Life Sentences for Dangerous Drivers Who Kill. What Do You Think?

Life Sentences for Dangerous Drivers Who Kill. What Do You Think?

Welcome to my first Blog of 2017.

News this week of plans of the Ministry of Justice for the maximum prison sentence available to Judges for the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs.

At present the maximum sentence for both offences is fourteen years jail time.

The proposal is a new maximum of life imprisonment.

Link here

As the government website says, in 2015 at least 143 deaths were caused by dangerous driving, or by careless driving by drinker/drug users.

Notwithstanding that the maximum sentence for these drivers was 14 years as stated, in fact the average prison sentence imposed was under 4 years. No doubt several of those sentences were suspended.

The express hope of the Ministry is that a much increased maximum will filter through to the mind-set of Judges, tending to an increase in that 4 year average sentence.

You may have an opinion: if so, you can take part in an online “consultation” – link here.

My take on this [it’s hardly as thought out as to be actually an opinion] is that death on the road is such an emotive tragedy that few people, if any, can take an objective view.  For example, it is rare that the family of the driver will agree with the family of the deceased about sentencing.

And I also fail to understand the legal significance of death being involved as an element of the sentence. Or indeed, of the need for the offences at all. If the death was actually intended, surely the charge should be murder?

Or, if the driving was such that its consequences could include death as any reasonable person would realise, then the element of recklessness would justify a charge of manslaughter?

And tell me, if a dangerous driver, or a drunk/drugged careless one is lucky enough not to cause a death – why is that relevant? If nobody died this time, they might next time, so why on earth not impose the life sentence now?

All a bit grim for a New Year blog.

To lighten the mood, here are a few road traffic reports this century culled from the media by my fellow Notary Dr John Kirkwood.

2016 Wenzhou China. Police stopped Mr Wu while he was driving. He was attached to a medical intravenous drip system and talking on his mobile at the same time. In his defence he said he was good at multitasking.

2006 England. Mr Omed Aziz stopped by traffic police in the Midlands for dangerous driving. On being asked to remove his dark glasses the police discovered he had no eyes. Link here. [And a more deserving candidate for a life imprisonment sentence could hardly be imagined? No need for someone to die before potting him I would have thought?]

2004 Australia. Mr Collinson prosecuted for driving without a licence. His defence was “necessity”. There was, he said, an urgent need to deliver condoms to his cousin. Too much information?

2005 England. Sarah McCaffery convicted and fined £60 for driving round a bend with an apple in her hand. 10 Court hearings, evidence from a police spotter plane and helicopter and video from a police car. Total cost to secure a conviction – £10,000.00. Well, yes, that’s what the papers said – typical link here. Although this case resulted in questions in the House of Lords where the costs of the helicopter element were stated to be a somewhat more modest £425. Link here.

2010 Scotland. Michael Mancini stationary in traffic, car in neutral and handbrake on. Pulled out a tissue to blow his nose. Signalled into a parking bay by PC Gray who said he was failing to control his vehicle. Fined £60 and licence endorsed. Link here [case was eventually dropped after appeal]

2013 Scotland. Ronald Gell claimed he had not been driving under the influence since his dog was driving. Link here

Mr Tichenor – Defence – driving 112 mph to attend court to pay a speeding fine. Link here.

I suspect the last two gentlemen were not taking the police, or their own predicaments, too seriously.

Only one song suggests itself, link here

Here at AtkinsonNotary, we don’t deal with motoring cases [we can put you in touch with Solicitors who do, of course.] But when you need your papers properly presented for use abroad, book your appointment with us, at AtkinsonNotary [0113 816 0116 or] where we shall be more than happy to assist.

Happy New Year to you.