Categorized | Criminal Justice, Law Updates

Dangerous drivers to face longer jail terms

Dangerous drivers to face longer jail terms

Dangerous drivers who seriously injure others could spend longer in jail thanks to a new criminal offence.

For the vast majority of dangerous driving cases the maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment provides the courts with sufficient and proportionate powers to punish offenders. The new offence of ‘causing serious injury by dangerous driving’ will carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison and allow the courts to impose tougher punishments on dangerous drivers.

Announcing the new offence, justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said: “Dangerous driving can destroy lives and have a devastating effect on victims and their families and friends. We have listened to the victims of dangerous drivers, their families, MPs, judges and road safety groups and their experiences have directly informed these changes. Making our roads safer is a priority – five people died on our roads each day last year, so we need to do everything we can to further improve safety.”

Road safety minister Mike Penning said: “The vast majority of motorists are safe and responsible but the wilfully reckless minority who put lives in danger must face serious penalties. We are taking action to help the police tackle drink and drug driving, as well as to crack down on uninsured and dangerous drivers, and this new offence will mean the courts can properly punish those who inflict serious injuries.” The change was welcomed by Andrew Howard, Head of Road Safety at the AA, who said: “These law changes should make sentences more proportionate to the devastation dangerous driving causes and should also deter people from driving badly.”

The changes will be taken forward as part of the Government’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, which is rapidly becoming a grab bag of last minute proposals. The bill comes before the House of Commons again this week at Report stage. So far the bill, including plans to cut legal aid and curb payouts, which could benefit the insurance industry to the tune of £1bn a year, has been piloted through the Commons by justice minister Jonathan Djanogly. Djanogly has investments worth at least £250,000 in companies with insurance arms. His brother in law, in whose companies Djanogly’s children were shareholders, also stands to gain. Labour’s justice spokesman Andy Slaughter recently wrote to cabinet secretary Gus O’Donnell calling for an investigation into Djanogly. Slaughter pointed to conflict of interest claims, given that the minister had neither resigned nor removed himself from discussions from which he could personally profit.

The outcome was that Djanogly has been stripped of his responsibility to regulate firms that ‘ambulance chase’ the public. According to the ‘Guardian’, in reply to Slaughter, O’Donnell said that while there is “no suggestion of any impropriety in relation” to Djanogly’s brother-in-law’s firms that “for the avoidance of doubt decisions about the regulation of individual (claims management companies) should henceforth be handled by another minister.”

The justice secretary will now be in charge of the industry, but this still leaves Djanogly in charge of legal aid and civil litigation, which means he will be able to identify growth areas for claims management companies. It will be interesting to see what role he plays in the Commons this week.

This post was written by:

- who has written 462 posts on Upper Case – The Anya Legal Journal.

Mike Gribbin is a retired Civil Servant with wide experience, including the drafting and implementation of Parliamentary legislation and regulations. He is the editor of “Criminal Offences Handbook”, a uniquely comprehensive guide to more than one thousand ways to fall foul of UK criminal law. He is Editor of the Upper Case Legal Journal and has been writing blog posts for the past eight years.

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