Over 80% of death drivers avoid jail

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More than four out of five careless drivers who kill walk free from courts, an MCN investigation can reveal.

All but 48 of the first 313 people sentenced for the new offence of causing death by careless driving avoided jail.

The offence was created to bring more proportionate sentencing for taking a life. It allows offenders to be jailed for up to five years for the first time. Previously motorists who killed through inattention were likely to be charged only with careless driving. 

But Ministry of Justice figures show that most offenders continue to receive non-custodial sentences including driving bans and unpaid community work, while none has so far been given the maximum five years’ jail.

The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, cover the period from the introduction of the offence in August 2008 to the end of 2010.

Their release follows a string of high-profile cases in which drivers have walked free after causing the death of a motorcyclist.

Nich Brown, General Secretary of the Motorcycle Action Group, said: “We have a justice system demonstrably capable of turning a blind eye to the most appalling acts of negligent and dangerous driving that leave innocent riders dead or severely injured, while at the same time jailing riders whose actions result in no death or injury as if they had.

“It begs the question, are individuals treated differently according to their chosen mode of travel?”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “The sentences for each individual case are decided by the independent judges and magistrates using the full facts available to them. They will base their decisions on guidelines produced by the independent Sentencing Council.”

Read more in MCN, on sale today.

Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell