Killers at the Wheel: New Laws Result in a Life Sentence

Car accidents

The Government has announced a much more robust penalty of a life sentence for those motorists who cause death by dangerous driving in England, Scotland and Wales.

The Government has received a lot of criticism in the past about the lack of severity in the punishments handed out to drivers who cause deaths on the road. These changes are part of a Government push to make roads safer for all, and stop the devastation caused by dangerous drivers and cyclists.

New laws pushed forwards by the Ministry of Justice mean that careless driving while intoxicated or under the influence, could mean a much more severe punishment for the guilty party if convicted.

Furthermore, motorists who cause death by dangerous driving whilst using mobile phones, speeding or where racing is involved, will be dealt with on the same basis as someone convicted of manslaughter.

These law changes appear to be supported by the public. In December 2016, of the 9000 people who responded to the consultation, 70% backed an increase to the maximum prison sentence to 14 years if alcohol or drugs were involved.

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.”

In 2016, 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with an additional 32 convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence.

Only time will tell if these changes act as a deterrent to would be dangerous drivers and subsequently results in a lower rate of deaths on our roads. The risk is that the new sentences are not publicised enough, or that potential dangerous drivers don’t pay attention to the warnings and the only difference the changes make, are in bringing a harder punishment alone.

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