Motorists who kill while being avoidably distracted at the wheel will face prison under new careless driving laws, which come into force on August 18.
The new offences will, for the first time, allow courts to imprison drivers who cause a death by not paying due care to the road, or to other road users.
They are designed to plug the gap in current legislation and prevent drivers who kill from walking away from court with just a fine.
Avoidable distractions that courts will consider when sentencing motorists who have killed include:
• using a mobile phone (calling or texting)
• drinking and eating
• applying make-up
• anything else which takes their attention away from the road and that a court judges to have been an avoidable distraction
The new laws will also penalise uninsured, disqualified or unlicensed drivers who kill.
The new offences will carry custodial sentences of:
• up to five years for causing death by careless driving
• up to two years for causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured
Previously, the maximum sentence for those convicted of causing death by careless, uninsured or unlicensed driving was a maximum 5000 fine and penalty licence points.