Motoring offences: proposed sentencing guidelines published

There’s been a number of changes to sentencing guidelines for those convicted of motoring offences in England and Wales, and today we’re going to give you an overview of some other proposed changes. For the time being, the changes are under a 3 month consultation, so there’s a chance these could be tweaked again in the coming months.

The sentencing council are looking to put more deterrents in place to rapidly drop the number of deaths and serious injuries caused by dangerous driving, so let’s take a look at what some of those changes are and what they mean for drivers across the country.

Changes to existing guidelines

In total, there are twelve changes coming into play. Six of those changes are updates to existing guidelines, and they include amendments made to maximum sentences given for causing death by dangerous driving as well as causing death by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

To give you an idea of specific changes, let’s take the two offences mentioned above as an example. Previously, the maximum sentence for these two offences were 14 years. They’ve now been increased to a maximum of life imprisonment through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. On top of that, the revised sentencing means if convicted of these offences, you could also spend up to 18 years in custody.

New motoring offence guidelines

The sentencing council is also introducing new guidelines to go alongside the existing ones. Causing serious injury by dangerous driving is one such guideline, and if convicted is now punishable by up to 5 years in custody.

On a similar note, causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified has seen a change in sentencing, with the current consultation stating offenders could spend up to four years in custody. As we mentioned before, these are a consultation so they could be changed again in the future – it largely boils down to the overall feel the authorities have after getting feedback from various entities within the legal world.

Another new guideline being put in place (at least for the time being) is causing injury by wanton or furious driving. This means that if a motorist causes injury or death off-road – like in a field, dirt track or other private land – the new sentencing guidelines include up to 2 years in custody. This category also covers cyclists’ causing death or injury at any location, with that offence also being punishable by up to 2 years in custody.

The aim of the new guidelines

In one word: consistency. Far too often in the past there’s been too many ‘grey areas’ when it comes to punishment and sentencing for motoring offences. The idea behind the new guidelines is to give prosecutors, and the legal system in general, a set of guidelines that allows the courts to remain consistent with their sentencing.

It’s the first time we’ve seen a consistent set of rules that will dictate sentencing, and that’s one of the main reasons the changes are being looked at so closely. Whether it’s being under the influence of drugs or alcohol, briefly checking your phone or other devices, or not driving responsibly given the weather conditions, we now have a set structure to work with. This keeps things constant, and it means that sentencing across the board will be a lot more consistent.

Final thoughts

Hopefully, you’ve been able to see what sort of changes are going to be implemented, and have got an understanding of why the sentencing council have decided to test these new rulings. If you’d like more detail about the proposals and what they could mean, the sentencing council have explained everything in detail here.

As always, if you have any questions about the consultation, or anything legal at all, feel free to reach out to us on our website. We’ll see you on the next one!