Road Safety News

Bill calls for tougher penalties for criminal driving offences and better treatment for victims

Wednesday 13th January 2016

A Bill which seeks to strengthen penalties for criminal driving offences that lead to serious injury or death was presented to parliament yesterday (12 January).

The Criminal Driving (Justice for Victims) Bill was introduced to the House of Commons by Lib Dem MP Greg Mulholland and has received backing from MPs across the House as well as from the road safety charity Brake.

The Bill also looks to redefine criminal driving offences and amend bail conditions for those charged, and enhance standards of investigation by the police and in the Courts.
It also demands improved standards of treatment for victims of criminal driving offences and their families within the justice system.
The Leeds North West MP has been a long time campaigner for better justice for victims of road crime.
Commenting on his own website, Mr Mulholland said: “I have seen the devastation these serious crimes cause and witnessed just a little of the grief of the families of Jamie Still from Otley and David and Dorothy Metcalf from Cookridge, who were killed by criminally reckless driving. 
“There are families up and down the country who have been through the same life shattering experience of losing loved ones. Yet as if the devastation and loss were not enough, too many of these families have been failed by the justice system, too many victims have been denied justice. 
“We will all be holding government to account in the months ahead, especially with a consultation document on potential changes now expected later this year. I am writing to justice ministers to ask them to look at what the Criminal Driving Bill calls for and how soon we can bring forward these changes."
Brake is supporting the Bill, which was co-sponsored by 30 MPs from across the House.
Alice Bailey, campaigns and communications officer for Brake, said: “Too many victims of crashes caused by dangerous drivers are simply not getting justice at the moment. 
“They and their families are often left feeling let down and insulted by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and overly lenient sentences. Drivers who have killed while taking illegal risks have too often been labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and given insultingly low sentences, when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive. 
“Greg has seen first-hand the devastating consequences of crashes on two families in his constituency, and Brake supports hundreds of victims and their families whose lives have been torn apart every year. 
“They have already suffered so much and we must make sure their pain is not compounded by a lack of justice. It’s time this bill became law.”
Click here to watch the Bill being discussed in parliament on 12 January.


Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:
Captcha [What is this?]

There is a serious gap in the law where "car dooring" offences are concerned. My Husband was killed when a woman opened her door onto him when he was on his bike. This is not the first time there has a been such a fatality or serious injury. Because the car was not moving, none of the driving offences applied. The CPS refused to charge for manslaughter citing the usual mantra of "insufficient evidence". She got away with a paltry £200 fine and a 6 month driving ban following a charge under the Road Vehicle Construction and Use Regulations. There needs to be an offence of causing death or serious injury from use of a motor vehicle whether it is moving or not. I hope this can be included in the Bill.

The Victims' Right to Review Scheme, which supposedly gives victims or their families the right to challenge the CPS's charging decisions, is so feeble that it is not worth the paper it is written on.

There are many more very important issues raised in Greg's speech. I wish him every success.
May, Southport

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

There is a significant difference in sentencing a person for dangerous driving as opposed to careless driving. Looking through cases where the driver appears in court charged with dangerous driving and because the system effectively offers the accused the opportunity of pleading guilty of a charge rather than go through a trial. It is in the interests of the accused to plead guilty to the lesser offence - which in most cases means that they will not have to go to prison, but receive a suspended sentence for a minimal length of time e.g. 18 months - to a couple of years. That's the way the system is or has been up till now. The courts want an easy way out to save time and money (IMHO). Whether this proposal changes anything with be interesting to see.
Elaine, France

Agree (7) | Disagree (0)

I am somewhat surprised that neither of the two previous comments noted the call to remove the lesser charge of causing death by careless driving. I would therefore encourage anyone interested to click further on the hyperlinks above to find out what was actually proposed and debated.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (1) | Disagree (2)

First impression was, who is this Bill as the picture is of Greg Mulholland. Second impression was similar to Paul Biggs and third impression was this came out at the same time we were told of so many people still driving with 20, 30, 40 points on a licence where extreme harshness is accepted by magistrates. Strengthening the legislation and the penalties need to be followed up by educating magistrates about what is happening out there and their responsibility to help protect the public from people who appear to have a very selfish attitude.
Peter, City of Westminster

Agree (19) | Disagree (0)

It's not clear to me what he is specifically asking for. I think this is the existing law here:

14 years is the current maximum sentence increased from 10 years with effect from 2004. A previous attempt by MP Andrea Leadsom to plug a gaping hole in the justice system via a 10 minute Rule bill failed in 2011:'s-blog/dangerous-and-reckless-cycling-10-minute-rule-bill/266
Paul Biggs, Tamworth

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)