The government has confirmed that there will be a review looking specifically at motoring offences and penalties later this year. Cycling UK has been told that a public consultation will begin before Christmas with the plan being to bring legislation before parliament in 2017.
A full review of all driving offences and penalties was first announced by then Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in 2014.
In September 2015, the review was said to be underway with Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Andrew Selous, saying he hoped that it would move to a public phase ‘soon’.
However, Selous subsequently said that sentencing in such cases would be considered under a wider consultation of all criminal offences to begin by the end of the year.
Cycling UK wrote to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) following the appointment of Elizabeth Truss as Justice Secretary in July and then met with officials last Friday. They have learned that the review will in fact specifically focus on the most serious offences involving injury or death to other road users after all.
Writing on the Cycling UK website, the organisation’s Road Safety and Legal Campaigns Officer, Duncan Dollimore, said:
“We have long campaigned for a review of the legislation concerning dangerous and careless driving, as changes are needed to avoid the current inconsistencies in charging decisions and how standards of poor driving are assessed and dealt with. We are delighted that this will be a key part of the promised review, which we have reliably been informed will also consider issues concerning sentencing and driving disqualification in such cases.”
Dollimore did however express disappointment that the MOJ do not propose to review the use of disqualification for non-imprisonable offences, nor the ‘exceptional hardship’ legislation by which drivers can avoid losing their driving licences despite having acquired 12 or more penalty points.
The latter was recently used by Christopher Gard, a driver who retained his licence despite eight previous convictions for using his phone at the wheel. Six weeks after the case, Gard hit and killed cyclist Lee Martin while reading a text message.
Dollimore said of the issue: “The distinction between what is truly exceptional, and the forseeable inconvenience which follows the loss of a licence for repeat offending is constantly blurred by the courts, and needs to be urgently reviewed.”