Dangerous Drivers now Face Life Imprisonment | Justice for Grieving Families

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From today, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will take effect, bringing long-awaited changes to the way dangerous and careless driving offences are dealt with in England, Scotland and Wales.

First announced in 2017, this law change forms part of the government’s plan to give Courts the power to effectively punish offences involving dangerous or careless driving in cases where the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

As personal injury lawyers, we welcome the change in legislation and the long overdue justice that it will provide for people who are needlessly injured or killed in road traffic accidents caused by dangerous or careless drivers.

In this article, we’ll discuss each of the key changes in detail as well as the reasons for them being put in place.

If you’ve suffered a road traffic collision, we could help you get compensation. Get in touch with our expert Road Traffic Accident Solicitors for initial advice.

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Changes to Maximum Sentences

As of today, the maximum sentence to be given to people found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving will increase from 14 years’ imprisonment to life in prison.

This will also now apply to people who have caused death through careless driving, but only if they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.

Before these changes, families were often left feeling that they hadn’t received justice for the death of their loved one. The short sentences previously given to a person responsible for a death by dangerous driving did not reflect the enormity of taking a life as a result of their avoidable actions. In some cases, these sentences weren’t even fully served.

As Road Traffic Accident Solicitors, we see the devastation caused by fatal road collisions first-hand and we hope these new sentencing guidelines will deter people from behaving in a way that puts other road-users in danger.

New Offence – Serious Injury Caused by Careless Driving

Prior to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, there was no sentence given for a person who was found guilty of causing serious injury through careless driving. They were more likely to receive a financial penalty and have their licence temporarily suspended – a punishment that is not reflective of the devasting impact a serious injury can have.

This meant that, before the changes taking effect today, people who had caused significant bodily damage through careless driving didn’t have to face any custodial sentence for the suffering they had inflicted on another driver.

From today, the maximum penalty for someone who is found to have caused serious injury through careless driving will be two years’ imprisonment. This is a positive step towards getting recognition for the impact careless driving can have and we will be monitoring how the Courts utilise these guidelines. 

How Does Careless Driving Differ From Dangerous Driving?

Careless driving is when a person’s standard of driving “falls below what would be expected or a competent and careful driver.” Some examples of careless driving include:

  • using a device while driving;
  • ignoring red lights;
  • overtaking incorrectly;
  • driving too close to the car in front;
  • carrying out sudden stops.

Dangerous driving is when the standard of driving “falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver”. You’re deemed to be driving dangerously if you:

  • drive a vehicle you know has a defect;
  • drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
  • race other cars;
  • carry out dangerous manoeuvres;
  • drive despite knowing you aren’t fit to be at the wheel.

Regardless of whether it was caused by dangerous or careless driving, if you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, you could be entitled to compensation.

Can I Claim Compensation for a Road Traffic Accident?

In England and Wales, the law defines a road traffic accident as any road accident that leads to “bodily injury to any person or damage to property”. If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident and you weren’t to blame, you could be entitled to compensation.

In certain cases, you might even be able to claim if you were partly at fault. We offer a Free Claims Assessment where we’ll discuss your situation with you and let you know if your claim is likely to be successful.

Get in touch with our expert Road Traffic Accident Solicitors to find out if we can help you on a No Win, No Fee basis.  

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