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MPs Calling For Tougher Punishments For Drivers Who Kill

By raccars Published

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A movement is afoot to ensure drivers who kill are given tougher penalties, with MPs concerned that the current regime is too lenient. Ministers are pressing for the charge of manslaughter to be applied, to enable longer prison sentences to be given in cases of death by dangerous driving. Currently, the maximum sentence applicable to the charge is 14 years.

Next year sees ministers undertaking a large scale review of the law around motoring offences, which they believe is an ideal time to introduce the change in law. Conservative MP, Alok Sharma, is a supporter of tougher penalties. He highlighted, during an emotional speech in the House of Commons, a case where the driver of a stolen car was imprisoned for only ten years, after hitting and fatally injuring two cyclists, members of Mr Sharma's constituency. This is despite driving while disqualified and exceeding the legal blood alcohol limit by two and a half times. The case has spawned an e-petition signed by 25,000, supporting the notion of tougher sentencing in death by dangerous driving cases. Mr Sharma believes that punishments for the lesser offence of dangerous driving could also do with some attention and he plans to pursue the issue to seek a change in the law.

His sentiments were echoed by Dartford Conservative MP, Gareth Johnson, who called upon the Crown Prosecution Service to consider that manslaughter would be a more appropriate charge in many cases than death by dangerous driving. The debate also centres around the condition that any sentences should be served consecutively, rather than concurrently. Although the debate, held last week at Westminster Hall, only ran for half an hour, there were an unusually high number of contributions from MPs of all three main political parties, for once in agreement on the issue. The next step is to take the question of tougher sentencing to a public consultation.

The Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims Minister, Mike Penning, responding during the debate, has cautioned that the matter is complicated by the matter of intent. He claims that the difficulty of proving intent often leaves the CPS hesitant to pursue a charge of manslaughter or murder. However, Mr Penning did confirm that the law is to change, to mean that offenders banned from driving will serve that part of their punishment after any prison term has finished, rather than concurrently, as per the existing law.

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