Calls to jail killer drivers for at least ten years
Two thirds of Britons believe that drivers who kill due to criminal behaviour should be jailed for at least ten years.
And more than 90 per cent say that those who kill while drunk or on drugs behind the wheel should be charged with manslaughter - facing a potential life sentence.
The figures were revealed in a survey conducted to mark road safety charity Brake’s Roads to Justice campaign.
The campaign is calling for stronger sentences for those who cause a death through criminal actions behind the wheel and the survey suggests strong support for its position.
Sixty-six per cent of those questioned said that anyone whose criminal driving causes a death should face a mandatory sentence of at least ten years, with more than a quarter (28.6 per cent) saying it should be at least 15 years.
At the moment the drivers charged with causing death by careless driving or death by dangerous driving face sentences ranging from 24 weeks to 14 years but Brake says it is rare for terms at the higher end of the range to be handed out. The average sentence for a driver who has killed is currently less than four years and half of those convicted are not jailed at all.
Brake is calling on the Government to immediately review guidelines for both charging and sentencing criminal drivers.
This new campaign is being backed by a number of recently bereaved families who say they have not had justice for their loved ones.
Dawn and Ian Brown-Lartey’s son Joseph, was killed when a speeding driver ran a red light at more than 80mph. Today, the car Joseph was driving, which was cut in two by the collision, is being put on public display outside the House of Commons.
Joseph’s parents said: “We will never get over the loss of our beautiful son Joseph, who had his whole life ahead of him. Hearing that his killer will serve half of a six-year sentence was a further slap in the face to us and our family. The law needs to change so that sentences for causing death by dangerous driving reflect the crime.”
Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “There are too many families, like the Brown-Larteys, who suffer the double trauma of losing a loved one in a sudden and violent way, and then witness the judicial system turning its back on them. That’s why we’re launching our Roads to Justice campaign, which calls on government to get tough on criminal drivers who kill or seriously injure others.
“We believe the public are behind us, judging from our survey results. People we work with tell us they are left feeling betrayed by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and lenient sentences.
“Drivers who kill while taking illegal risks are too often labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and then given insultingly low sentences when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive.”