Drivers who cause death or serious injuries on the roads when they have been banned from driving will face long jail sentences, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced today (6 May 2014).
The law will be changed so disqualified drivers will face up to 10 years in prison if they cause death, and up to 4 years imprisonment if they cause serious injuries. These much tougher maximum sentences are designed to reflect the devastating impact on victims and their families.
The Justice Secretary also announced his intention to launch a full review of all driving offences and penalties, to ensure people who endanger lives and public safety are properly punished. This will include reviewing offences committed by uninsured and unlicensed drivers.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:
I want to make our roads safer and ensure people who cause harm face tough penalties.
Disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for good reason. Those who chose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions.
Today, we are sending a clear message that anyone who does will face much tougher punishment.
The current maximum sentence faced by a driver who causes death while driving when disqualified is 2 years imprisonment and there is no specific offence of causing serious injury by driving while disqualified.
The government plans to change the law shortly to introduce the new sentences. The changes are expected to be implemented in early 2015.
The new review of driving offences will be carried out over the next few months and published in due course.
Notes to editors
- There were 1,754 road deaths in 2012 and 23,039 serious injuries on the road according to the Department for Transport.
- There were 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions in 2012 for causing death by driving when disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured.
- Around 8,200 people were convicted for driving whilst disqualified in 2012 according to MoJ figures..
- The government introduced a new offence of causing serious injury whilst dangerous driving in December 2012 ( as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act).
- The current maximum sentences for driving offences which cause serious injury and death are set out by the Road Traffic Act 1988. They include: Causing Death by Dangerous Driving (14 years); Causing Death by Careless Driving when under the influence of drink or drugs (14 years); Causing Death by Careless of Inconsiderate Driving (five years); Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving (five years); and Causing Death by driving when unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified (two years).