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Convicted drivers to work with victims
Sunday Times (London)
December 3, 2000
Motorists found guilty of drink-driving or dangerous speeding are likely to be made to work with the victims of road accidents, writes Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas.
A review of motoring offences to be unveiled later this month will recommend tougher sentences for offences in which other road users have been killed or injured. Drivers stopped for excessive speeding, being over the legal alcohol limit or dangerous or careless driving will be given community service orders requiring them to work with people whose lives have been wrecked by dangerous driving.
Edmund King, of the RAC Foundation, said: "It takes an accident for some young drivers to realise the risks of speeding and we can't afford to let every foolish driver have an accident to learn that lesson.
"Anything that makes people think twice about the consequences of dangerous driving should be welcomed."
The community service orders will make convicted drivers meet motorists who have been hurt in crashes, or pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars. Jobs are likely to range from working in hospitals to caring for disabled people.
Home Office officials considered making convicted drivers help police to clear up at the scenes of road accidents, but this was thought to be impractical.
Ministers are to propose the community service orders after a review of driving laws by the Home Office and the Lord Chancellor's Department. A consultation paper is due to be published later this month.
The review is also expected to call for tougher prison sentences for motorists who kill. A driver convicted of causing death by dangerous driving can be jailed for up to 10 years, but offenders are often given short sentences.
Road safety campaigners have been angered when motorists who have killed pedestrians are charged only with careless driving. The consultation paper will include proposals to change the law so that all motorists who kill can be severely punished.
Maximum sentences will also be reviewed; the longest sentence for dangerous driving is 10 years, compared with 14 years for burglary.
Bigger fines for speeding are also expected, and all drivers who are banned may be required to take another driving test. The consequences of any bad driving will be taken into account when sentencing offenders.
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