Sunday, December 4, 2016

Call for Longer Prison Sentences for Drug and Alcohol Killers as Government Canvasses Your Views

Imprisonment Terms Too Short for Drivers Who End Innocent Lives Says Safety Lobby
Shipping News Feature
UK – Brake, the road safety charity, have welcomed the British government’s announcement that they are to hold a consultation on whether to introduce life sentences to drivers who kill through dangerous driving or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The review, which will run until February 2017, will examine proposals to stiffen penalties so that dangerous drivers causing death by speeding, street racing or while on a mobile phone, are among those now facing the same sentences as those charged with manslaughter. There is also a proposal that careless drivers causing serious injury should face a new penalty for which they could spend three-year’s in jail.

The review comes as ministers seek to deter dangerous, criminal behaviour on our roads, and make sure killer drivers face the toughest penalties. Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said:

“Killer drivers ruin lives. Their actions cause immeasurable pain to families, who must endure tragic, unnecessary losses. 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.”

Proposals include:

  • Increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life.
  • Increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life.
  • Creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, with a maximum sentence of three years.
  • Increasing minimum driving bans for those convicted of causing death.

These proposals follow on from action taken in 2015 when the Government increased the maximum custodial sentence for causing death whilst driving when disqualified from 2 to 10 years. A new offence of causing serious injury when driving whilst disqualified was also created, with a maximum penalty of four years’ imprisonment.

In 2015, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with a further 21 convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence. Brake, and many others, hope the measures will see custodial sentences for causing death by careless or dangerous driving increase, from the average of 45.8 months in 2015.

Speaking of the review Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said:

“This is a vindication of our efforts, and those of victims’ families, calling for change through our Roads to Justice campaign. For too long, the justice system has treated them as second class citizens.

“We do remain concerned that the charge of ‘careless’ driving could remain. Some of the strongest feedback we have received from the families we work with, is that there is nothing careless about taking someone else’s life. We also want clarification on whether the current automatic 50% discount, where convicted drivers serve only half their term in jail, will still apply for these new, proposed sentences.

“At this stage, these are proposals, and we will be giving our full response before the February deadline. We would urge others, especially those directly affected by road deaths, to respond to the consultation.”

The consultation document will be published on Monday at 9.30am on gov.uk.