On Sunday 4 December, it was announced that the government has launched a consultation on proposals to increase penalties for drivers who kill while driving dangerously, carelessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The new proposals mean criminal drivers could face the same sentences as those charged with manslaughter. In the latest Brake blog, Ceinwen Briddon writes about how her family felt let down by the legal system after her daughter’s killer, who was well over the drink-drive limit when he crashed into and killed Miriam Briddon, was only sentenced to five years in jail.
We started this petition in memory of Miriam, our beautiful and happy 21 year old daughter and sister, who had her whole life ahead of her.
Miriam left our family home on Saturday evening the 29th of March, 2014 and she never returned. On that evening, Miriam was killed instantly in a head on collision. She was killed by a drink-driver. He was well over the drink-drive limit and travelling at speed when he killed Miriam. He lost control of his car and he entered into her path on the opposite lane whilst attempting to negotiate a left hand bend. He collided heavily with Miriam’s car which was travelling in the opposite direction. Police, paramedics and fire crews rushed to the scene but Miriam had already died.
Miriam was one of four sisters as well as being an identical twin. Miriam had made plans for the future. She had worked extremely hard in University and was about to settle down with her boyfriend.
Beyond the heartache, grief and anger we feel towards the driver, we also feel betrayed and frustrated by the legal system of this country. After a very lengthy investigation and many court appearances, 18 months later, he finally pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five-and-a-half-years. He was also served with a five year ban from driving. He later appealed the length of sentence and it was reduced to five years. But he will only serve two-and-a-half-years in jail.
We will never have justice for Miriam. The present sentencing guidelines and the law is an insult to her life and a disgrace to us left behind to pick up the pieces. Changes in the law will not make any difference at all to the sentence given to Miriam’s killer, but sentencing guidelines have to change for the sake of others.
When an innocent life is taken, the punishment should reflect the seriousness of the crime.
Miriam’s killer was charged with ‘Careless driving under the influence of alcohol’. Causing death by drink-driving is a very serious crime and drink-driving is no accident. It is a decision made. If you are in charge of your vehicle after drinking then you are a dangerous driver and killing whilst drink-driving should mean an automatic manslaughter charge. A charge of 'careless driving' should not even be considered!
The government need to introduce tougher laws and there has to be a stronger deterrent for offenders. Inadequate sentences fail to deter offenders and fail to give victims and families the justice they deserve. With tougher sentences offenders would think twice about getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
We are calling on the government to review and change the guidelines that determine sentencing of criminal drivers that kill.
We named the petition ‘A Moment for Miriam’ as we were asking people to take a moment of their time to read about Miriam and to sign our petition. The amount of signatures we received in a just two months was phenomenal. We are truly amazed at how quickly we crossed the 100,000 mark and we are very grateful to everyone that has signed and shared our campaign.
As we've read comments, we've realised with great sadness how many people supporting us have also lost loved ones to criminal drivers, and also how many people are victims with life changing injuries. So many young and innocent people taken cruelly through no fault of their own, but at the hands of selfish drivers.
An incredible 109,500 have signed and are supporting us with our campaign.
As 'A Moment for Miriam' has reached every part of the UK, we have proof of how strong people feel about the need to change current sentencing laws.
People have been so kind with their support and heartfelt messages throughout our petition. We would not have headed to Downing Street without the signatures received.
What we would like to see happen :
- The introduction of tougher laws and longer sentences given to offenders. (Inadequate sentences fail to deter offenders and fail to give victims and families the justice they deserve).
- Guideline sentences should start at 10 years upwards. (The whole sentence must be served in full - not halved).
- A charge of 'careless driving' should never be given. Death by drink-driving is no accident, it is a decision made. If you are in charge of your vehicle after drinking then you are automatically a dangerous driver and killing whilst drink-driving should mean an automatic manslaughter charge.
Can you help support families like the Briddon's who have been devastated by the loss of a loved one and have yet to see justice for their death? Please support our Roads to Justice campaign, calling for stronger sentencing for criminal drivers who kill and severely injure innocent people.