This month the Ministry of Justice announced longer sentences for offenders who defy driving bans and cause accidents on the roads. Under the new law drivers can face a prison sentence of up to 10 years when the accident results in death and up to 4 years when causing serious injury.
The announcement marks a significant increase in sentence time from the current maximum jail term of two years and no specific offence for causing serious injury while disqualified.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: “Disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for good reason. Those who chose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions.”
The increased sentenced was welcomed by Kelly Woodruff, who has been campaigning for longer sentences after her brother and sister-in-law, Ross and Claire Woodruff, were killed while cycling by a disqualified driver in January, 2013. Since the accident they have received over 6,829 signatures as part of their petition for harsher penalties for banned drivers.
The driver responsible for their deaths already had 11 convictions for driving while disqualified and 4 convictions for dangerous driving. He received the maximum sentence available under the current guidelines of 10 years 6 months after pleading guilty to causing their deaths by dangerous driving.
While the announcement won’t have any effect on the sentence handed to the driver who caused the deaths of Ross and Claire Woodruff, their families acknowledged “The jump from two years to 10 years for disqualified drivers who cause death is a huge first step and both families welcome this move.”
In 2012 there were 8,200 people convicted for driving while disqualified. 13 of which were convicted for the offence of causing death while disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured. Mr Grayling said the new sentences will act as a deterrent to banned drivers “sending a clear message that anyone who does will face much tougher punishment”
The Justice Security also announced plans to review all driving offences and penalties committed by uninsured and unlicensed drivers. The Government expects the new sentences to be made into law in early 2015.