Tough new proposals to jail disqualified drivers have been mooted. An independent report commissioned by the Justice secretary Chris Grayling concludes that those who choose to defy a driving ban imposed by a court and go on to cause death by driving or serious injuries on the roads will face up to 10 years in jail.
Grayling argues that the law needs to be changed. A new review of driving offences is to be carried out over the next few months and published in due course. In the proposed legislation in case of a driver who causes death while driving whilst disqualified would face sentence depending upon what view court takes and up to four years’ imprisonment if driver causes serious injuries. These tougher maximum sentences are intended to reflect the impact on victims and their families.
The change follows a campaign by the families of victims. They pointed to the example of Graham Godwin, 36, who had been drinking and smoking cannabis, was speeding and when he crashed and killed a pedestrian. He was jailed for 18 months for causing his death because prosecutors said there was not enough evidence for a charge of causing death by dangerous driving. He had a long criminal record including 45 previous traffic offences, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance, and growing cannabis in his home.
Nicky Lovell, 38, who had a long criminal record including 45 previous traffic offences, pleaded guilty to driving while disqualified and without insurance, and growing cannabis in his home. He pleaded guilty to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving and one of driving while disqualified and was jailed for 10 years and six months – the maximum sentence possible.
In 2011, 153 of the 408 people convicted of causing death or bodily harm while driving dangerously, or under the influence of drink or drugs (drink driving), avoided jail altogether. Five were given fines, and 63 were given suspended prison sentences.
In the ultimate analysis Grayling states his intention to launch a full review of all driving offences and penalties, to ensure people who jeopardize lives and public safety were appropriately disciplined. This would include reviewing offences committed by uninsured and unlicensed drivers. He wants to make roads safer and ensure people safety.