The Senate votes to create an offense of “road homicide” and reopens the debate on minimum penalties

The senatorial right has tried to establish minimum penalties for drivers responsible for road accidents, whatever the circumstances.



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An damaged car in Bohtmte (Germany), January 16, 2024. (IMAGO/FOTOSTAND / REISS / MAXPPP)

The Senate approved the creation of a new qualification of “road homicide” for road accidents on Wednesday March 27. The upper house, however, clearly broadened the scope of this offense, at the initiative of the right, which also tried to reestablish minimum penalties, without success.

The text aimed to respond to a request from victims’ associations who no longer support the legal qualification of “involuntary homicide” in the case of road deaths, by replacing it with the essentially symbolic notion of “road homicide” when one or more several aggravating circumstances exist, such as speeding or drug consumption. But the right, the majority in the Senate, has largely reworked the text, to integrate this new name “all attacks on persons committed by a driver”including for example in cases of fatigue while driving.

The right also proposed a minimum sentence of two years’ imprisonment for certain cases of “road homicide”, reintroducing a Sarkozy measure abandoned since 2014. “When these people are morally murderers, I consider that changing the law without changing anything about the penalties is not enough”defended the rapporteur of the text, Francis Szpiner. “We are in the process of making a consensual text into an exceptional text”was annoyed by the Minister of Justice, Eric Dupond-Moretti, who said he preferred “effectiveness to demagoguery”. This device was finally rejected in public session.

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