Campaigners welcome plan for killer drivers to face life sentences
Motorists who cause death by dangerous or careless driving could get longer prison terms under plans unveiled by ministers
Sunday 4 December 2016 13.16 GMT
Dangerous drivers who kill while using a mobile phone at the wheel could face life sentences under plans unveiled by ministers, bringing the punishment in line with those charged with manslaughter.
Motorists who cause death by speeding or street racing, or through careless driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, could also be handed life sentences if proposals to increase the 14-year limit for the offence are adopted.
Under the current penalty, people are usually released after seven years. In 2015, the average sentence for drivers who killed was 45.6 months, or less than four years.
The justice minister Sam Gyimah said the maximum sentence should rise to a life term.
“Killer drivers ruin lives,” he said. “Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses. While [it is] impossible to compensate for the death of a loved one, we are determined to make sure the punishment fits the crime.
“My message is clear: if you drive dangerously and kill on our roads, you could face a life sentence.”
Last year, 122 people were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, including those who were speeding, street racing and using a mobile phone. A further 21 people were convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence.
A Ministry of Justice consultation will seek views on whether the current maximum penalty available to the courts should be increased.
As well as plans to increase the maximum sentence of causing death by dangerous driving, or careless driving, to a life term, the proposals include creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, which would carry a maximum sentence of three years.
The MoJ will also consider increasing the minimum driving bans for those convicted of causing death on the roads.