Fleet News

Fleet fears as couple face jail after party

FRENCH fleets could be affected by the ramifications of a case where a couple are facing a five-year prison sentence and a E75,000 fine for allowing a friend to drive home drunk after a dinner party.

Legal experts warn the case could even set a precedent for other countries in Europe. The couple are on trial charged with being partially responsible for the car crash in which the man killed himself and four other people more than four years ago.

The newly-married couple are being prosecuted for failing to prevent a crime and if they are found guilty the ruling will set a legal precedent in the country, where the law currently states that only those who knew that a crime was about to be committed could be charged.

They had spent the evening drinking with friends when one of the guests said he was driving himself home. In court, the couple said they had tried to prevent the man from leaving, but that he became angry and they gave up.

He left the house at 3.45am and drove on the wrong side of the road, eventually crashing into another car carrying a family of five.

Newspaper reports say the case has been brought by the grandmother of the only person to survive the crash, a girl now aged nine. Traumatised by the death of her daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren, she claims the couple should have done more to stop the man from driving and should at least have called the police when they saw him get into his car. During an earlier attempt to prosecute the couple, which failed, a judge ruled that it was unreasonable to expect anyone to denounce a friend to the police.

The couple's lawyer said they did everything they possibly could to try to discourage their friend from driving in that state. The French court is due to announce its decision next week.

Legal experts have warned that the decision could have an immediate impact on companies, especially when it comes to hosting staff or customer parties where there is alcohol available. What do you think? E-mail fleetnews@emap.com

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