Stuart Dobbins, Romero Insurance Brokers’ Technical Claims Director, provides clarity on the new motoring offences guidelines set to affect drivers July 1st.
"Details of a new range of motoring regulations have recently been released. Not only will these changes have a significant impact on claims and liability, but also upon the everyday road user.
New regulations will modify and augment the existing guidelines in order to provide greater clarity to prosecutors and defendants about various potential sentences available to the judiciary in relation to serious motor incidents. These regulations will come into effect from the 1st July, and will seek to bring motoring offences in line with regulatory guidelines on casualty and liability cases.
What motoring offences have changed as of July 1st?
The below offences have seen revisions applied to their sentencing guidelines:
- Causing death by dangerous driving
- Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
- Causing death by careless driving
- Causing death by driving whilst disqualified
- Causing death by driving whilst unlicensed or uninsured
- Dangerous driving
Each of these revisions have established new maximum sentences.
Crucially, motorists may be sentenced to life imprisonment if they cause another’s death by careless driving, dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified or driving whilst unlicensed or uninsured.
‘Careless driving’ has previously been a much lesser offence; careless driving can involve something as minor as a breach of the Highway Code. However the life imprisonment tariff now applies if a death results from a ‘lesser’ breach of the expected standard for a competent road user.
What new guidelines on motoring offences have been established as of July 1st?
In addition to the above, certain offences will now have their own separate guidelines for sentencing:
- Causing serious injury by dangerous driving
- Causing serious injury by driving whilst disqualified
- Causing serious injury by careless driving (a new offence created by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022)
- Causing injury by wanton or furious driving
- Driving or attempting to drive with a specified drug above the speed limit
- Being in charge of a motor vehicle with a specified drug above the specified limit
The offence of “wanton or furious driving” seems to be an acknowledgment of incidents wherein, for example, a cyclist causes death or injury through aggressive behaviour. However this offence will also apply if the incident does not take place on a road or a public place.
It should also be noted that ‘serious injury’ does not necessarily mean ‘life-threatening’ – in fact, ‘serious injury’ is actually considered to be any physical event that amounts to grievous bodily harm. As such a ‘mere’ broken bone will often be considered to be a serious injury – however the new guidelines begin with a 6 month custodial sentence for this type of offence, moving up to 5 years depending on the level of culpability and aggravating factors.
What are the implications of the new driving legislation as of July 1st?
The direct consequence of the above measures will be to ensure that all parties to a prosecution are aware of the potential sentencing parameters based on the type of offence and the level of culpability or mitigation that may apply. However it is also expected that there will be a marked increase in defence costs and associated fees in dealing with these serious cases. We expect Forensic Collision Consultants and other experts to be more regularly engaged by legal teams with a view to moving a case into a lower ‘offence category’.
Finally, the new sentencing guidelines will throw an even sharper focus on a business’s fleet management operation should an incident occur. We would therefore stress the need for companies to ensure that they are keeping good, up to date records (and therefore able to provide evidence) of:
- Driver safety training / refresher training
- Driving licence checks (including category checks)
- Insurance checks (including checking that the cover is appropriate for the tasks being carried out)
- Vehicle safety checks (where the company provides the vehicle)
- MOT checks
- Driver handbook/policy which provides details of safe working practices
- Health checks
- Speed limiters (where appropriate)
- Driver CPC training (where appropriate)
We recommend business check they have this information available and that it is up to date. This will be invaluable for brokers leading up to a claim.”
Stuart has created a document which easily outlines the changes as of July 1st.
At Romero Insurance Brokers, our input at the earliest stages of any insurance claim will be crucial. The involvement of insurers, solicitors and other appropriate specialists will enable any defendant to receive immediate high-level case management and legal representation. This will be essential in mitigating the potential consequences of a serious incident.
To protect yourself, your drivers and your business, contact Romero Insurance Brokers. Our award-winning claims team have over 25 years experience, with an particularly excellent record for fleet and motor disputes.
See our motor claims page for more information on our app and how easy it is to notify us of a motor incident and make a motor claim.