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Government repeats pledge to jail killer drivers for life

Plans for tougher sentencing were outlined in 2017 but have not yet led to legislation

Motorists convicted of causing death by dangerous driving or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs could face life in jail under reforms to the law planned by the government. A new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving could also be introduced, reports The Times. However, similar proposals outlined in 2017 have so far not resulted in the law being changed.

Swindon South MP Robert Buckland QC, who as solicitor general is the second most senior lawyer in the government, has now told The Times that the new laws “will be brought in as soon as there is a legislative opportunity.

He added: “The government has made clear that it wishes to toughen the sentences for careless and dangerous driving so that judges have appropriate penalties.”

The news comes at the end of a week when former world and Olympic champion turned cycling advocate Chris Boardman called for lengthier driving bans rather than longer jail terms for drivers who kill.

On Thursday, Liam Rosney, who in 2016 killed Boardman’s mother Carol while she was cycling in North Wales, was jailed for 30 weeks and handed an 18-month driving ban after admitting causing death by careless driving.

In response to the sentence Boardman, who is now Greater Manchester’s Cycling & Walking Commissioner, said: “I would like to see more driving bans.

“Driving is a privilege, so I don’t want those people who commit crime – and that’s what this is – become a burden on society. I’d just like them not to be able to do that to anybody else ever again.”

He added: “What I would like to see – and I think what we would all like to see – is sentencing to reflect the crime. ‘I’m going to take away your right to drive. For good. You lost that privilege. You chose to be careless and I’m taking it away’.”

It’s not the first time that the government has pledged to increase the potential jail term for motorists found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, which currently has a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment.

In October 2017, then justice minister Dominic Raab outlined proposals to introduce life sentences in the most serious cases following a consultation.

Cycling UK, responding to those plans – which to date have not been the subject of legislation – welcomed introducing tougher jail sentences, but also called on the government to make greater use of longer driving bans.

The charity’s head of advocacy and campaigns, Duncan Dollimore, said at the time: “Longer sentencing is not the only answer for drivers who kill.

“A mistake while driving is one of the few activities which can see an otherwise law-abiding citizen’s actions result in death or serious injury for a fellow road user.

“In such cases, custodial sentencing is not always the answer, but the use of longer and life driving bans are.”

He added: “Cycling UK is pleased to see government is considering driving bans as an option, but we urge them to make their commitment clearer and establish a clear timeline for consultation.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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kil0ran | 5 years ago

Now this is more like it

Between 10 & 13 years in prison and long driving bans on release (not that they'll stop them)

Any idea how much a prisoner costs to keep for a year? 

Although I suspect that the sentences are so long because they damaged property, can't have people demolishing houses now, can we?

Jimmy Ray Will | 5 years ago

The thing is, increased sentences is simply not going to work. Right now we have a huge issue in that the CPS is unwilling to prosecute for the appropriate crime, if at all.

That unwillingness is not down to any pathologial hatred for vulnerable road users, or a positive obsession with the motor car, its simply because the CPS knows that juries are not going to convict. 

The main reason thasat juries are not willing to convict is the fear of 'ruining someone's life' with an excessive sentence. 

We are all drivers, we can all see that sometimes mistakes are made, the very idea of going to prison for life for a mistake makes it near on impossible for any group of 12 to remain inpartial and fair. Longer sentences will make the situation worse, not better. 

I agree with Boardman, we need to issue longer driving bans, and be able to effectively police those bans... I'd argue with technology, so that the priviledge of driving is recognsied and respected. 

Custodial sentences should be used only when individuals have acted in a way that goes against their requirements... driving whilst banned, or intoxicated, in an obviously dangerous way.

If the tech could be made reliable, bans should be handed out far more frequently. I'd suggest for ore minor offences, these bans should be nothing more than a cancelling of their licence. At any time they can get it back simply by passing an advanced driving test. 

brooksby | 5 years ago


as soon as there is a legislative opportunity

And that, right there, is the Govt's get out clause.  WTF do you think they're going to have time to do anything except pass lots of legislation to mimic the EU legislation already in place so we can function on the international stage???

ktache | 5 years ago

Burt, there was a point a couple of weeks ago when you stopped mentioning the govenments upcoming review on motoring crime, and I was worrying  about you a bit.  I enjoyed your persistance.  Glad to see the passion is back.  I hope you get what you wish for.

I, unfortunately remain pessimistic.  It will still be a police force, magistates, judges, prosecutors and juries made up of motorists, unwilling to prosecute and convict a fellow motorist.  The maximim sentence may go up to life, but it will never be used.  Has anybody ever gone down for the full 14 years, at present the maximum for "causing death by.."?  Or the 9 years 4 months, which is the 14 year maximum with a 1/3 off for pleading guilty.  I mean, even when we have read of multiple offences from repeat offenders, who kill whilst posessing no licence or insurance, unable to function through drink and drugs and leaving the scene, I cannot remember any sentence anywhere near the maximums.

Longer bans would seem to be good, but there needs to be serious repercussions for ignoring.  Not further bans, maybe very restrictive curfews.  And  prison for those who ignore multiple warnings.  But then that needs enforcement, from a justice sysem that often views motoring offenses as not real crime.

Pedantic Pedaller | 5 years ago

I would like to see the distinction of careless & Dangerous/reckless driving removed.

When there has been a death or serious injury, there should be one charge of "Causing Death or Serious Injury by Negligent Driving".

The Court could then consider the evidence and decide on the severity of the Negligence involved.

This will stop serious cases being downgraded to "Careless" driving because the CPS deem it too difficult to prosecute "Dangerous" driving.

burtthebike | 5 years ago

There is no point whatsoever of increasing penalties for crimes juries will not find drivers guilty of.  We need to redefine the crimes of careless and dangerous driving so that guilt is clear and drivers would be convicted; just like what was promised in 2014.

Likewise, there is little point in locking someone up for life at our expense.  Lifetime bans certainly.

Is this government competent at any level?  Any level at all?  Anything?

CygnusX1 | 5 years ago

Long term (including lifetime) bans are the answer here, with custodial sentences for anyone found flouting them.

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