IN THE HIGH COURT OF THE
HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION
COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE
MAGISTRACY APPEAL NO. 959 OF 2009
(ON APPEAL FROM ESS 27078 OF 2009)
Before: Hon Line J in Court
Date of Hearing: 12 January 2010
Date of Judgment: 12 January 2010
J U D G M E N T
1. This is an appeal against a conviction for careless driving.
2. The incident giving rise to the prosecution was a very simple one. The appellant, a young lady, was reversing out of the blockwhere she lived on her private drive when another vehicle pulled into the drive. It came in fast, I am willing to accept that, butit did come to a stop.
3. What has made everyone’s life easy is the fact that what then occurred was recorded on a CCTV tape. What that shows is this:that it was at 10:47:35 that PW1’s car appeared. At about 10:47:37 that car, PW1’s, had stopped. The collision occurred at10:47:39, because the appellant, reversing out, carried on, and the CCTV tape demonstrates that she drove into the stationary carof PW1.
4. The appellant has conducted this appeal herself in a way that has been very moderate, and has looked at the realities of it. Sheappreciates that evidence, and her point is a very simple one, that she was not given time enough to react and stop. So that isthe question I have got to decide: Was two seconds sufficient time to stop?
5. I regret to say – because the appellant has put her case very attractively – that I am against her. Two seconds is a long timeat the wheel of a motorcar, even when you are going slowly. Two seconds is time enough, if you are keeping a proper lookout, tosee the other car has stopped and to stop yourself. You cannot take two seconds to drive into a stationary vehicle and hope to avoida conviction for careless driving.
6. The appellant did have criticisms of the other driver. Even if they were well-founded it would not provide her with a defence tothe charge on the basis I have just outlined. It is thus that the appeal against conviction is dismissed.
7. The fine was $2,500. The damage caused was minor. It was to the bumper of the other vehicle that was there. Basically what theappellant says is that she has a clear record; she has not had any accidents before; it was a very slow collision and, in the circumstances,that those matters should be reflected by a fine at the bottom end of the bracket. The bracket, as I understand it is a fine fromroughly $2,000 to $5,000.
8. In those circumstances, without any criticism of the magistrate, my view is that a fine at the bottom end of the bracket would havemet with justice of the case. Accordingly, without wishing in any way to set any precedents or to alter the practice of fines forcareless driving at Eastern Magistrates’ Court, but on the individual facts of this case, I am minded to substitute a fine of $2,000for the fine of $2,500. The appeal against sentence is allowed to that extent.
Mr Martin Hui, SPP of the Department of Justice, for the Respondent
Appellant, Li Ying-wai, in person