J Balasubramaniam v Public Prosecutor
|27 April 1992
| SGHC 105
|24 September 2012
|High Court (Singapore)
|V Ramakrishnan (V Ramakrishnan & Co)
|Lau Wing Yum (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
GROUNDS OF DECISION
On 27 March 1992 I dismissed the appellant's application to reserve four questions of law for the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal pursuant to s 60 of the Supreme Court of Judicature Act. I did not feel it necessary to hear the learned deputy public prosecutor, but I did have the benefit of reading his written submissions. The appellant has now appealed against my decision.
The questions of law reserved are the following:
Whether spiking/lacing of a person's drink unknown to him, by another person amounts to 'special reasons' within of s 67(2) of the Road Traffic Act (Cap 276), so as to enable the court to exercise its discretion not to impose disqualification.
If the answer to Question A is Yes whether the Appellant/ Applicant has to establish:-
i) that the drink he was consuming was a non-alcoholic or a low alcoholic content beverage which was spiked/ laced with a drink of a high alcoholic content by another person OR
ii) that the drink he was consuming was of a high alcoholic content (exceeding the legal limit) to which an equally high alcoholic drink was spiked/laced by another person.
The English decisions in Williams v Neale < 1971 > RTR 149; DPP v Barker < 1990 > RTR 1 and DPP v Younas <1990> RTR 22 have not specifically dealt with the point raised in (ii) above and there being no local decision on this point, an important point of law of public importance is raised for decision.
1) Whether the Appellant/Applicant has to adduce medical/ scientific evidence to prove that if not for the spiked/ laced drink, his blood alcoholic content would not have exceeded the legal limit.
2) Whether the court, in the absence of medical/scientific evidence and the prosecution not applying for such evidence to be adduced, could find as a fact that the spiked/laced drink was the cause of the high alcoholic content in the blood, which exceeded the legal limit. (Pg 14 of the learned magistrate's grounds of decision).
Whether mens rea is a necessary ingredient in the offence provided under s 67 of the Road Traffic Act. If the answer is yes whether it could amount to a defence if it could be established that the drink was spiked/laced. (Pg 10 and 11 of the learned magistrate's grounds of decision).
1) To what extent the decisions in Williams v Neale; DPP v Barker and DPP v Younas are applicable in construing the meaning of 'special reasons' under s 67(2) of the Road Traffic Act.
2) Whether, if the prosecution failed to challenge the factual basis of the mitigation plea, the court could regard that the facts pleaded in mitigation were proved. (Pg 11 of the learned magistrate's grounds of decision). Further the appellant/Applicant's case being the first of its kind and taking into consideration the absence of local case-law in construing what amounts to 'special reasons' under s 67(2) of the Road Traffic Act; an important point of law of public interest is raised for the consideration of this Honourable Court.'
The matter arises in this way. On 28 August 1991 the appellant was charged in the magistrate's court that he on or about 11 February 1991 at about 11pm drove motor car EW 5254X along Tiong Bahru Road whilst under the influence of drink to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of the motor car. This is an offence under s 67(1) of the Road Traffic Act and is punishable, on a first conviction with a fine of not less than $1000 and not more than $5000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months. A conviction for this offence carries a compulsory disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of not less than 12 months from the date of conviction, 'unless the court for special reasons thinks fit to order otherwise'. The period of disqualification of not less than 12 months is without prejudice to the power of the court to order a longer period of disqualification < s 67(2) > .
The appellant was duly convicted of the charge of drunken driving on his plea of guilty and fined $1200 but...
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