LIFE IN PRISON FOR DRIVERS WHO KILL
Under new government proposals announced this week, drivers who kill by death by dangerous or careless driving could be sentenced to life in prison.
Currently, the maximum custodial sentence for this offence is 14 years, but Ministers want to bring penalties to the same level as for those convicted of manslaughter.
Those who commit such offences whilst under the influence of drink, or drugs, could also be given life sentences.
Longer sentences are proposed for drivers who kill by speeding, street racing or while using a mobile phone.
The disparity between the seriousness of the offence and the sentences meted out by the courts can be highlighted by referring to official data. The average custodial sentence for causing death by careless or dangerous driving was just under four years in 2015.
A number of high profile cases has forced Ministers to review current sentencing options for drivers who kill.
One of these is the death of Dawn Brown-Lartey’s son Joseph, who was killed by a motorist who was racing. The driver, who only had a provisional licence and was not insured, crashed into Joseph with such force that his car was split in two.
This driver was sentenced to just six years, even though he had posted pictures on Snapchat of his speedometer reaching 140mph on a motorway and driving through a red traffic light at 82mph in a 30mph speed limit.
Janice Ward, whose daughter Rachael was killed by a driver who was racing while high on drugs, told Radio 5 Live that sentencing should reflect the seriousness of the crime. The man who killed Rachael received a seven year custodial sentence, which she felt was not enough.
In response to road safety campaigners and those affected by the death of a loved one, Sam Gyimah, Justice Minister, pledged to make sentencing tougher for those drivers who kill.
Gary Rae, Campaigns Director for road safety charity Brake welcomed the promise of change, but called for the offence of careless driving to be scrapped.
He said that feedback from families which Brake works with is unequivocally of the opinion that taking a person’s life should never be classed as ‘careless’, which ignores the fact that the offence is so-named because of the manner of the driving and not the consequence of the driving.
Brake also calls for clarification as to whether the current 50% discount on the sentences served by convicted drivers – which is automatic – would still apply.
If you have been charged with causing death by dangerous or careless driving, call our office today on 01623 397200 for free initial advice.