Government announces driving offences and penalties review

Sentences for drivers who kill while banned will be extended
The Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, has announced that the government will conduct a full review of driving offences and penalties over the next few months

Grayling also announced proposals to increase the maximum sentence for drivers who kill while disqualified from driving, unlicensed or uninsured, will from two to 10 years. A separate offence of causing serious injury while disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured is also proposed, with a maximum sentence of four years.

CTC was made aware earlier in the year that the Sentencing Council’s review of sentencing guidelines for the most serious driving offences would not take place until after the government’s review of driving offences and penalties, but no public announcement about this review had been made until now.

In 2012, there were 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions for causing death by driving while disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured.

The government says it aims to bring these changes into effect in early 2015.

Campaigning for change

CTC’s Road Justice campaign has welcomed the government’s announcement as CTC has long campaigned for tougher sentences for those who flout driving bans. The campaign also wants to see much greater use of driving bans for those who commit driving offences and wider use of non-custodial options such as vehicle confiscation, driver education and anti-social behaviour orders for those who commit offences without engaging in wilful risk-taking.

We strongly welcome the government’s commitment to a full review of all driving offences and penalties. CTC has long called for tougher sentences for those who flout driving bans, so we are pleased that custodial sentences for those who cause death and serious injury while disqualified will be increased

Rhia Weston, Road Justice campaign coordinator

These announcements come after a petition calling on the government to review and change sentencing guidelines – so that drivers who kill when disqualified from driving receive tougher sentences – was signed by almost 7,000 people.

The petition was set up by the family of Ross and Clare Simons who were killed while riding their tandem in January 2014 by a driver who was disqualified at the time and had 11 previous convictions for driving while disqualified and four for dangerous driving. He received a sentence of 10 years and 6 months.

The petition was supported by Chris Skidmore, MP for Kingswood where Ross and Clare lived. He succeeded in getting a cross-party parliamentary debate on the law on dangerous driving in January of this year.