Road safety charity calls for tougher charges and sentences for criminal drivers

Road safety charity Brake is calling on the government to review guidelines for charging and sentencing criminal drivers.

The charity’s new survey found that nine out of 10 people believe drivers who cause a fatal crash after taking drugs or alcohol should be charged with manslaughter.

At present, if motorists are found to be under the influence of drink or drugs they can currently be charged with causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving.

According to Brake, prison sentences for those charged can range from 26 weeks to 14 years. However, the charity notes the rarity of sentences at the higher end and the average prison sentence given to a driver who has killed someone is less than four years.

It would appear that the public would prefer to see tougher sentences, with two thirds of the 1,000 UK adults polled saying all drivers who cause a fatal crash should be jailed for at least 10 years.

The overwhelming majority of people questioned in Yorkshire, where the charity is based, believed the charge for a driver that causes a fatal crash after drinking or taking drugs should be manslaughter, which carries a possible life sentence.

Other prison terms supported by the public are at least 15 years, cited by a third of respondents, and just over one in 10 (11%) think they should be jailed for life. Currently, nearly half of drivers convicted for killing receive no prison sentence at all.

Director of communications and campaigns for Brake, Gary Rae, said: “There are too many families who suffer the double trauma of losing a loved one in a sudden and violent way and then witness the judicial system turning its back on them.

“That’s why we’re launching our Roads to Justice campaign, which calls on government to get tough on criminal drivers who kill or seriously injure others.”

“We believe the public are behind us, judging from our survey results,” he added.

Overwhelming support for a charge of dangerous driving and not careless driving to be handed out in the result of someone being seriously injured or killed in a crash was also highlighted by charity’s survey, with 85% of respondents agreeing with the charge.

In 2014, 205 people were charged with causing death by careless driving and 176 were charged with causing death by dangerous driving.

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