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Major victory for campaigners - and those who maim will see harsher sentencing too

Drivers who are convicted of killing while drunk, distracted or speeding could face life in prison under new sentencing guidelines drawn up by government ministers.

It brings the sentencing for driving offences in line with manslaughter, with maximum penalties raised from 14 years to life.

Ministers also confirmed that there will be a new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving.

According to the Guardian, last year 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with a further 32 convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Dominic Raab, the justice minister, 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.”

The 9,000 consultation respondents were broadly supportive of harsher sentencing, with 70 per cent calling for life imprisonment as a maximum term.

Around 90 per cent of respondents backed the creation of the new offence of serious injury by careless driving.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said the move marked a "major victory for the families of victims" and campaigners.

He said: "We applaud the Government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law."

 

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

15 comments

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burtthebike [1280 posts] 3 months ago
18 likes

Since almost all offences are prosecuted under careless driving, and courts rarely convict on dangerous driving, this will have zero effect in deterring the worst kind of driving, and that's the point.  The government can pretend that it has listened and can introduce harsh new penalties that will rarely if ever be applied, that won't make any difference, and certainly won't make our roads safer.

Cynical posturing and hypocrisy.

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Peowpeowpeowlasers [557 posts] 3 months ago
19 likes

I'd like to see much less use of "exceptional hardship" when someone has reached or exceeded 12 points.  And I'd also like to see lifetime driving bans for anyone who is looking down the barrel of a second bannable offence, or who has totted up more than 12 points in a period of, say, 10 years.

Oh and presumed liability might be a good idea too, since we're about the only country in Europe who doesn't currently use it.

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bstock [24 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
burtthebike wrote:

Since almost all offences are prosecuted under careless driving, and courts rarely convict on dangerous driving, this will have zero effect in deterring the worst kind of driving, and that's the point.  The government can pretend that it has listened and can introduce harsh new penalties that will rarely if ever be applied, that won't make any difference, and certainly won't make our roads safer.

Cynical posturing and hypocrisy.

 

But surely the new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is an attempt to address this.

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srchar [717 posts] 3 months ago
11 likes
Peowpeowpeowlasers wrote:

I'd like to see much less use of "exceptional hardship" when someone has reached or exceeded 12 points. 

This. I never understood it anyway; surely the point of a punishment is that it is hard?

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wycombewheeler [1246 posts] 3 months ago
13 likes

Detection low
Conviction low
Sentencing not up to current maximums anyway
I'd rather see lifetime driving bans as the starting point than life sentences as the end point.

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Sevenfold [82 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes

It would make more sense to increase the minimum sentence for causing death/serious injury by careless/dangerous driving. The average jail time is only 4 years for dangerous driving. Raise the minimum prison time & bring in a mandatory 10 year to life driving ban would make far more realistic sentencing.

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JonD [493 posts] 3 months ago
3 likes
Sevenfold wrote:

It would make more sense to increase the minimum sentence for causing death/serious injury by careless/dangerous driving. The average jail time is only 4 years for dangerous driving. Raise the minimum prison time & bring in a mandatory 10 year to life driving ban would make far more realistic sentencing.

 

"We will introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, punishable by imprisonment, to fill a gap in the law andreflect the seriousness of some of the injuries suffered by victims in this category of case.”

https://www.theguardian.com/law/2017/oct/14/drivers-who-kill-may-now-fac...

 

I have the dubious pleasure of Raab being my local MP, perhaps I ought to send him a whole bunch of stuff to look at wrt various cycling-related prosections, tho' one would hope 9000 consulations would have covered it...

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FluffyKittenofT... [1938 posts] 3 months ago
1 like
burtthebike wrote:

Since almost all offences are prosecuted under careless driving, and courts rarely convict on dangerous driving, this will have zero effect in deterring the worst kind of driving, and that's the point.  The government can pretend that it has listened and can introduce harsh new penalties that will rarely if ever be applied, that won't make any difference, and certainly won't make our roads safer.

Cynical posturing and hypocrisy.

Some _are_ convicted for 'dangerous' though. And even those at present often get very lenient sentences. So I think it's an improvement. Of course, harsher punishments might make already-biased juries even less likely to convict.

Really, though, I want harsher sentences purely for reasons of emotional satisfaction and feelings about justice. I'm tired of seeing sentences that imply the life of anyone not in a car is of lesser value.

But I am still convinced safety can only come from better infrastructure.

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BarryBianchi [419 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

So long as they keep up the one year bans for multiple drink-driving convictions, we're all still onto a winner...

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Ush [1037 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

I'd rather see lifetime driving bans as the starting point than life sentences as the end point.

Exactly.  It's all a matter of perspective and the system needs to be changed to enable a jury exercising leniency to have a reasonable option that protects _all_ the rest of the road users by removing the temporary, licensed right to operate dangerous machinery from people that have shown themselves either to be simply incompetent or actively malicious.

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Beecho [237 posts] 3 months ago
2 likes

The life of an adult mayfly is 24 hours. That's the benchmark for 'life' here, right?

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Bigfoz [143 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Pointless. CPS will be even more loath to prosecute at all due to the potentially harsh penalty, and the jurors are unlikely to ever find anyone guilty either...

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kil0ran [650 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes
wycombewheeler wrote:

Detection low Conviction low Sentencing not up to current maximums anyway I'd rather see lifetime driving bans as the starting point than life sentences as the end point.

Lifetime bans would be I think a greater deterrent. And a compulsory prison sentence for anyone caught driving whilst banned.

Whilst vengeance/justice would do a little to ease the pain of losing a family member what many bereaved families have is a strong desire for no-one else to be experiencing what they are - its why so many of them devote so much time to campaigning for road safety. The idea of a killer driver leaving jail and killing again would be acutely painful to them - hence life bans required.

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CaribbeanQueen [6 posts] 3 months ago
1 like

Unfortunately the current definitions of dangerous and careless driving do not even lead to convictions in many cases of clearly illegal behaviour that leads to road deaths. 

 It seems that, although illegal, it is perfectly acceptable to drive on the pavement, as in the case of a driver acquitted of both dangerous and careless driving after killing a 4 year old girl on the pavement. 

It is also apparently acceptable to just "not see" a 91 year old man on a zebra crossing because of the rain and some trees or an 82 year old lollipop man because  of the sun. 

In fact just "not seeing" someone, cyclist or pedestrian, pretty much gets you off the hook every time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avatar
CaribbeanQueen [6 posts] 3 months ago
0 likes

Unfortunately the current definitions of dangerous and careless driving do not even lead to convictions in many cases of clearly illegal behaviour that leads to road deaths. 

 It seems that, although illegal, it is perfectly acceptable to drive on the pavement, as in the case of a driver acquitted of both dangerous and careless driving after killing a 4 year old girl on the pavement. 

It is also apparently acceptable to just "not see" a 91 year old man on a zebra crossing because of the rain and some trees or an 82 year old lollipop man because  of the sun. 

In fact just "not seeing" someone, cyclist or pedestrian, pretty much gets you off the hook every time.