Lenient sentences for dangerous drivers finds IAM

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The average sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is just four years – 62 per cent shorter than for manslaughter, according to road safety charity the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

Magistrates are handing out fines for drink driving that are less than five per cent of the maximum amount possible, giving the message that drink driving only warrants a slap on the wrist.

The average sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is just four years – 62 per cent shorter than for manslaughter, according to road safety charity the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists).

The average sentence length of manslaughter is 6.6 years. Those sentenced to prison for causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving are given an average sentence of 1.3 years. Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs has an average sentence of 4.35 years.

Fifty-three per cent of those convicted of causing death or bodily harm through driving offences were sentenced to immediate custody (260 people) in 20112. This has dropped from the 83 per cent sentenced to immediate custody in 2001.

Fines for drink driving are also lower in real terms than they were 10 years ago. In 2001 the average fine for drink driving was £203 – the average £240 fine in 2011 was equivalent to just £178 in 2001 prices – a 12.3 per cent decrease3.

The average fine for careless driving is £138, 27 per cent less in real terms than it was in 2001. Dangerous driving is the only area with tougher fines. The average fine is £518 – 30 per cent more in real terms than in 2001.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: “We recently discovered that the number of prosecutions for motoring offences have fallen. Now it is clear that drivers are also receiving short sentences for some of the most serious driving offences.

“Magistrates are handing out fines for drink driving that are less than five per cent of the maximum amount possible, giving the message that drink driving only warrants a slap on the wrist. Only sentences that reflect the seriousness of the crime will act as a proper deterrent.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:        
1.    These figures are the result of a freedom of information request made by the IAM to the Ministry of Justice, figures received July 2012.
2.    Ministry of Justice, ‘Criminal Justice Statistics 2011’ Motoring tables published July 2012 http://www.justice.gov.uk/statistics/criminal-justice/criminal-justice-statistics
3.    As above
4.    The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.

ENDS ALL
Media contacts:
IAM Press Office – 020 8996 9777
press.office (at) iam (dot) org (dot) uk
ISDN broadcast lines available
iam.org.uk

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Caroline Holmes - Communications officer
IAM
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