Justice secretary Chris Grayling MP today announced that disqualified drivers who kill and injure will face much tougher sentences, with a maximum of 10 years for those who kill and four years for those who seriously injure.
The current maximum sentence is only two years for a death, and there is no specific offence for causing a serious injury while disqualified.
The justice secretary also announced his intention to conduct a full review of driving offences and penalties.
Some key facts
- There were 1,754 road deaths in 2012 and 23,039 serious injuries on the road according to the Department for Transport.
- There were 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions in 2012 for causing death by driving when disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured.
- Around 8,200 people were convicted for driving whilst disqualified in 2012 according to MoJ figures..
- The government introduced a new offence of causing serious injury whilst dangerous driving in December 2012 ( as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act).
- The current maximum sentences for driving offences which cause serious injury and death are set out by the Road Traffic Act 1988. They include: Causing Death by Dangerous Driving (14 years); Causing Death by Careless Driving when under the influence of drink or drugs (14 years); Causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving (five years); Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving (five years); and Causing Death by driving when unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified (two years).
Reacting, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “Brake has long campaigned for a shake-up of charges and penalties for risky and irresponsible drivers who kill and injure on our roads. Brake supports families who have been deeply and permanently affected by selfish and risky behaviour at the wheel and we frequently hear from these families that they feel terribly let down by our justice system. As such, we strongly welcome Chis Grayling’s announcement of a thorough review this year.
The paltry sentences handed out for deaths and injuries caused by disqualified drivers, who have no right to be on the road in the first place, are one of the worst injustices in the current system, and Brake strongly welcomes the government’s move to address this. Getting behind the wheel when you have been banned from driving is a deliberate and illegal choice, and too often leads to devastating tragedies – the penalties must reflect this.”