I'm interested in…

  • Strategy & Procedure
  • Motor
  • Fraud
  • Disease
  • Catastrophic Injury
  • Commercial Insurance
  • Costs
  • Liability
  • Local Authority
  • Professional Indemnity
  • Scotland

Motor prosecution: a review of sentencing guidelines.

Causing Death by Careless Driving and Causing Death or Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving

The Department of Transport has now confirmed that in early 2014 the Sentencing Council will undertake a review of the sentencing guidelines for the offences of Causing Death by Careless Driving and Causing Death or Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving. DWF’s Motor Prosecution Unit comment on the forthcoming review.

Review of Sentencing Guidelines

In April 2013 the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group published its ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry which made 18 key recommendations. One of the recommendations was that the enforcement of road traffic law, including speed limits, should be tightened and that driving offences, especially those resulting in death or injury, are should be treated sufficiently seriously by police, prosecutors and judges.

The Department for Transport have now responded to this recommendation and have confirmed that in early 2014 the Sentencing Council will undertake a review of the sentencing guidelines for the offences of Causing Death by Careless Driving and Causing Death or Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving.

The director of legal affairs for the British Cycling body, in a comment to the Times on 28 August 2013, said “We’ve been asking the Government for a review of the sentencing guidelines so I’m glad to see that confirmed, though it should form part of a comprehensive review of the criminal justice process, which all too often fails people on bikes by not prosecuting or by returning sentences which don’t reflect the seriousness of the crime.”

The Department for Transport’s response to the ‘Get Britain Cycling’ inquiry also notes that the Department for Transport hosts a Justice Sub-Group of its Cycle Stakeholder Forum. The Sub-Group includes representatives of the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, the Sentencing Council, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Metropolitan Police, and a number of cycling representatives. The Justice Sub-Group is commissioning research to investigate the link between police reported road traffic incidents where cyclists or pedestrians are killed or seriously injured and prosecutions to better understand how the justice system works for these road users.

As the Sentencing Guidelines already permit the Court to consider increasing sentence where there is the aggravating feature of injury or death caused to a vulnerable road user (e.g. cyclist, motorcyclist, pedestrian and horse rider), any review is likely to lead to the creation of a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving rather than an increase to the current tariffs in place for existing offences. As vulnerable road users are more likely to be seriously injured the creation of these new offences will in effect give rise to lengthier penalties being imposed where there has been a collision with a cyclist. More discussion on this topic will follow when the Sentencing Council carries out its review.

Department for Transport's (DfT) response

Get Britain Cycling inquiry

DWF's specialist Motor Prosecutions Unit is here to help on any aspect relating to motor prosecutions and road traffic law. For further information please contact Lee Foulser or Nina Lewis on the MPU dedicated 24 hour advice line 0161 838 0161

By Lee Foulser

Share your views

Please complete your details below to share your views. All comments are moderated and only your name and comment will be visible.

Your Comment

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Top