New offence of dangerous driving announced

On 7th October, Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke announced a new criminal offence will be introduced to help to provide justice to seriously injured victims of dangerous drivers.

Currently, there is no charge that specifically recognises the causing of serious injury
while driving, so drivers who inflict serious injury through reckless and irresponsible behaviour, may only be charged with ‘dangerous driving’, which carries a maximum of two years in jail, or ‘careless driving’, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine and disqualification.

Under the new law, drivers can be charged with ‘causing serious injury by dangerous driving’ and face up to five years in prison and an unlimited fine. The maximum sentence
of five years in prison, bridges the gap between the offence of causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a 14-year maximum prison term, and other dangerous driving cases, which have a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment.

The new offence will be taken forward as part of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill.

Ellen Booth, is Senior Campaigns Officer for Brake, an independent road safety charity. She said: “Brake welcomes this new offence, which will help provide justice to families whose lives have been ripped apart by dangerous drivers. As a charity that supports bereaved and seriously injured road crash victims, we hear first-hand about the pain and suffering they experience, and repeatedly see these families being grossly let down by the justice system, which only adds to their trauma.

This finally means that serious injury is recognised in the name of an offence, and this is vitally important to victims and their families. It also means dangerous drivers who inflict serious injury can expect to see higher sentences that are more in line with the devastation they have caused, which in some cases includes permanently debilitating injuries that leave people with round the clock care needs.

We hope to see courts using the full range of sentences available for this and other serious driving offences, up to the maximum. We also hope that in future the maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving will increase to 14 years, in line with causing death by dangerous driving, so the punishment better reflects the gravitas of the crime and the appalling suffering inflicted on families.”

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is in agreement. Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s
Head of Road Safety, said: “RoSPA has previously called for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving to be extended to cover causing serious injury, so we welcome the announcement of a new offence of ‘causing serious injury by dangerous driving’. To ensure this new law works as intended, it will be absolutely crucial to ensure that it is
applied consistently in terms of prosecution and sentencing.

We also believe that the offences of causing death by careless driving and causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs should include causing serious injury.”

Please let us know if this is an issue you’ve been affected by. What are your views on the
new offence?  Leave your comments and thoughts below.


Andrew Kirkley
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  • 14th October 2011

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