As lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years for killing a mother and three children while distracted by his mobile phone, the government announced a review of sentencing for dangerous driving offences.
The review is expected to recommend tougher penalties for those motorists who kill, thereby responding to public anger at current sentences, which are widely perceived as being too lenient.
For example, two out of five motorists convicted of a motoring offence leading to death are not jailed. In addition, the average prison sentence in 2014 was less than four years.
An overhaul of the current system was announced in September by the Prime Minister. In the same month, Justice Minister Sam Gyimah told MPs that the government was:
“determined to make sure sentencing fits the crime for those who kill or seriously injure on our roads”
As it stands, causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum jail sentence of 14 years. Drivers are also disqualified from driving for at least two years and must then retake their test. Causing death by careless driving carries a maximum custodial sentence of five years and a one-year ban but many convicted motorists avoid jail.
The Sentencing Council says that motorists convicted of dangerous driving should be jailed for at least 12 months. It also states that using a handheld mobile phone, or adjusting a radio, is “seriously culpable behaviour”.
Brake, the road safety campaign charity, wants the distinction between ‘dangerous’ and ‘careless’ offences to be removed. It also says that judges should have the discretion to mete out custodial sentences of up to 14 years whenever someone has been killed.
One of the families leading the campaign for tougher sentencing is that of Jamie Butcher. Jamie was 22 years old when he was killed by a driver who ran a red light in 2011. Michael Moore, the motorist in question, who had been driving at 58mph in a 30mph limit, admitted causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for 43 months.
The Ministry of Justice consultation on dangerous driving offences and penalties will begin by the end of the year.
If you or your family have been affected by a dangerous driving incident and have not received justice, our private prosecution team can help. Call us now on 0800 1933 999.