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This briefing provides information and analysis in relation to Part 5 of the Bill: Road Traffic. You can find the Library’s detailed analysis of other parts of the Bill on the Library’s website.

Road traffic offences: Clauses 64 to 66

The Road Traffic Act 1988 and Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 together provide for the offences of dangerous and careless driving, and related sentences. In 2016, the Government consulted on driving offences and penalties related to causing death or serious injury.

The Consultation response, published in 2017, said the Government would bring forward proposals to increase the maximum penalties for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs. Sentences would increase from 14 years to life imprisonment. It also said it would create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

Nearly three years later the Government’s Sentencing White Paper recommitted the Government to bringing forward legislation for these proposals. Clauses 64-66 and Schedule 7 would give effect to those commitments by:

  • increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving from 14 years’ to life imprisonment;
  • increasing the maximum penalty for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years’ to life imprisonment; and
  • creating a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving.

Courses offered as an alternative to prosecution for low-level road traffic offences: Clause 67

Persons who commit certain low-level road traffic offences (for example, being caught speeding by a speed camera, driving without due care and attention, traffic light offences or not wearing a seat belt) may be offered a place on a course in lieu of prosecution. Clause 67 would provide a statutory basis for a charging regime for such courses.

Removal of abandoned vehicles: Clause 68

The police (and in certain circumstances the local authority) are empowered to remove vehicles that are illegally, dangerously or obstructively parked, or broken down or abandoned. Clause 68 would provide a statutory legal basis to charge for vehicle recovery, storage and disposal fees, since this power was “inadvertently removed due to a drafting error” in amendments made to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Surrendering of driving licences: Clauses 69-74

Currently, where a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) has been issued the driver must surrender their licence to the relevant authority. Since the abolishment of the paper counterpart licence in 2015, there is now no need for a driving licence to be produced for an endorsement to be recorded against a driver’s driving record. Clauses 69 to 74 would remove the redundant requirement for a physical driving licence to be produced where a FPN has been issued and strengthen the rules for the surrender of driving licences where a driver faces disqualification.

Fixed Penalty Notices in Scotland: Clause 75

Police in England and Wales can issue on-the-spot fines for certain moving traffic offences. Clause 75 extends this power to police in Scotland.


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