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.”