DRIVERS or riders convicted of causing death by dangerous driving could face life imprisonment if new proposals are adopted into law.
The Government plans follow a consultation launched last December. More than 9,000 people responded to the consultation and 70% believed that the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving should be increased to life.
Under the same proposal, the crime of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs will also be increased to life. At the moment, both offences carry a maximum term of 14 years imprisonment.
The Government also proposes the creation of a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving and will consider creating a new offence of causing death by careless or dangerous cycling aimed at pedal cyclists.
As background, in 2016 there were 157 convictions of causing death by dangerous driving and 32 of causing death by careless driving under the influence.
Justice Minister Dominic Raab said: “We’ve taken a long hard look at driving sentences, and we received 9,000 submissions to our consultation. Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families, and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.”
The plans have been welcomed by some, including representatives of bereaved families. But some legal experts have questioned the wisdom of extending the potential use of a life sentence to a crime that doesn’t require a significant element of intent.
The current maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years' imprisonment, while the average sentence imposed for the crime is four years.