Careless drivers who kill to avoid jail

* New guidelines released * Careless drivers will get community orders * Dangerous drivers will still be imprisoned...

Author Avatar
Jim Holder
10 January 2008

Careless drivers who kill to avoid jail

Drivers who kill could escape a jail sentence under new sentencing guidelines.

Last month, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) published guidelines recommending that motorists caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving could be jailed for two years.

However, in response, the Sentencing Guidelines Council has suggested that people whose driving is considered 'careless' rather than 'dangerous' should be spared prison.

As a result, drivers who were 'unavoidably distracted' would not be imprisoned, but serve a community service order.

Only those found to have been 'dangerously distracted' by a mobile phone, any other electronic device, tuning the stereoor lighting a cigarette would be jailed.

The CPS has recommended that people who are proven to kill by dangerous driving receive a minimum seven-year jail sentence.

It adds that these factors, combined with failing to stop at an accident or a bad driving record, should mean a sentence of up to 14 years.

Mobile phone use has come under particular scrutiny, with the CPS saying: 'Reading or composing text messages will be a gross "avoidable distraction" likely to result in an offence being in the highest level of seriousness.'

In addition, drivers who cause death by undertaking, tailgating, running a red light or pulling out of side turnings into the path of other vehicles would not be jailed if they can prove their actions were careless rather than dangerous.