Closed petition Kristian Johnson’s Law. Life sentences for Death by Careless & Dangerous Driving

Kristian Johnson was killed by a drink driver who was more than twice the legal limit. His killer was sentenced to 3 years for Causing Death by Careless Driving and is eligible for release from prison in 18 months. We want appropriate justice. Appropriate justice is a life sentence for these crimes.

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Kristian's killer was convicted of causing death by 'Careless Driving' rather than 'Dangerous Driving' - a crime which carries a maximum sentence of just 5 years. 18 months in prison is not justice for killing someone and is unlikely to deter future drink-driving. The sentence does not fit the crime. The impact to the lives of the victim’s family is incomprehensible and a sentence of 18 months further damages the family. Kristian was 24, of good health and should have had a full life ahead of him. Instead it was cut tragically short.

We are asking the Government to increase the maximum penalty to life sentences for death by careless driving as they promised in October 2017 and those convicted should serve a minimum of 15 years.

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Government responded

This response was given on 15 February 2021

Driving offences can have devastating consequences and the government is acting to toughen penalties for several driving-related offences. Sentencing in individual cases is a matter for the courts.

Read the response in full

We were very sorry to read of the tragic death of Kristian Johnson; our sympathies are with his family and friends.

No sentence can make up for the loss of a loved one and whilst many deaths and injuries are the result of a tragic accident, too many of these incidents involve criminal behaviour. Every avoidable death on our roads is one too many.

The government response to the consultation on driving offences and penalties relating to causing death or serious injury, published in 2017, confirmed proposals to increase the maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving and for causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs from 14 years to life; and to create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving. Increasing the maximum penalty to life will enable the courts to impose a life sentence or any lesser sentence, including a determinate sentence of any length.

Sentencing must be proportionate to the offence committed. To allow judges to take into account all circumstances of the case, the normal practice is for Parliament to set maximum penalties and for the courts to determine the appropriate sentence, having regard to the facts of an individual case. Minimum sentences are therefore rarely used in criminal law in England and Wales, but even where they are introduced the court retains a discretion not to impose the sentence where it would be unjust to do so in a particular case.

In September last year the government published the white paper, A Smarter Approach to Sentencing. This confirmed our intention to bring forward changes, meeting our longstanding commitment to ensure the courts have the powers they need to deal with those drivers who kill by dangerous driving or where they are over the limits for alcohol and drugs.
We will introduce legislation on these changes in the near future.

Ministry of Justice

Other parliamentary business

MPs call for Government to bring forward new laws for dangerous driving

The Chair of the Liaison Committee, which brings together the Chairs of every House of Commons Committee, including the Petitions Committee, has written to the Government to urge them to bring forward legislation on stronger sentences for drivers who kill or seriously injure.

The Petitions Committee asked for this legislation to be requested, following the petitions it has continued to receive on this issue and the repeated commitments made by the Government in response to petitions about dangerous driving.

The Chair of the Liaison Committee said:

“The Government’s programme has been understandably impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. But now that this is closer to being under control, we would urge the Government to deliver on its commitments to and demands from select committees on other vitally important legislation which committees are keen to see brought forward.”

Find out more and read the letter: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/103/liaison-committee-commons/news/139371/government-urged-to-deliver-on-its-commitments-for-queens-speech/

Further information

The current 'Parliamentary session' is expected to finish around May this year. At the start of the new session the Government will announce its plans for introducing new laws and policies over the next year.

What is the Liaison Committee?

The Liaison Committee is a group of MPs who Chair other House of Commons Select Committees, including the Chair of the Petitions Committee.

Find out more about the Liaison Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/103/liaison-committee-commons/

Find out how Select Committees work: 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o_2RDuDs44c 

MPs to debate the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill

MPs will debate the Police, Crime, Courts and Sentencing Bill on Monday 15 and Tuesday 16 March in the main House of Commons chamber.

This is a Second Reading debate, where Members debate the general principles of the Bill. At the end of the debate, the Commons decides whether the Bill should be given its second reading, meaning it can proceed to the next stage.

The Government has said that this Bill will ensure the courts have the powers they need to deal with those drivers who kill by dangerous driving or by careless driving when under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and create a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving, as no current offence adequately punishes the serious and potentially life changing injuries that can result from careless driving.

You can read the Government's fact sheet about this Bill's provisions on road traffic offences here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-factsheets/police-crime-sentencing-and-courts-bill-2021-road-traffic-offences-factsheet

Watch the debate, which should start at approximately 3.30pm on Monday and 12.30pm on Tuesday, here:

Monday 15 March: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/b1c475ce-a63f-4769-9070-566963040718

Tuesday 16 March: https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/67a700ab-4500-4fdb-802b-f2e06854f6e1

You'll be able to read a transcript of the debates a few hours after they happen: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons

Find out more about Second Readings here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/laws/passage-bill/lords/lrds-commons-second-reading/