Tougher sentences for death drivers

* New sentencing guidelines for judges * Seven years in prison for drivers who kill * Mix of factors could lead to 14 years in jail...

Tougher sentences for death drivers

Drivers who cause death by dangerous driving could now face up to seven years in jail.

That's one of the new guidelines issued to judges and magistrates after a consultation by the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

The council said that motorists involved in the most serious cases of death by dangerous driving - for example, where persistent bad driving, or drink or drugs are involved - should go to jail for seven years.

Drivers should also expect a seven-year prison sentence if they have caused death while reading or writing text messages on a mobile phone.

However, where death was caused by 'momentary inattention' where there were no aggravating factors, drivers should receive a community sentence, which could include a curfew.

What the new guidance covers
The new guidance covers the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The guidelines also apply to the offences of death by careless driving and death by unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers.

These offences are part of the Road Safety Act 2006, which is yet to come into force. The offences are being introduced in England, Wales and Scotland, but the council's recommendations apply only to courts in England and Wales.

More recommendations
As well as the guidance above, the council also recommended that anyone causing death by dangerous driving where there are a number of serious factors, should expect a sentence approaching the maximum of 14 years.

This should apply particularly if there are aggravating circumstances, such as failing to stop or a very bad driving record.

It also said that in all cases where prison was not appropriate, community sentences should be applied instead of fines.