Nine in 10 people want criminal drivers who kill charged with manslaughter

PRESS CALL: 1600 hrs 11 July Wellington Arch, Hyde Park, London

• 91% of people think drivers on drink or drugs who kill should be charged with manslaughter
• 66% of people believe drivers who kill should be jailed for a minimum of 10 years
• 84% of people think drivers who kill while breaking laws should be charged with dangerous and not careless driving

A survey to mark the launch of Brake’s new “ROADS TO JUSTICE” campaign shows there is huge support for strengthening both the charges and sentences faced by criminal drivers.

91% of people questioned agreed that if someone causes a fatal crash when they get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs, they should be charged with manslaughter. That carries a possible 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.

The survey also reveals most people back much tougher sentences for all criminal killer drivers. Two thirds of people (66%) questioned think those convicted should be jailed for at least 10 years. About half of people asked said the sentence for killing someone in a crash should be at least 15 years and one in five (19.8%) think drivers who 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 less than four years.

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

This new campaign is being backed by a number of recently bereaved families who feel they have not had justice for their loved ones. Dawn and Ian Brown-Lartey lost their son, 25 year old Joseph when a speeding driver ran a red light at more than 80 miles an hour. Today for the very first time, the car Joseph was driving, which was cut in two by the collision, is being put on public display (with support and help from Greater Manchester Police) and brought to the House of Commons.

Joseph’s parents, Ian and Dawn Brown-Lartey, said: “We will never get over the loss of our beautiful son Joseph, who had his whole life ahead of him. Hearing that his killer will serve half of a six-year sentence was a further slap in the face to us and our family. The law needs to change so that sentences for causing death by dangerous driving reflect the crime. We can’t bring Joseph back, but what we can do is campaign in his name to stop other families going through what we are. Joseph’s car was split in two. The emergency services said it was the worst road crash they had ever seen. We want people to see that devastation first hand in the hope of educating young drivers but also to hit home with the government the importance of our campaign.”

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “There are too many families, like the Brown-Lartey’s, 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.”

Brake's survey also revealed overwhelming support for never using charges that describe driving as "careless" in cases where bad driving has resulted in death or injury. 84% of people questioned agreed a charge of dangerous driving should always be brought.
In 2014 176 people were charged with “causing death by dangerous driving” and 205 were charged with “causing death by careless driving”. Brake would argue that all careless driving is dangerous, as if you are not giving your full attention to the road and the task, you are more likely to crash and that crash could be fatal.

Notes to Editors:

For more details contact Alice Bailey at Brake 01484 550063 / 07398 760 832

PRESS CALL Monday July 11th 2016

13.30 - 14.30 Parliament Square, Joseph Brown-Lartey’s car will be driven past Westminster parliament.

15.00 Wellington Arch, Apsley Way, Hyde Park, London, W1J 7JZ at Metropolitan Police Road Safety event
Interview opportunities with the Brown-Lartey’s, Brake and other bereaved families backing the campaign

16.00 Wellington Arch
Full press call with car, family members and supporting MPs

Read more about Joseph Brown-Lartey’s case here:

Full survey results

[Survey of 1,000 adults in the UK]

Q.1 If a driver who has broken the law kills someone, should they be charged with

Careless driving 7%
Dangerous driving 84%
Don’t know 9%

Q.2 Should a driver who gets behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs and then kills someone be charged with manslaughter?

Yes 91%
No 9%

Q.3 What sentence should a driver receive for killing someone whilst driving?

A fine 2.9%
0 – 4 years 11%
5 – 9 years 19.7%
10 – 14 years 18%
15 years + 28.6%
Life imprisonment 19.8%

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Follow Brake on Twitter, Facebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

[1] Causing death by driving: Definitive guideline, Sentencing Guidelines Council, 2008

[2] Criminal justice system statistics quarterly: December 2014, Ministry of Justice, 2015

[3] Criminal justice system statistics: motoring pivot table analytical tool for England and Wales, Ministry of Justice, 2015

[4] Criminal justice system statistics quarterly: December 2014, Ministry of Justice, 2015

Tags: Drink-Drive research government road deaths drug-drive