Benefits to introducing crimes against road safety in Argentina

There is no doubt that turning an unlawful action into a crime shows utter social disdain for such action, which society is so unwilling to tolerate that sends to prison those who commit it.
To begin with, there is a different social attitude and a higher interest in punishing criminals than in punishing mere violators. In general terms, in any civilized society, anyone may be a violator, but the category of criminal is restricted to a transgressive minority that infringes fundamental rules of coexistance abided by and enforced in such countries.
From the preventive point of view, it is highly dissuasive for anyone to know that such actions are crimes, which, if committed, may result in imprisonment. Perhaps, this is the greatest benefit to introducing crimes against road safety.
Facing criminal lawsuit implies expenses (such as hiring a good lawyer), public scorn caused by having turned into a criminal and the possibility of going to jail and having criminal records. Therefore, it is much more dissuasive for most citizens than a violation or a petty offence, which are generally taken lightly by the driver and his or her social environment because in the worst case scenario (and actually, on rare occasions), the punishment will be a fine.
It is worth pointing out the incorporation of section 193bis, which prohibits, in a limited way, street races, to the Criminal Code some months ago.
 

Luchemos por la Vida’s concrete proposals

New proposed crimes:

1) Whoever drives any vehicle at a speed that exceeds by forty kilometres per hour the maximum speed permitted on a highway, route, avenue or street shall be imprisoned for... and shall be disqualified from driving for a term ranging from.... to.... years, or even disqualified from professional driving for life should the crime be committed by a professional driver or by a person who does not have any license.
2) Whoever drives any vehicle having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeding 1 gram per litre, or its equivalent in expired air, shall be imprisoned for...and shall be disqualified from driving for a term ranging from.... to.... years, or even disqualified from professional driving for life should the crime be committed by a professional driver or by a person who does not have any license.
3) Whoever drives any vehicle without ever having obtained a driving licence shall be imprisoned for ... (minor offence)
4) Whoever drives a vehicle being deprived of a driving license or disqualified from driving due to conviction, criminal punishment, loss of points of the driving license or any other kind of disqualification or punishment imposed by authorities shall be imprisoned for..., and shall be disqualified from driving for a term ranging from.... to.... years, or even disqualified from professional driving for life should the crime be committed by a professional driver or by a person who does not have any license (more serious offence than the foregoing offence).
 

Additions to the criminal laws in force:

5) In any proceeding brought against a motor vehicle driver on the charges of murder or felony battery, the judge may provisionally disqualify the defendant from driving (proffesional or not, as long as the proceeding lasts). (Such a provision is already in force under the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure and under that of the Province of Buenos Aires).
6) Amendment to section 84 of the Criminal Code: Disqualification from professional driving shall be for lifetime. (For those found guilty of murder in traffic accidents).

The proposals only relate to the actions to be punished under criminal law and are not intended to be the final version of the legal text because such a task should be carried out by our Congress, assessing and defining the extent of imprisonment and disqualification (the punishments Luchemos por la Vida proposes) in accordance with the rest of the criminal law and in the light of experience shared by countries more developed in regard to road safety.

1) is proposed as a crime in view of the fact that speeding is the leading cause of death in routes and streets. The action to be punished is, for instance, that of a person driving at more than 150 km/h on a route where the maximum is 110 km/h (independently of whether there are lower speed limits in it) or over 100 km/h on an avenue of Buenos Aires.
Crime number 4) is essential to prevent that those who have been disqualified from driving (for example, for killing someone with their vehicle) continue doing it, thanks to lack of controls. It will also be essential to ensure the effectiveness of the points system that is to be implemented and, in general, to ensure that those who have been deprived of their driving license by any administrative authority due to reckless driving stop endangering everyone’s lives and making fun of the whole society.
Owing to the seriousness and danger of behaviors 1, 2 and 4, we believe it convenient to punish the criminals with disqualification from professional driving for life. For the same reason, we propose 6) as the criminal code in force provides a maximum disqualification term of 10 years –an unreasonable limit considering that a professional driver that is liable for road deaths will be able to drive a bus or truck after ten years.
Finally, the aim of proposal 5 is to immediately disqualify provisionally those who killed or injured someone in a traffic accident rather than having to wait many years for final judgment sentencing to disqualification. We still remember the outrageous case of a bus driver who, having hit and killed a pedestrian, continued driving the bus during the proceeding and killed another person before he was convicted for the first crime.

This amendment is proposed to each Code of Procedures of the country and it should be noticed that it is already included under the Federal Code of Criminal Procedure (section 311 bis) and, recently, under that of the Province of Buenos Aires.

Luchemos por la Vida’s bill (with some amendments) is currently before Congress, in the Chamber of Deputies (comparable to House of Representatives), file number: 2615-D-2013, but has not been considered yet.