Prison call for death-causing drivers

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Nine in 10 people in Wigan want motorists who kill while under the influence of drink and drugs charged with manslaughter.

A study to mark the launch of campaign charity Brake’s new Roads to Justice crusade shows there is huge support for strengthening both the charges and jail terms faced by criminal drivers.

Manslaughter can carry a life sentence.

At present people can either be charged with causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs.

Sentences for those charges range between 26 weeks and 14 years, though sentences at the higher end of the range are rarely handed out.

Earlier this year drink-driver Stuart Rudd was jailed for eight and a half years for causing 19-year-old Isobelle Woodall’s death by dangerous driving in a head-on smash in Wigan’s Central Park Way.

The study also reveals most people back much tougher sentences for all criminal drivers who kill.

Just over two thirds (68 per cent) of those questioned think those convicted should be jailed for at least 10 years.

More than half of people asked said the sentence for killing someone in a crash should be at least 15 years and just over a quarter (25.2 per cent) think drivers that kill should be jailed for life.

At present almost half of drivers convicted of killing are not jailed at all. The average prison sentence for a driver who has killed someone is under four years.

Brake is now calling on the government to immediately review guidelines for both charging and sentencing criminal drivers.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “There are too many families who suffer the double trauma of losing a loved one in a sudden and violent way, and then witness the judicial system turning its back on them.

“That’s why we’re launching our Roads to Justice campaign, which calls on government to get tough on criminal drivers who kill or seriously injure others.

“We believe the public are behind us, judging from our survey results.

“People we work with tell us they are left feeling betrayed by the use of inappropriately-termed charges and lenient sentences.

“Drivers who kill while taking illegal risks are too often labelled ‘careless’ in the eyes of the law, and then given insultingly low sentences when their actions can only be described as dangerous and destructive.”