Motorists Who Kill Others Could Be Jailed For Life Under New Laws
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The legislation - which will come into effect early next year - applies to drivers who have killed others while speeding, using a phone, or under the influence of drink or drugs. Currently, the maximum sentence for these crimes is 14 years.
A new offence of 'causing serious injury by dangerous driving' is also being proposed, as motorists at present can only be charged with careless driving, which is punishable by a fine.
The Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland, said: "This government has been clear that punishments must fit the crime but too often families tell us this isn't the case with killer drivers.
"So today, I am announcing that we will bring forward legislation early next year to introduce life sentences for dangerous drivers who kill on our roads and ensure they feel the full force of the law."
The new legislation - which will not apply in Northern Ireland, where there are separate road safety laws - comes after 2016 consultations revealed that 70 percent of respondents felt the maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving should be increased to life in prison.
The proposed law changes were first announced in 2017, but road safety organisations and victims' families have long campaigned for tougher sentencing.
Crash victims have waited three long years for this announcement. Road crime is real crime and it is high time the law, recognised this. 'Drivers who kill others after speeding, racing or using a phone could receive life sentences under new legislation.' https://t.co/n2HX0ekFWc pic.twitter.com/IAZtSBqfnx- Brake, the road safety charity (@Brakecharity) September 14, 2020
Catherine Smith, from Wrea Green, Lancashire, lost both her husband and her daughter in two separate crashes.
Husband Peter was killed by a French lorry driver, who was cleared of causing death by dangerous driving but fined £250 for driving without due care and attention. Daughter Janet was killed by a drunk driver, who was sentenced to three-and-a-half years for causing death by dangerous driving, driving without insurance and driving without a licence.
Speaking to The Blackpool Gazette in 2016, Catherine said: "Half my family has been wiped out because of someone else's reckless behaviour on the roads. It is a life sentence for me, but not for the culprits.
"When someone dies of an illness, that is bad enough, but to think their death could have been avoided is really difficult. If someone was shot dead on the streets, there would be a public outcry and rightly so. But a death on the road does not seem to be viewed in the same way as other crimes.
"I always say my husband and daughter were killed. They did not die - they were killed. It was not an accident, it was a crash. Road deaths can be just as violent as murder."