Motoring offences: proposed sentencing guidelines published
A comprehensive package of 12 new and revised sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of motoring offences in England and Wales have been published by the Sentencing Council for a three-month consultation.
The proposals include updated versions of six current guidelines – published in 2008 – and reflect new maximum sentences for some of the offences, including causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The maximum sentence for these two offences increased from 14 years to life imprisonment under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. The proposed guidelines reflect this change and include revised sentencing ranges of up to 18 years in custody.
Guidelines under revision:
- causing death by dangerous driving,
- causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs,
- causing death by careless driving,
- causing death by driving whilst disqualified,
- causing death by driving whilst unlicensed or uninsured, and
- dangerous driving.
Five new guidelines have also been proposed for new offences created since the current guidelines were published. They include causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which has a proposed sentence range of up to five years’ custody, and causing serious injury by driving while disqualified, which has a proposed sentence range of up to four years’ custody.
There is also a new guideline to bring consistency to sentencing offenders convicted of causing injury by wanton or furious driving where a motorist causes injury or death off-road such as in a field or dirt track, or where a cyclist causes death or injury at any location, with a proposed sentence range of up to two years’ custody.
New offence guidelines:
- causing serious injury by dangerous driving
- causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified,
- causing serious injury by careless driving (a new offence created by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022),
- causing injury by wanton or furious driving,
- driving or attempting to drive with a specified drug above the specified limit,
- being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified drug above the specified limit.
What will be the impact of these new guidelines on sentence length?
Overall, the guideline is anticipated to increase sentences for several offences, where sentence levels have been driven either by the changes to legislation introduced under the PCSC Act 2022, for sections 1 and 3A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, or by the knock-on effect this has had on other related motoring offences. It is estimated that the draft guidelines, in reflecting the increase in statutory maximum penalties, may result in a requirement for up to around 260 additional prison places for causing death by dangerous driving, around 20 additional prison places for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, and around 80 additional prison places for causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
For the offences of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and dangerous driving, it is anticipated that the draft guidelines may result in an impact on prison and probation resources, although it is not possible to quantify any impact at this stage. For the other offences covered by the draft guidelines, it is difficult to estimate the impact of the guidelines, either due to low volumes or due to a lack of data available on how current cases would be categorised under the new guideline. However, it is anticipated that for these offences the draft guidelines will improve consistency of sentencing for these offences, but not lead to any notable changes in sentencing severity.
For causing death by dangerous driving, the analysis found that the average final custodial sentence increased on average by 1 year 11 months.
For causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, the analysis found that the average custodial sentence length increased by 1 year 1 month.
For causing serious injury by dangerous driving it is projected that sentences may increase by an average of 7 months.
As always we will monitor the outcome of this consultation closely in order that we can properly advise in relation to sentencing outcomes.
How can we help?
We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact our crime team on 01743248545 or email email@example.com.
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