Tougher sentences for banned drivers who cause deaths

Motorway traffic Image copyright PA
Image caption The government said it was bringing in the changes after listening to concerns raised by victims' families

Tougher sentences for banned drivers who cause death on the roads and a new offence of causing serious injury while disqualified are to be introduced.

A disqualified driver who causes death will face a prison sentence of up to 10 years, instead of two years, and the new crime will carry a four-year term.

The government said it was bringing in the changes after listening to concerns raised by victims' families.

The changes are expected to come into force in early 2015.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said he also intended to launch a review of driving offences and penalties to ensure people who put people's lives at risk were punished properly.

This will include those offences caused by uninsured and unlicensed drivers.

'Clear message'

Mr Grayling said: "I want to make our roads safer and ensure people who cause harm face tough penalties.

"Disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for good reason. Those who choose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions.

"Today, we are sending a clear message that anyone who does will face much tougher punishment."

Labour has raised concerns that there are already issues with space in prisons.

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan agreed that those driving without insurance that cause serious injuries or deaths should be properly punished.

But he added: "The government also needs to assure the public that they have enough space in prison to cope with the increased demand.

"The current shortage of space and increased overcrowding on their watch has led to serious problems in our prisons."

The government said it planned to change the law shortly, which will apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

There is a separate framework of road traffic offences in Northern Ireland.

About 8,200 people were convicted for driving while disqualified in 2012, according to Ministry of Justice figures.

There were 16 prosecutions and 13 convictions for causing death by driving when disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured.

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