Motoring Offences Sentencing Guidelines Consultation

Closes 29 Sep 2022

Opened 7 Jul 2022

Overview

What is the Sentencing Council?

The Sentencing Council is the independent body responsible for developing sentencing guidelines which courts in England and Wales must follow when passing a sentence. The Council consults on proposed guidelines before they come into force and makes changes to the guidelines as a result of consultations.

Why motoring offences?

The existing sentencing guidelines for motoring offences were published in 2008 by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, the Sentencing Council’s predecessor body. As such, they do not follow the current format of guideline that is familiar to the courts and are in any case due for review.

The existing guidelines cover the offences of causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs, causing death by careless driving, causing death by driving whilst disqualified, unlicensed or uninsured, and dangerous driving.

Following Government consultation in 2016, the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has raised the maximum penalties for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years’ custody to life imprisonment. The maximum penalty for causing death by driving whilst disqualified was raised from 2 years to 10 years’ imprisonment in 2015. These changes in maximum penalties should be reflected in revised guidelines.

There are also new offences which have been created since the current guidelines were published. These include causing serious injury by dangerous driving, driving or being in charge of a motor vehicle with a concentration of a specified controlled drug above a specified limit, causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified, and most recently under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 the offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

The Council believes that sentencing guidelines would be helpful for these newer offences, and also for the offence of causing injury by wanton and furious driving which may be used to prosecute cyclists who have caused death or injury.

What is the Council consulting about?

The Council has produced this consultation paper in order to seek views from as many people as possible interested in the sentencing of motoring offences.

However, it is important to clarify that the Council is consulting on the sentencing guidelines for these offences and not the legislation upon which such offences are based. The relevant legislation is a matter for Parliament and is, therefore, outside the scope of this exercise.

Through this consultation process, the Council is seeking views on:

  • the principal factors that make any of the offences included within the draft guidelines more or less serious;
  • the additional factors that should influence the sentence;
  • the types and lengths of sentence that should be passed;
  • information to include on guidance on how to approach disqualification;
  • whether there are any issues relating to disparity of sentencing and/or broader matters relating to equality and diversity that the guidelines could and should address; and
  • anything else you think should be considered.

We would like to hear from anyone who uses sentencing guidelines in their work or who has an interest in sentencing. We would also like to hear from individuals and organisations representing anyone who could be affected by the proposals including:

  • victims and their families;
  • defendants and their families;
  • those under probation supervision or youth offending teams/supervision;
  • those with protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

How to give your views

In the following sections the proposed guidelines are outlined in detail section by section and you will be asked to give your views.

The consultation paper is organised first by covering those offences related to the standard of driving (i.e. dangerous, careless, or wanton or furious driving). Then the paper covers those offences causing death or injury which relate to whether an offender is disqualified from driving, unlicensed or uninsured. Proposed guidelines for drug-driving offences follow, and finally there is a section on draft guidance on disqualification.

Various elements are, by design, common to many guidelines. For example, culpability factors will be shared across all dangerous driving guidelines, and the way guidelines differentiate levels of harm will be common to all offences where serious harm has been caused. Questions which are asked for one guideline may therefore be common across several guidelines, and this is made clear where this is the case.

You can give your views either by email to consultation@sentencingcouncil.gov.uk or by using the online questionnaire.

Age applicability

When issued as definitive guidelines these will only apply to offenders aged 18 and older. General principles to be considered in the sentencing of children and young people are in the Council’s definitive guideline, a link to which is below:

Sentencing Children and Young People – Sentencing (sentencingcouncil.org.uk)

What else is happening as part of the consultation process?

This is a three month public consultation. During the consultation period, the Council will host a number of exercises to test the draft amendments and new guideline and consider whether any changes are needed. Once the consultation exercise is over and the results considered, a final guideline will be published and used by all courts.

Alongside this consultation paper, the Council has produced an online questionnaire.  The Council has also produced a resource assessment for the guideline, along with a statistical bulletin and data tables showing current sentencing practice for these offences. The online questionnaire, resource assessment, statistical bulletin and data tables can be found on the Sentencing Council’s website: www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk

 

 

Audiences

  • Citizens
  • Charities
  • Voluntary organisations
  • Government departments
  • Legal professionals
  • Judiciary
  • Police
  • Prosecutors
  • Offenders
  • Victims
  • Court & Tribunal staff
  • Legal professional bodies
  • Public sector
  • VCSE/Charity/Mutual
  • Think tanks
  • Academics

Interests

  • Courts
  • Criminal justice
  • Law
  • Equality & diversity
  • Rehabilitation
  • UK Law
  • Judiciary