Driving Offences – New Sentencing Guidelines
The Sentencing Council has published 12 new and revised sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of motoring offences in England and Wales.
The new and revised guidelines, which apply to adults only, will come into effect on 1 July 2023.
The changes include updated versions of six current guidelines that were 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 while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
They have also published five new guidelines for offences created since the current guidelines were published. They include causing serious injury by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by driving while disqualified.
A new guideline for 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 has also been published.
- 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
- dangerous driving
- causing serious injury by dangerous driving
- causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified
- causing serious injury by careless driving
- 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
What will be the impact of these changes on actual sentences imposed?
Overall, the guidelines are anticipated to increase sentences for several offences, where sentence levels have been driven either by the new guidelines reflecting the changes to legislation introduced under the PCSC Act 2022, for sections 1 and 3A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, or by the knock-on effect this has had on the guidelines for other related motoring offences.
It is estimated that the definitive guidelines, in reflecting the increase in statutory maximum penalties, may result in a requirement for up to around 470 prison places, comprised of around 300 additional prison places for causing death by dangerous driving, around 10 additional prison places for causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, around 130 additional prison places for causing serious injury by dangerous driving, around 20 additional prison places for causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving, and fewer than 5 additional prison places for dangerous driving.
For the other offences covered by the definitive guidelines, it is difficult to estimate the impact of the guidelines, either due to low volumes or due to a lack of data available on how current cases would be categorised under the new guideline. However, it is anticipated that for these offences the new guidelines will improve consistency of sentencing for these offences, but not lead to any notable changes in sentencing severity.
How can we help?
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