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Judges will be able to hand out life sentences to dangerous drivers who kill from tomorrow (28 June).
The current penalty for dangerous drivers who kill and careless drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs is 14 years, a sentence far exceeded by changes coming into effect as of Tuesday.
The sentence increase is part of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act and applies to offences committed across England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland, as the country has its own road safety laws.
According to the BBC, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Those responsible will now face the possibility of life behind bars.
“Too many lives have been lost to reckless behaviour behind the wheel, devastating families.”
The BBC also notes that the government wants to ensure ‘punishments reflect the severity of crimes and the misery killer drivers leave in their wake’.
The new law also makes causing serious injury by careless driving an offence, so anyone who inflicts long-term or permanent injuries will face tougher sentences.
Speaking about the legislation change - first announced back in 2017 - Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: "Drivers exhibiting the worst behaviour on the roads are a danger to us all.
"Those who behave with disregard to the risk they pose deserve the stiffest penalties when their actions rob others of their lives."
He added: "Involuntary manslaughter already carries a maximum penalty of up to life imprisonment so it is hard to argue that killing someone with a car doesn't warrant a possible sanction of similar severity.”
The Crown Prosecution Service will continue to charge people with manslaughter or murder where there is evidence that a vehicle was used as a weapon to kill or cause grievous bodily harm.
Aside from changes to dangerous driving legislation, the government is also introducing rules that offer people with hearing loss the support of sign language interpreters during jury deliberations, ITV reports.
People with hearing loss were previously unable to participate in deliberation rooms as only the 12 sworn jurors were permitted to enter.
Of the move, Raab explained: “The right to be judged by your peers dates back to Magna Carta, and is a cornerstone of our justice system.”
The Deputy Prime Minister added: “We’re changing the law so that many more deaf people have the opportunity to carry out this important civic duty.”
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