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Drivers who kill could face life sentences

9th Dec 2016

Drivers who kill may soon face life sentences under plans which are being put forward by ministers. Those who cause death by speeding, street racing, or while using a mobile phone will be given the same sentences as offenders charged with manslaughter.

As well as this, offenders who cause death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs could also be handed life sentences, an increase on the current 14-year upper limit.

A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation will discuss whether the current maximum penalties available to the courts should be increased. The department said that the new measures would see custodial sentences for causing death by careless or dangerous driving increase from an average of 45.8 months in 2015.

As well as increasing the maximum sentence for causing death by either dangerous or by careless driving from 14 years to life, proposals include creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, which would carry a maximum sentence of three years, and to increase the minimum driving bans for those convicted of causing death.

The department says the consultation delivers on the government’s pledge to consider the sentencing powers available to the courts for the most serious driving offences. In 2015, 122 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with another 21 people being convicted of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence.

“Killer drivers ruin lives,” said justice minister Sam Gyimah of the increasing sentences. “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.”