Banned drivers who cause death on the roads will soon face tougher sentences under new reforms by the government. The reforms, set to come into force in early 2015, will also create a new offence of causing serious injury whilst disqualified.
Under the new law, a disqualified driver who causes death will face a potential 10 year prison sentence, replacing the previous maximum penalty of 2 years imprisonment (S21, Road Safety Act 2006). The new offence of causing serious injury whilst disqualified will carry a maximum sentence of 4 years.
The new changes have been brought in following a political debate around the issue which had been raised by the family and friends of victims of this crime who felt that the punishment of 2 years was not enough.
In 2012, over 8,200 people were convicted for driving whilst disqualified according to figures released by the Ministry of Justice. Among these there were 16 prosecutions, 13 of which led to convictions, for causing death by driving whilst disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured.
Chis Grayling, Justice Secretary, has stated that along with the new changes, he intended to launch a review of the penalties for driving offences focussing on ensuring that drivers who put the lives of others at risk were ‘punished properly’.
Mr Grayling also confirmed that he wanted to make the roads safer and in order to do so would have to ensure that those who caused harm to other road users faced tough penalties for their actions. He stated;
“Disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for good reason. Those who choose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions. Today we are sending a clear message that anyone who does will face much tougher punishment.”
The labour party raised valid concerns that the provisioned increase in prison terms will lead to further problems with space in prisons. Mr Sadiq Khan, Shadow Justice Secretary, firmly agreed that those driving without insurance and cause serious injuries or death ought to be properly punished but that the issue of space and overcrowding in prisons also needs to be considered urgently.
The new changes to the law will come into force next year in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland retains a separate framework of road traffic offences.
If you face charges of causing death whilst disqualified or indeed any driving offence, please contact our serious crime lawyers who are able to advise in relation to motoring offences. It is vital that you speak to a Motoring Offence Lawyer at the earliest opportunity as early advice is often crucial. For 24 hour advice via our emergency crime line, call 01254 606050.