Driving offences and penalties relating to causing death or serious injury

Closed 1 Feb 2017

Opened 5 Dec 2016

Results updated 20 Oct 2017

The consultation sought views on driving offences and penalties that cause death and serious injury. Over 9,000 responses were received and overall showed considerable support for the proposals which included:

  • increasing the maximum penalty for the offences of causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life
  • creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving

Having considered the responses to the consultation, we have decided to proceed with the proposals to increase the maximum penalties for the 2 causing death offences and create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving as soon as parliamentary time allows.

The plans build on the government’s pledge to consider sentencing powers available to the courts for the most serious driving offences.




The government recognises that there is public concern about sentencing for offenders who kill or seriously injure others on the road and is committed to making sure that the legislative framework that the courts operate within reflects the seriousness of offending and the culpability of the offender.

Most of the time, the vast majority of drivers drive well.  However, sometimes even an error of judgment or loss of attention can have devastating consequences. As a general principle, the criminal law needs to take into account not only the harm caused, but also the level of blame of the offender, and sentences must be a matter for the judge to determine in individual cases, based on the full facts of the case and of the offender before them. 

The government is committed to ensuring that deaths or serious injuries on the road continue to fall, and that where they are the result of criminal behaviour, the right tools are available to deliver justice.

Your views are welcome on the following issues which are addressed in this consultation:

  • The distinction between 'careless' and 'dangerous' driving
  • A perceived 'gap in the law' for causing serious injury by careless driving
  • Maximum penalties for causing death
  • Driving disqualifications


  • Citizens
  • Government departments
  • Legal professionals
  • Police
  • Prosecutors


  • Criminal justice
  • Law