked to find out more)

A pop-up window describes the purposes of sentencing and sentencing factors.

Voice over:

Here are some more things to keep in mind while sentencing.


Purposes of sentencing

The only purposes for which a sentence can be imposed are:

  • Just punishment
  • Specific and general deterrence
  • Rehabilitation
  • Denunciation
  • To protect the community from the offender.

Sentencing factors

A judge must take into account these factors when sentencing:

  • Maximum penalty and current sentencing practice
  • Nature and gravity of the offence
  • Offender’s responsibility and culpability and previous character
  • If the offence was motivated by hatred or prejudice
  • Impact of the offence on any victim
  • Plea of guilty
  • Aggravating and mitigating factors.

Page 5 (Having clicked continue on page 3)

Image of a courtroom, with the prosecutor and defence lawyers at the bar table, and Richard in the interview room, all ready to answer the questions listed below their pictures.

Voice over:

To find out more, click on the questions. You will need to ask at least four questions to move on, but the more you ask, the more informed your sentencing will be.

Page 5a (Defence lawyer – first question: “Has Richard shown any remorse?”)

Video of defence lawyer speaking to the judge, answering question 1:

“Your Honour, Richard’s been a truck driver for over 20 years and has a very good work history. After all of these years of driving he has an unblemished record. He is genuinely remorseful for his actions and for causing this death.”

Page 5b (Defence lawyer – second question: “How does he feel after the collision?”)

Video of defence lawyer speaking to the judge, answering question 2:

“Richard has experienced a great deal of guilt following this death and as a consequence he suffers from post traumatic stress. This has severely impacted on his quality of life and personal relationships.

“He has been undergoing counselling and his psychologist believes his chances of recovery and prospects of rehabilitation are good.”

Page 5c (Defence lawyer – third question: “What caused him to do this?”)

Video of defence lawyer speaking to the judge, answering question 3:

“Your Honour, this is not a driver who was drunk or on drugs. This man was doing his job, he made a mistake and will pay for it for the rest of his life.”

Page 5d (Richard – first question: “Tell me about your time at school.”)

Video of Richard speaking in interview, answering question 1:

“I stayed at school until year 10. I wasn’t much of a student. It wasn’t really for me.”

Page 5e (Richard – second question: “Tell me about your family life now.”)

Video of Richard speaking in interview, answering question 2:

“I’m 41, married with three teenage children, two girls, one boy. If I go to prison, it’s going to be really tough on my wife and my kids. My boy is already being bullied at school because of what happened.”

Page 5f (Richard – third question: “Tell me about your working history.”)

Video of Richard speaking in interview, answering question 3:

“I started in the transport industry when I was 19 and I’ve been doing that ever since. I’ve really loved my job, but now I can’t seem to even get behind a steering wheel.”

Page 5g (Prosecutor – first question: “What are the details of the collision?”)

Video of the prosecutor speaking to the judge, answering question 1:

“This was not a momentary lapse of concentration, your Honour. Mr Fisher took his eyes off the road for at least 25 to 30 seconds whilst he found his sunglasses. He failed to see any of the road signs requiring speed reduction to 80 kilometres an hour and then 60 kilometres an hour. His vehicle travelled at a constant speed of 110 immediately before the collision.”

Page 5h (Prosecutor – second question: “Has he committed any other crimes?”)

Video of the prosecutor speaking to the judge, answering question 2:

“Your Honour, Mr Fisher has two prior convictions for minor dishonesty and drugs offences. He has no prior traffic convictions.”

Page 5i (Prosecutor – third question: “What sentences were recently given for similar crimes?”)

Video of the prosecutor speaking to the judge, answering question 3:

“Your Honour, in the past five years over 90% of the people sentenced for culpable driving causing death were sentenced to a period of imprisonment, with the average term being approximately six years.”

Page 6 (Having clicked continue – Victim Impact Statement)

Picture of the impact statement by the fiancée of the man who was killed.

Voice over:

Judges also need to consider the effect of the crime on the victims. This is part of the Victim Impact Statement.

Fiancée reads her statement (text on screen):

“Craig was my fiancé. He was 24 years old. He was just out there doing his job. I keep asking myself, ‘Why him?’

“I never got the chance to say goodbye and that’s something I have to live with for the rest of my life. I’m very sad and angry. We were going to get married next year, we’d already started making plans.

“My memories of Craig and the horrible accident and the tragic outcomes that it has on me and the rest of his family will haunt us forever.

“No-one will ever replace Craig for me.”

Page 7 (Having clicked continue – how to select a sentence)

Picture of the offender and a choice of sentences to choose from. They include imprisonment, community correction order and fine.

Voice over:

This crime has a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment. Which type of sentence would you choose?


How to select a sentence:

  • Cursor over sentence for more information
  • Select the sentence that best fits the crime
  • Next, you will have to select how long the sentence will be.

Imprisonment – most severe sentence. Offender loses freedom and is held in prison. Maximum 20 years.

Page 8a (Having selected imprisonment)

Picture of a sentence length sliding scale. Choose the length of imprisonment from between six months and 20 years.


How to select how long:

  1. Use the slider to select how long the sentence will be
  2. Then click continue.

Community correction order – a community correction order combines supervision with conditions that can include unpaid community work, treatment programs and curfews. Maximum 20 years.

Page 8b (Having selected community correction order)

Picture of a sliding scale indicating sentence length. Choose the length of the community correction order from between six months and 20 years.


How to select how long:

  1. Use the slider to select how long the sentence will be
  2. Then click continue.

Fine – The maximum fine for this offence is 2,400 penalty units. Fines are penalties of money that the offender must pay. The value of a fine is called a penalty unit. One penalty unit is roughly equal to $140, although the actual amount increases slightly every year.

Page 8c (Having selected fine)

Picture of a sliding scale indicating amount of fine. Choose the amount of the fine between one unit and 2,400 units.


How to select how much:

  1. Use the slider to select how much the fine will be
  2. Then click continue.

Page 9 (Having selected a sentence)

Video of Richard standing in the dock to hear his sentence from the judge.

Judge’s sentence and comments:

“Could you now please stand.

“The community is concerned and appalled at the carnage that occurs on our roads on a daily basis. That you, an experienced semi-trailer driver, could take your eyes off the road for so long almost defies belief. It must be understood that the community will not tolerate the taking of human life by the culpable driving of a motor vehicle.

“I have read the Victim Impact Statement, and acknowledge that this loss of a loved one will be with this family for the rest of their lives.

“However, I note that you have good prospects of rehabilitation. You have the support of your family. You have been employed in the transport industry for many years and had an unblemished driving record. You are genuinely remorseful for causing the death of the victim. You suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of causing the death of the victim and have required ongoing psychological treatment to address the symptoms of that disorder.

“I sentence you to serve five years’ imprisonment. I fix a minimum term of four years before you become eligible for parole.”

Voice over:

Sentencing is complex; there’s a lot to take into account. Would you like to take on another case?

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