Justice Minister, Mike Penning, has said that he plans to close a loophole in the law that allows killer drivers to leave prison and get straight behind the wheel of a car again before Easter. Under current rules, a driving ban runs concurrently to a prison sentence, so if a person receives a 4 year disqualification but has to serve a five year prison sentence for death by dangerous driving, it means that the ban could have been served by the time they are released.
Plans have been discussed to close this loophole, so that the disqualification would start once the offender is released rather than the day they are sentenced. Victims and families of victims have welcomed the proposals, along with driving groups, and further changes are also afoot that would see courts able to hand out longer bans while imposing lengthier prison sentences on those that cause death by dangerous driving.
Causing death by dangerous driving, or causing death by dangerous driving while under the influence of alcohol, are among the most serious of motoring offences. As such, they should carry the harshest penalties. The maximum prison sentence that can be handed to a driver that is found guilty of one of these crimes is a 14 year sentence, but a 5 year sentence is much more commonly given. Ministers have said that they want courts to hand out lengthier sentences.
Mr Penning also said that it is nothing short of an insult that the family of a dangerous driving death victim would have to see the killer walk out of jail and get straight behind the wheel of a car again, and that he aims to prevent this from ever happening again by changing the law early this year, and before Easter.
Under the current law, driving bans and prison sentences run concurrently, but under the new laws, a driving disqualification would only start once the driver was freed from prison. A five year prison sentence and a four year ban could mean that the driver would not be allowed behind the wheel of a car for a total of nine years in some cases.