Law Commission should review driving offences sentencing

Following a public consultation on driving offences, the Government has announced that it will seek to increase maximum penalties for causing death by dangerous driving and for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs, as well as introduce a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

Crispin Blunt MP, a former Minister for Prisons, Probation, youth and criminal justice, commented:

“I regret the fact that the Government’s response to the consultation on driving offences has not asked the Law Commission to look at driving offences in the round. This is a missed opportunity.

“Simply adding to sentence inflation around two specific offences and creating a new offence without considering the inter-relationship of sentencing for these offences is unlikely to make an impact on driving behaviour. These offences should be considered in the context of overall sentencing policy for driving and traffic offences in the round, which the Law Commission would be best equipped to do. There is a risk of simply increasing our prison population with a class of offender who are usually the most compliant and also remorseful about the tragic but unintended consequences of their reckless behaviour.

“The deterrent effect of an increase in sentencing is highly questionable as casualties on our roads remain at a historic low. A proper pathway to restorative justice rather than lengthening prison terms would seem a more appropriate response within a calm examination of sentencing policy. I regret this opportunity has not been taken”.