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Parliamentary Statement on Dangerous Driving

January 10, 2010

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Claire Ward):

The Government has been working throughout this Parliament to improve safety on Britain’s roads. In recent years we have enacted a number of measures designed to deal more effectively with those who’s driving puts others at serious risk. We have introduced the new offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death while driving unlicensed or uninsured, which have maximum penalties of five years and two years imprisonment, respectively; and increased the maximum penalty for serious driving offences, including causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs, from 10 to 14 years imprisonment (Criminal Justice Act 2003, came into effect on 27 February 2004).

But we need to do more. Dangerous driving is still too prevalent. We should not underestimate the devastating effect that bad driving can have on people’s lives. I have listened to the representations from those who are campaigning for increased penalties for dangerous driving. I have come to the conclusion that they are right, and that the current penalties are insufficient.

I therefore intend to increase the maximum penalty for dangerous driving from two years imprisonment to five years imprisonment. This will require primary legislation. An appropriate provision will be included in a suitable Bill when parliamentary time allows

The proposal has been welcomed by road safety charity Brake.

‘Brake welcomes this news as an important step forward,’ Mary Williams, Brake chief executive said.

‘However, one of the many reasons that people are calling for an increase in the dangerous driving penalty is because of the lack of any charge for seriously injuring through dangerous driving.

‘The maximum penalty for death by dangerous driving is 14 years and yet the only charge available to the courts for causing paralysis, brain damage and loss of limb is dangerous driving.

‘We urgently need not only an increase in the current penalty for dangerous driving but also a new charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving equivalent to the charge of causing grievous bodily harm.

‘We would advocate a maximum penalty for a new charge of causing serious injury by dangerous driving that is similar to the penalty for causing death by dangerous driving.’

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