Road rage: High Court suspends driving licence for 2 years on appeal

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A MAN who has served two months in jail for road rage offence was disqualified yesterday from holding a driving licence for two years following the prosecution’s appeal at the High Court.

The defendant Mohammad Hassanalhamizan Mohd Ibrahim was sentenced in May to serve two months in jail after he was found guilty of causing severe damage to a Lexus when he rammed his Ford Ranger into the complainant’s car three times while driving on the road some time in September 1, 2011.

Following the sentencing at the Magistrates’ Court in May, Mohammad Hassanalhamizan was not disqualified from driving as the presiding magistrate was of the view that there was “no provision” giving the court power to order disqualification.

During the appeal at the High Court, deputy public prosecutor Sharon Yeo submitted that the two months imprisonment was manifestly inadequate; that the magistrate was wrong in thinking that there was “no provision” for ordering disqualification from driving; and the defendant should be disqualified from driving.

In his verdict yesterday, Justice Dato Paduka Steven Chong said that the defendant behaved like a road bully when he showed a total disregard for his own safety and that of other road users and deliberately rammed his vehicle into the car which had overtaken him.

He went on to say that it was fortunate that no accident occurred and nobody was killed.

“There is a strong element of public interest in discouraging such displays of hooliganism on the road. As our roads become increasingly congested each year the potential for misunderstandings among motorists increases,” said Justice Dato Chong.

He further said that a minor traffic incident between two drivers should not escalate into a violent confrontation and generally, custodial sentence are to be imposed even for first offenders where there is a physical violence in cases of this nature.

Justice Dato Chong agreed in favour of the prosecution argument that the sentence of two months’ imprisonment imposed by the magistrate was unduly lenient.

He said that an appropriate sentence on the facts would have been a nine month imprisonment bearing in mind the defendant was convicted after trial. He added that a sentence of six months’ imprisonment would be proper on a guilty plea.

The court also said that the magistrate erred in not disqualifying the defendant from driving and that the accused should be disqualified for a substantial period to deter him and others who are likeminded from such “outrageous” conduct.

On the jail term the court said that it would not serve the interest of justice to re-sentence the defendant to a further term of imprisonment as Mohammad Hassanalhamizan has served the two-month in jail and moved on with his life.

“For the foregoing reasons, I allow the appeal to the extent that the defendant is disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for two years and the order is to be endorsed on his driving licence,” said Justice Dato Chong.

The Brunei Times