Following years of dedicated campaigning, the MP for Wealden has welcomed the announcement that the following tougher sentencing will come into force for those who drive dangerously:
- life sentences will be introduced for those who cause death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone;
- life sentences will also be introduced for drivers who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs; and
- a new offence of causing serious injury through careless driving is to be created.
Currently, the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving is fourteen years.
Wealden has the fifth worst record in Britain for serious road accidents involving people being killed or seriously injured. This fact has been brought home in recent months by the tragic deaths of several local people in road accidents across Wealden.
This new legislation forms part of wider action by the Government to make roads safer for all road users and to clamp down on criminal behaviour on our roads.
Commenting on the legislation, Nus Ghani said:
It has taken two and a half years of hard campaigning for this change to be brought about to dangerous driving sentencing and it is gratifying to have been able to deliver on one of my very first policy promises to my constituents. Throughout the process of lobbying, consultation and policy proposals, I have represented the voices of people across Wealden at national level and, together, we have changed legislation.
The legislation has been widely supported by families and campaigners alike. The changes to sentencing come in the wake of a government consultation which revealed strong backing for increased penalties to be made available to the courts in cases of dangerous driving. The consultation, which launched in December last year, received over 1,000 replies in just three days – reaching in excess of 9,000 responses when it closed in February 2017. Responses were received from a large range of people, including: bereaved families, victims and road safety experts.
Ms Ghani was part of a group of four MPs who put the issue of dangerous driving on the Government’s agenda in lobbying for and securing a parliamentary debate on the issue in 2015. Since then Nus has monitored the progress of the consultation closely and has stayed in close contact with her colleagues in the Ministry of Justice and made repeated representations on behalf of Wealden including Westminster Hall Debates in Parliament.
Ms Ghani added:
The new sentencing powers available to courts will mean that the punishment for dangerous driving which causes death will finally reflect the harm caused to victims and their families. It is, of course, for a judge to decide on a sentence based on the full facts of each case, but the new legislation will mean that they finally have the necessary tools to deliver justice in the most severe cases.
Over the years, many local people have written to me about their fears concerning road safety and the inconsistency in the current sentencing for dangerous driving offences compared to the anguish caused by loss of life.
Wealden is unfortunate to have one of the highest levels of road traffic incidents, this new change will, I hope, deter drivers from driving recklessly or driving when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Too many lives have been lost or blighted by road accidents and too much suffering has been caused to the families of victims. I have always hoped that by changing the law so that the sentencing reflected the crime, we could in some way reduce the car accident fatalities.
We owe it to the families of the victims of dangerous driving to do everything we can to make sure that similar incidents do not occur and that others do not have to suffer in the same way.