Dangerous Driving and Sentencing

I join the Government in their commitment to seeing safer roads for all road users. It is important to consider that many deaths and injuries on the roads are a consequence of tragic accidents. However, too many involve criminal behaviour and I agree that more needs to be done to ensure justice is served in cases where culpability of an offender is high.

I am very clear that punishments must fit the crime. However, often families feel that this is not the case with killer drivers. I am encouraged the Government is taking action to put this right.

I welcome the fact that the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will increase the maximum penalties for causing death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs to life imprisonment.

In addition, it is the case that there is a gap in the law relating to serious injury. I therefore welcome the fact that the Bill will also create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

I am aware of the amendments proposed to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill regarding the definition of exceptional hardship. However, I do not believe it is necessary to further define what should be considered exceptional hardship when deciding whether or not to disqualify a driver. I am concerned that the amendment would introduce a narrow definition that would not be able to account for all the circumstances that are presented to the courts. It would remove the courts freedom to use their experience to reach decisions based on all of the circumstances of the cases before them. I will however follow the debate on this amendment carefully as the PCSC Bill progresses through Parliament.

I am glad that the Government is taking action on the issue of causing death by dangerous driving. It is also the case that under the Bail Act 1976, the police can impose bail conditions for particular purposes, one of which is to ensure there is no further offence committed while on bail. A driving ban as a condition of police bail may be appropriate for some cases.

I will continue to support measures by the Government to strengthen sentencing, ensure justice is served and increase public confidence in the criminal justice system.