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Brake renews calls for tougher penalties for drivers who kill & seriously injure

Released in advance of the recently announced review of charges and penalties, the criminal justice figures for 2013 show that a total of 438 drivers were convicted of causing death or bodily harm. Just over half (55%) were given immediate prison sentences, up slightly from 54% in 2012. Only one in seven (14%) were given more than five years in prison, a small increase from one in ten (10%) in 2012. 

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: ‘These figures come as a reminder that sentences for drivers who kill and seriously injure do not reflect the atrocious suffering of victim families, many of whom feel deeply let down by the justice system. While the slight increase in higher-level sentences is encouraging, it does not go nearly far enough. We still see drivers who have killed through their risky actions being inappropriately charged with causing death by ‘careless driving' and receiving low sentences as a result – one of the key issues that must be addressed in the forthcoming government review. We also need to see fines for more common driving offences that pose a danger, like speeding and mobile phone use, rise dramatically to provide an effective deterrent.’

The figures show that in 2013:

  • 125 were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving (which has a maximum penalty of 14 years), with almost all (96%) given immediate prison sentences but only one third (33%) given more than five years.
  • 33 were convicted of causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs (which has a maximum penalty of 14 years), with almost all (94%) given immediate prison sentences but less than three in five (58%) given more than five years.
  • 215 were convicted of causing death by careless driving (which has a maximum penalty of five years), with only one in three (30%) given immediate prison sentences.
  • 31 were convicted of the new charge of causing injury by dangerous driving (which has a maximum penalty of five years), with half (52%) given immediate prison sentences.

Brake added that the average fine for driving offences remained unchanged in real terms, at £214 in 2009 prices. By comparison, the fine for not having a TV licence is £1,000.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.