Charity Welcomes Stronger Penalties For Disqualified Drivers

Road Safety Charity Brake Is Pleased By News Of A Government Crackdown On Dangerous Uninsured Driving


Road safety charity Brake has welcomed news that the government is to impose harsher mandatory penalties on disqualified motorists who cause death or serious injury while driving.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling announced this week that such drivers who kill someone on the road can now be jailed for up to ten years, while those causing major injury may be incarcerated for up to four years.

Commenting on the development, deputy chief executive of Brake Julie Townsend said: "The paltry sentences handed out for deaths and injuries caused by disqualified drivers, who have no right to be on the road in the first place, are one of the worst injustices in the current system and Brake strongly welcomes the government's move to address this."

She said that at present, many families who have suffered as a result of the actions of uninsured drivers "feel terribly let down by our justice system".

Mr Grayling commented that those who are disqualified from driving by a court are taken off the roads "for a good reason" and said those who defy such judgements should face very severe consequences, expressing the hope that the new sentencing guidelines will send out a "clear message".

At present, disqualified drivers involved in a fatality can only be jailed for up to two years, while no specific offence exists for causing injury in such circumstances. The new measures will come into force next year.

The moves announced by the secretary of state could be the first of many, as he has announced plans to conduct a full review of the penalties for driving offences.

According to Ministry of Justice Figures, 8,200 people were convicted of driving while disqualified in 2012. This included 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions for causing death by dangerous driving while disqualified.

The new offence of causing serious injury whilst driving dangerously passed into law in December 2012, meaning statistics on this will be available once data for 2013 has been compiled.

Expert Opinion
A core aspect of encouraging and raising awareness of road safety is ensuring that all road users act responsibly.

"Introducing harsher penalties is an important step which will hopefully prove to be a vital deterrent that will prevent people from driving while disqualified and putting other people at risk in the process.

"Sadly, the nature of our work means we have seen numerous cases when people have suffered fatal or catastrophic life-changing injuries as a result of other motorists and road users failing to take necessary care on the road or driving while disqualified.

"It is vital that lessons are learned from the terrible cases of the past to ensure road safety standards improve in the future."
Stephen Nye, Partner