Skip to main content

Dangerous Driving: Sentencing

Volume 608: debated on Tuesday 26 April 2016

The hon. Lady was quite close, but we are on Question 5. She is ahead of herself, and not for the first time I am sure.

The Government are committed to ensuring that we have robust and consistent punishment for those who cause people to be killed or seriously injured on our roads, and we intend to consult on further proposals this year.

I was unnecessarily keen, as always, Mr Speaker. I asked that question on behalf of one of my constituents, 21-year-old Alex Jeffery, who was killed by a dangerous driver. The sentence given was only four years and three months, and we all know that it will probably end up being less than that. Will there be a time when sentences for causing death by dangerous driving are the same as those for murder? A car can be a weapon in the wrong hands.

I am very aware of the tragic case of my hon. Friend’s constituent, and our deepest sympathies go to his family. Since 2010 the custody rate for causing death by dangerous driving has risen from 52% to 61%, and the average prison sentence has risen by around six months to just under four years. We will look again at that area, and my hon. Friend is right to say that there should be commensurable consistency with sentencing for homicide offences.

The review of sentencing in this area was announced in May 2014, so simply to say that there will be “consultation” this year is not good enough. Will the Minister give the House a clear date, and will he consider ending the charge of causing death by careless driving, which denies families justice?

As I have said, we will consult this year and consider the full range of driving offences. It is important to ensure that there is proper accountability, as well as consistency between bespoke sentences for offences in this area and wider sentencing, particularly for homicide offences.

One key driver of deaths on the road, and indeed all dangerous driving offences, is alcohol. Given the enormous success of the pilot in Croydon, with 93% compliance, and the compelling evidence from the United States, will the Minister consider alcohol abstinence monitoring orders—otherwise known as compulsory sobriety—as a mandatory punishment for those who are convicted of driving offences when alcohol is involved?

My hon. Friend raises an interesting point that is grounded in practice from overseas, and we would certainly be willing to consider that during our consultation.