The Government has announced a significant tightening up of the legislation around dangerous driving, with drivers who seriously injure others now risking much longer jail sentences.
The move in October by the Ministry of Justice has created the offence of “causing serious injury by dangerous driving” which will carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The new offence is being included within the Government’s Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.
However, the Government has stressed that, in the vast majority of cases involving dangerous driving, the maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment will still provide the courts with “sufficient and proportionate powers” to punish such offenders.
If a person causes death by dangerous driving, the maximum sentence is currently 14 years.
Justice secretary Kenneth Clarke said: “Making our roads safer is a priority – five people died on our roads each day last year, so we need to do everything we can to further improve safety.”
The move has been welcomed by road-safety campaigners.
Ellen Booth, senior campaigns officer of the charity Brake, said: “This new offence finally means that serious injury is recognised within the title of the offence, and this recognition is vitally important to victims and their families. It also means that dangerous drivers who inflict serious injuries can expect to see higher sentences to better reflect the terrible trauma and injuries they have caused.”
Andrew Howard, head of road safety at the AA, said: “These law changes should make sentences more proportionate to the devastation dangerous driving causes and should also deter people from driving badly.”