Dangerous driving to attract tougher sentences

New sentencing guidelines published today recommend jail sentences of at least seven years for dangerous drivers who cause death on the roads.

Courts in England and Wales receive guidance from the Sentencing Guidelines Council (SGC) today recommending “lengthy custodial sentences” for cases involving drugs, drink or “prolonged, persistent and deliberate bad driving”.

Speculation that a jail term could be mandatory for those causing death because of using a mobile phone while driving has been proved correct, with the guidance recommending jail for up to seven years.

Newly-released sentencing guidelines show the maximum tariff for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years, regardless of whether the offender was under the influence of drink or drugs.

Under the Road Safety Act 2006 new offences are introduced – causing death by careless driving and a more specific causing death by driving from unlicenced, disqualified or uninsured drivers. The new stricter tariffs apply to all four offences.

“Sentencing in cases where death results from the misuse of a car on the road are among the most difficult for judges and magistrates,” SGC chairman Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers said.

“The harm is the greatest anyone can inflict – the death of a victim – but the level of culpability can range from a flagrant disregard of the safety of other road users to a terrible moment of inattention.”

Judges and magistrates will have to assess “how bad” the driving was and how much danger it created when deciding the level of seriousness.