Car insurance: Dangerous drivers face severe sentences

Monday, 11 September 2006

A more severe sentence for dangerous drivers could be on the cards, following concerns raised by the director of public prosecutions.

Ken McDonald QC has argued that the sentences dangerous drivers currently receive are not always appropriate and has called for prosecutors to be "more robust" in their handling of such cases.

Mr McDonald has urged for more careful consideration to be given before the offence of dangerous driving is replaced with careless driving.

Speaking on the Today programme of BBC Radio Four, he explained that there were two possible offences a driver could be charged with if someone was killed on the road.

The first, causing death by dangerous driving, carries a term of imprisonment, while those convicted of careless driving are not jailed and the main concern for such convicted drivers is often the effect of the conviction on their car insurance premium.

Mr McDonald explained: "If you simply lean over to switch on a radio or turn briefly to speak to someone else in the car and you're then involved in an accident and somebody gets killed, the criminal law traditionally has said it was a momentary lapse, the death was not part of your intention and therefore you shouldn't be punished for the death; you should be punished for what you did which was a lapse of attention."

However, Mr McDonald explained that a new offence of causing death by careless driving has been introduced by government.

This new charge will allow courts to consider the aggravating circumstance of a person being killed when passing sentence to the driver responsible.

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