Motorists that kill while driving dangerously or carelessly could face a life sentence if new proposals become law.
Life sentence explained
The Government has proposed increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years imprisonment, to life. A life sentence – which can also be a punishment for manslaughter – runs for the rest of the culprit’s life and imposes a minimum term of imprisonment based on the specifics of the crime.
The perpetrator might be released once the minimum term is complete, but conditions must be satisfied from that point (for life). If such terms are broken or the culprit is considered a threat to the public, he/she could be returned to prison. Part of the purpose of such terms is to encourage proper, legal, behaviour.
Cited examples of dangerous driving included:
- street racing,
- reckless driving,
- using a mobile phone.
The Government also proposed increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving - while under the influence of alcohol or drugs - from 14 years imprisonment to life. It further championed creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving that is punishable by a 3-year custodial sentence.
During 2015, 122 motorists were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving in the UK. 21, in contrast, were convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence. The average sentence was 45.8 months, so “it is hoped” the new proposals will ensure such sentences increase, the Government said.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice, Sam Gyimah, said: “Killer drivers ruin lives. Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families who must endure tragic, unnecessary, losses.”
Mr Gyimah added: “While 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.”
The Government has launched a consultation on its proposals to enable the public to express its views. Interested parties have until February 1st, 2017. The consultation seeks view that relate to:
- “the distinction between careless and dangerous driving,
- a perceived gap in the law for causing serious injury by careless driving,
- maximum penalties for causing death,
- driving disqualifications.”
The consultation document explained: “The Government recognises that there is public concern about sentencing for offenders who kill or seriously injure others on the road.”
It continued: “(The Government) is committed to making sure that the legislative framework that the courts operate within reflects the seriousness of offending and the culpability of the offender.”