7 July 2022
Motoring offences: proposed sentencing guidelines published
A comprehensive package of 12 new and revised sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of motoring offences in England and Wales have been published today by the Sentencing Council for a three-month consultation.
The proposals include updated versions of six current guidelines – published in 2008 – and reflect new maximum sentences for some of the offences, including causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The maximum sentence for these two offences increased from 14 years to life imprisonment under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. The proposed guidelines reflect this change and include revised sentencing ranges of up to 18 years in custody.
The six guidelines will be updated in line with the current, step-by-step format of sentencing guidelines now used by the courts. They are the final set of sentencing guidelines published by the former Sentencing Guidelines Council to be updated by the Sentencing Council.
Five new guidelines have also been proposed for new offences created since the current guidelines were published. They include causing serious injury by dangerous driving, which has a proposed sentence range of up to five years’ custody, and causing serious injury by driving while disqualified, which has a proposed sentence range of up to four years’ custody.
There is also a new guideline to bring consistency to sentencing offenders convicted of causing injury by wanton or furious driving where a motorist causes injury or death off-road such as in a field or dirt track, or where a cyclist causes death or injury at any location, with a proposed sentence range of up to two years’ custody.
Sentencing Council member, Mrs Justice Juliet May, said:
“Those committing motoring offences can cause death or serious injury to other road users and members of the public, and it is important that courts have appropriate sentencing guidelines that reflect the current laws when dealing with these cases.
“These can be some of the most difficult cases to sentence, where what might seem a fairly minor example of bad driving can have the most tragic and long-lasting consequences. It is therefore right that we provide the courts with guidelines that will allow them to take a consistent approach.”
These are also the first guidelines that specifically set out how drivers who drive or are in charge of a vehicle while over the legal limit for drugs should be sentenced by the courts. The guidelines replace non-statutory guidance that the Council published in 2016.
The culpability factors proposed for dangerous driving offences are common across all the dangerous driving guidelines, whether the harm is death or serious injury. They include racing or competitive driving, speed greatly in excess of speed limit, or consumption of substantial amounts of alcohol or drugs leading to gross impairment.
The culpability factors proposed for careless driving offences are also common across all the careless driving guidelines. They include engaging in a brief but avoidable distraction, driving at a speed that is inappropriate for the prevailing road or weather conditions or driving whilst impaired by consumption of drugs or alcohol.
The Council is seeking views on the draft guidelines – which apply to adult offenders only – from judges, magistrates and others with an interest in this area. The consultation will run from 7 July to 29 September 2022.
Notes to editors
- The full list of guidelines under revision is shown below:
- causing death by dangerous driving,
- causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs,
- causing death by careless driving,
- causing death by driving whilst disqualified,
- causing death by driving whilst unlicensed or uninsured, and
- dangerous driving.
- The full list of new guidelines for consultation is shown below:
- causing serious injury by dangerous driving
- causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified,
- causing serious injury by careless driving (a new offence created by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022),
- causing injury by wanton or furious driving,
- driving or attempting to drive with a specified drug above the specified limit,
- being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified drug above the specified limit.
- All new sentencing guidelines follow more recent Council guideline models and include a stepped approach to sentencing
- Sentencing guidelines must be followed, unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interest of justice to do so in all the circumstances of a particular case.
- Guidelines set sentencing ranges within the maximum for the offence as set out in current legislation..
- The Sentencing Council was established by Parliament to be an independent body, but accountable to Parliament for its work which is scrutinised by the Justice Select Committee. Justice Ministers are accountable to Parliament for the Sentencing Council’s effectiveness and efficiency, for its use of public funds and for protecting its independence. Judicial Council members are appointed by the Lord Chief Justice with the agreement of the Lord Chancellor. Non-judicial council members are appointed by the Lord Chancellor with the agreement of the Lord Chief Justice.
For more information, please contact Kathryn Montague, Sentencing Council Press Office, on 020 7071 5792 / 5788 / 07912301657 or email firstname.lastname@example.org