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Clear majority support tougher sentences in road death cases

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An overwhelming majority of people who took part in a recent survey believe that drivers who cause a fatal crash while under the influence of drink or drugs should face manslaughter charges, a new survey suggests.

Nine out of ten of those who were questioned as part of research commissioned by the road safety charity Brake have backed a tougher line.

Brake conducted the poll as part of efforts to put pressure on ministers to review the current guidelines for charging and passing sentence against motorists whose actions have led to someone’s death.

At present, drivers who cause a fatality would usually face charges of causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving.

These offences can carry jail sentences of between 26 weeks and 14 years, but Brake has said that prison terms tend to be at the lower end of sentencing guidelines.

The survey of 1,000 adults found that two thirds believe that those who cause a fatal crash should be handed a custodial sentence of at least ten years.

Brake has said that changing the law, so that drivers can face manslaughter charges, would give the courts greater powers to impose more severe punishments.

Gary Rae, Brake’s director of campaigns, said: “People are left feeling betrayed by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and lenient sentences.

“Drivers who kill while taking illegal risks are too often labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and then given insultingly low sentences when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive.”

If you are facing a charge for an offence committed while driving, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure the best possible representation. For further details about how Lester Morrill’s road traffic team can help you, please contact us.