New ‘serious injury’ offence will plug gap in driving legislation

08.21 | 7 October 2011 | | 5 comments

A proposed new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving will carry a maximum sentence of five years.

The new offence will be introduced as an amendment to the Government’s Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

The maximum jail term for dangerous driving is two years, while those convicted of death by dangerous driving can face up to 14 years. Last year more than 3,000 drivers were convicted of dangerous driving and 154 of causing death by dangerous driving. The proposed new offence will fill a gap between these two offences.

The proposed new offence will be dealt with at magistrates and crown courts and drivers could also face an unlimited fine alongside a jail term.

Kenneth Clarke, justice secretary, said: "We have listened to the victims of dangerous drivers, their families, MPs, judges and road safety groups and their experiences have directly informed these changes.”

Click here to read the full BBC News report.


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    Graham Feest’s point is a very good one. Individuals do contribute to most accidents, although rarely deliberately, I’d suggest.

    However, the individual making the greatest contribution is not always the driver – as those of us who are replacing the many “iatrogenic” blacksites resulting from minor “improvements” will know.

    Sending engineers to prison, however, would have been even less effective than sending drivers to prison will prove, because it would have suppressed the vital question, “Why?”, and we would not have the Design Manual for Road and Bridges, which has been so effective in making our roads safer.

    Andrew Fraser STIRLING
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    Graham’s argument is an ideal topic for a round table debate but not much more. “Intentionally dangerous” is analogous with malice aforethought. Were I to stab someone in the chest, I may not have intended to pierce the heart and kill them, but I did, therefore I must answer for the consequences of my actions. What Graham refers to as “an innocent mistake” can equally be termed criminal negligence. If a person has lost their life – the ultimate, irreversible price – we must not be mealy-mouthed or academic. The offence and its outcome remain interlinked. To break-in to someone’s empty home may, in basic terms, not be significant to a calm rational mind but the trauma and psychological damage it can do to the victim can be disproportionate and long-lasting. The criminal must be punished for the package of damage he inflicts, intended or not, and that includes the mental and physical injury to the innocent that the law is designed to protect.

    More the once, I have knelt over the body of a dead child killed by a criminally negligent driver who was not paying attention hence I do not share my former colleague’s view. Perhaps I am being unkind to Graham because, may I assume, he has not had front-line experience so does not see the world through my eyes.

    Experientia Docet is a great motto.

    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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    If five years is the maximum, it is more likely that 3 years will be imposed and they will be out in 18 months.

    Again I am with Roy, but why listen to people like Roy and I who have been there on the roads dealing with the poorly trained and just pure selfish drivers who are out there putting lives at risk.

    You do not have zoos without keepers so why treat the roads differently?

    Alan Hale – South Gloucestershire Council Road Safety Team
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    In some cases it will be clear when driving has fallen below a standard which makes it clearly dangerous but that said there is a difference between what is intentionally dangerous and what is deemed dangerous from quite an innocent error or mistake. If we accept that drivers make mistakes then we need to be careful about how we use any laws to lock people away. In broad terms I am very anti the laws which bring about prison for acts of causing death by careless driving as well as the new proposals. We continue to judge and sentence by outcome rather than offence which cannot be right. Crashes are caused by individuals but outcomes are far less predicable which makes that error or mistake unfairly judged if as a result a death occurs.

    Graham Feest – AIRSO

    Graham Feest
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    This is an improvement in the legislation relating to death by dangerous driving but let it not be forgotten that punishment comes when all else has failed. It is prudent to beseech the Government to take more robust steps towards efficient enforcement as a means of preventing the deaths in the first place. Well policed roads are safe roads, the evidence is knee deep but the Government choose to ignore it.

    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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