Drivers who kill can be jailed for life under new rules

Drivers who kill concept
Legally reviewed by: Kevin Waddingham In: Motoring Offences

This week, new legislation has come into force that allows judges to give life sentences to drivers who kill people through dangerous or careless driving, including those under the influence of drink or drugs.

According to the latest figures, there were 568 offences of causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving in 2021.

The law change follows a campaign by the parents of a four-year-old killed by a hit-and-run driver in a stolen car, who were angry at the penalties drivers faced for taking a life through dangerous actions.

Previously, the maximum sentence a driver could receive for causing death by dangerous or careless driving was 14 years. However, judges now have the power to hand out life sentences to drivers who kill, bringing the punishment in line with other similar offences.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said: “Too many lives have been lost to reckless behaviour behind the wheel, devastating families. We have changed the law so those responsible will now face the possibility of life behind bars.”

The reforms, which fall under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act will also create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, meaning those who inflict long-term or permanent injuries also face tougher sentences.

In addition to this, there are other legislative changes coming into force at the same time as part of the act including whole-life orders the starting point for pre-meditated child murder, introducing mandatory life sentences for those who unlawfully kill emergency workers in the line of duty, and ending the automatic early release of offenders deemed to be a danger to the public.

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