Jan 5, 2018
There are motoring offences and there are motoring offences. Some, like not wearing a seat belt, attract relatively low penalties and are viewed – individually, at least – as being minor in nature.
At the other end of the spectrum are motoring offences that cause death or serious injury. These have been the subject of much recent scrutiny, with the Government having consulted on the public’s views on these offences and the appropriate sanctions.
The result is that the law will be changed in the following ways:
- A person who causes death by dangerous driving or death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs will face a maximum penalty of life imprisonment (a significant increase on the current maximum of 14 years); and
- There will be a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.
It will be for the courts to decide on the penalty to impose in each case; something that will be influenced by the circumstances of the incident, the harm caused, and the driver’s culpability.
The Government is aiming to bring the new sanctions into force as soon as possible. But what effect they will have on drivers’ behaviour, habits and attitudes remains to be seen. While it is hoped that tougher penalties will contribute to a fall in the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads, the reality for many drivers is that the full realisation of what their legal liability means only hits home once an incident has happened – by which time it’s of course too late.
We see this all the time. As lawyers who specialise in defending people charged with motoring offences, we are usually the first to tell our clients about the extent of the potential punishment facing them. But we’re also the people who fight our clients’ corner.
So our message is clear: take your responsibilities as a driver seriously. And, if you do get involved in a road traffic accident, make sure to get early legal advice from a lawyer who deals with these cases day in, day out. Given the impending increased penalties, that looks set to become more important than ever.
If you have a query over a motoring offence, contact Richard Gregory, our Litigation Partner on 01264 325811, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our no obligation, online enquiry form and we will be happy to discuss your particular circumstances further.
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