23 October 2017

Drivers who cause death by dangerous driving to face tougher sentences

Killer drivers face life behind bars after ministers confirmed plans to introduce tougher sentences for those who drive irresponsibly and devastate lives.

The Ministry of Justice, following a public consultation and resounding support from families and road safety campaigners, will:

  • Introduce life sentences for those who cause death by dangerous driving (up from a current maximum of 14 years), and for careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs driving (up from a current maximum of 14 years).
  • Introduce a new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving.

Ministers said that drivers who caused death by speeding, racing, or using a mobile phone could face sentences equivalent to manslaughter, with maximum penalties raised from 14 years to life. Legislation required for the measures is expected to be brought forward as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Referring to the new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving, the Ministry of Justice said it intended to give further consideration to the maximum penalty and to bring forward proposals to create the new offence when parliamentary time allowed.

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.’

On the new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, Mr Raab said: ‘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 consultation sought views on whether current maximum penalties available to the courts should be increased. A total of 90% of respondents thought there should be a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. They noted that without a specific offence which reflected the harm caused, offenders could only be convicted of a careless driving offence that had a maximum penalty of a fine.

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.