UK mobile phone driving laws explained by the RAC
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As part of the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, the new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will come into force on June 28, 2022. Judges will also be able to hand down life sentences for those who kill while under the influence of drink or drugs.
Currently, the penalty for each crime is a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.
The new law is part of a clear commitment by the Government to increase driving standards and to punish those who do not give their full attention to the road.
It is hoped this will close the loophole that allows those who cause permanent disability to a victim through careless driving to avoid prosecution.
The proposed law was first announced in 2017, when Justice Minister Dominic Raab said it would deal with those who “wreck lives” with their actions.
Commenting on the new laws, Jessica Maguire, legal assistant at criminal law firm Corker Binning told Express.co.uk what it would mean for drivers.
She said: “A longstanding and conspicuous void in the Road Traffic Act 1988 has been filled.
“Previously, where an individual’s driving was careless (i.e. ‘falling below the standards expected of a competent and careful driver’) and as a result caused a fatality, the driver could be prosecuted for causing death by careless driving.
“If the careless driving caused another to suffer serious injury, only a prosecution for the careless driving could be brought.
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“If the individual’s driving could be proven dangerous, then a charge of either causing death or serious injury by dangerous driving was available.
“If a Prosecutor was not able to meet the exceptionally high evidential threshold for dangerousness, a driver who had caused serious injury to another would face a summary only offence, punishable by disqualification and an unlimited fine.
“Many saw this as a problematic loophole which did not do justice to those permanently disabled by the careless driving of another.”
Along with this addition, the Act will increase penalties for both causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs.
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Individuals prosecuted for these offences will now face life imprisonment.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said he hoped the threat of a life sentence will be enough to cause those who drive recklessly to change their ways.
He added: “Drivers exhibiting the worst behaviour on the roads are a danger to us all.
“Those who behave with disregard to the risk they pose deserve the stiffest penalties when their actions rob others of their lives.”
In April, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced plans to crack down on drug-driving.
He suggested that proposals would require drug-drivers to undertake rehabilitation courses before being allowed back behind the wheel.
Reform would bring penalties for drug-driving in line with drink-driving.
Currently, those convicted of drug-driving are handed a driving ban, prison sentence or fine by the courts, but aren’t required to complete rehabilitation courses before resuming driving – unlike drink-drivers.
In a call for evidence, the Government is asking whether drug-drivers should likewise have to undergo rehabilitation, helping better protect the public.
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