Motorists can now face a life sentence after the Government confirmed it is to toughen sentences for driving offences involving a fatality. The changes come after a recent consultation that received over 9000 submissions.
Dangerous drivers who cause death while using a mobile phone, by breaking the speed limit or are under the influence of drink/drugs may face life in prison. The decision to increase the penalty from the maximum of 14 years comes after a campaign by families and MPs nationwide.
A new offence is also set to be introduced of causing serious injury through careless driving. The new measures mean that motorists can face the same length of sentence as those convicted of manslaughter.
In 2016, there were 157 motorists sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving and 32 cases of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.
The Justice Minister, Dominic Raab, said:
“We’ve taken a long hard look at driving sentences, and we received 9,000 submissions to our consultation. Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs. We will introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, punishable by imprisonment, to fill a gap in the law and reflect the seriousness of some of the injuries suffered by victims in this category of case.”
In response to a government consultation on dangerous driving, 70% of responses backed extending the maximum penalty for the offence to life imprisonment.
Whilst the changes will no doubt be welcomed by many, there will be questions as to whether sending more people to prison for such offences is the right approach in an age where our prisons are already overcrowded and pose a significant drain on the public purse.
Author Neil Sargeant is a Road Traffic specialist within the Duncan Lewis Crime Department, based in Harrow. He has specialised in Road Traffic Law since 2008, establishing close working relationships with some of the country’s leading experts in this field and maintaining an outstanding record of client acquittals. His specialist expertise stretch across road traffic law, but are most extensive in:
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