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Driving laws reviewed

Published: 24 December 2006

A tough new package of laws aimed at people who kill on the roads could see killer drivers jailed for life and even for manslaughter in 2007.

Drivers using mobile phones while driving, tailgaters, undertaking, running red lights, not paying attention while tuning the radio and pulling out of junctions in front of another vehicle are all under review.

These offences put motorcyclists at serious risk of injury and seem to have been almost forgotten until now.

The review has been called by Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald.

He said: “We have strong feelings that public views have moved along at a pace in recent years and we want to make sure our policies reflect public views.

"The test is if you were standing on the pavement and saw something would you think 'That's bloody dangerous'? If you thought it was dangerous, would you prosecute it as dangerous driving?

“Do people regard as dangerous types of driving that they would not have regarded as dangerous five or 10 years ago? My feeling is that public attitudes have moved on."

The move comes as a result of changing public perceptions towards bad driving and outcry after lenient sentences being handed out to killer drivers.

“Bad driving resulting in death or injury can have devastating consequences for victims, and families and friends of victims,” added McDonald.

“A dangerous manoeuvre, or a moment of carelessness may result in tragedy that can, in a matter of seconds, change people’s lives forever.

“As Director of Public Prosecutions I am acutely aware of the sensitivity of cases involving bad driving and the widespread pain and suffering that is caused, particularly where someone has died.

“One thing I have noted in particular is the very real desire on the part of victims or their families and friends to see that justice is done.”

A consultation paper is open to public responses until March 16, 2007. Details of how to respond are listed at the bottom of this page.

The types of offences under review are currently prosecuted as careless driving but this would become dangerous driving category.

The new tougher laws could come into force with the Road Safety Act 2006 – due for completion and implementation in 2007.

The act will also create a new offence of causing death through careless driving and carrying a sentence of five years in prison. For even more serious offences a prosecution under manslaughter could be opened up for road deaths for the first time.

Macdonald added: “I am well aware that on occasion we reach prosecution decisions that victims or families do not agree with, find hard to accept or do not understand.  “Whatever the reasons, I believe that as an organisation we must do more to make sure that our decisions are correct, in line with current law and take account of, so far as is just and lawful, changing views as to, for example, what amounts to dangerous or careless driving.

Evidence of the shifts in attitudes are well illustrated by the new offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death while unlawfully on a road that have been created under the Road Safety Act 2006.”

HOW TO RESPOND TO THE SURVEY:

The CPS statement says: “We welcome views from everyone with an interest in the topic. This document will be widely circulated and available on the CPS website at www.cps.gov.uk

Please include your name, organisation (if any), postal address and email address. The can be downloaded from the CPS website at www.cps.gov.uk


Responses can also be sent by post to:

Prosecuting Bad Driving Consultation

Crown Prosecution Service

Policy Directorate, United House, Piccadilly, York YO1 9PQ

Or by email at: baddriving.cpsconsultation@cps.gsi.gov.uk


Closing date for responses: Friday, March 16, 2007.

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