MP calls for more manslaughter charges in cases of dangerous driving

Gareth Johnson MP said in Parliament that the Crown Prosecution Service should consider charging reckless drivers with manslaughter, rather than death by dangerous driving.

(Image credit: Claire Collins)

Conservative MP Gareth Johnson (Dartford) has called for more manslaughter charges in cases where a person dies as a result of dangerous driving.

Speaking in a debate on sentencing for dangerous driving offences, Mr Johnson said he would push for the maximum sentence for the offence to be life imprisonment, rather than the current 14 years for death by dangerous driving.

“If a person causes someone’s death by behaving in a grossly negligent or reckless manner anywhere else in society, they are charged with manslaughter,” he said.

“If that happens on the road, however, they are not; they are charged with death by dangerous driving. There is no legal reason why that should be. If a person is convicted of manslaughter, that gives the sentencing court far more powers, and a maximum possible sentence of life, rather than 14 years.”

In reply, Mike Penning, Minister for policing, criminal justice and victims, admitted that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) were often reluctant to charge a driver with manslaughter due to the issue of intent.

“I am not a lawyer—there are many in the House—but the problem with the law as it stands is the issue of intent. It is a question of whether the driver intended to go and do what they did,” he said. “That is why the CPS tends to hold back from prosecuting for murder or manslaughter. It is entitled to do that, however; that is within the regulations.”

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.