Guilty drivers can expect life sentences under new legal guidelines.

The government has announced plans to introduce harsh new sentences for drivers who kill others by driving dangerously or under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Ministers plan to:

  • Increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years to life
  • Increase the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life
  • Create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving

The Ministry of Justice confirmed that drivers who cause death by speeding, racing or using a mobile phone could face sentences equivalent to manslaughter, with maximum penalties raised from 14 years to life.

Those who cause death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs will also face the prospect of a life sentence – a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will be created. 

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The government reports that in 2016, 157 people were sentenced for causing death by dangerous driving, with a further 32 convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence.

Justice minister Dominic Raab said: ‘We’ve taken a long hard look at driving sentences. Based on the seriousness of the worst cases, the anguish of the victims’ families and maximum penalties for other serious offences such as manslaughter, we intend to introduce life sentences of imprisonment for those who wreck lives by driving dangerously, drunk or high on drugs.’

Campaigners have welcome the move – Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake said: ‘Today's announcement is a major victory for the families of victims and charities, including Brake, who have tirelessly campaigned for punishments which better fit road crimes that kill and seriously injure people.

‘We applaud the government for at last recognising that the statute books have been weighed against thousands of families who have had their lives torn apart through the actions of drivers who have flagrantly broken the law.’