Draft sentencing guidelines published for aggravated vehicle taking offences

Proposed sentencing guidelines for offenders convicted of motoring offences committed while driving vehicles without the owner’s consent, have been published for consultation by the independent Sentencing Council on Wednesday (February 21).

Feb 21, 2024
By Paul Jacques
Picture: RAC

The draft guidelines cover four aggravated vehicle taking offences, which would apply when offenders have driven dangerously or caused death injury or damage to property while, for example, driving a stolen vehicle, or a vehicle driven without the owner’s authority.

For all cases of aggravated vehicle taking causing death, the harm caused will inevitably be of the “utmost seriousness”, said the Sentencing Council, with the most serious offenders facing up to 14 years in prison. This would include driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and offence committed in course of evading police.

There are currently sentencing guidelines for magistrates’ courts for aggravated vehicle taking offences involving dangerous driving, accident causing injury, and causing damage to vehicle/property published in 2008.

The proposed guidelines, which would apply to adult offenders in England and Wales, will replace the existing guidelines and will, for the first time, include sentence levels for the Crown Court.

Sentencing Council member, His Honour Judge Simon Drew KC, said: “Drivers who commit motoring offences that result in death, injury or damage to property in vehicles they do not have permission to drive, can cause anguish and inconvenience both to the vehicle owner and to victims affected by their driving.

“Victims can suffer serious consequences including death or life-changing injuries or serious damage to property including to the vehicles that were used without permission. The guidelines we are proposing today will allow courts to take a consistent approach to sentencing these offences.”

The Council is also proposing a new guideline for vehicle registration fraud offences, which include forging, altering or fraudulently using vehicle numberplates, and a new “overarching guideline” for driver disqualification, which includes principles to follow when imposing a disqualification.

The proposed guidelines will complete the Sentencing Council’s package of new and revised motoring offence guidelines, following the publication in 2023 of guidelines for causing death by dangerous driving and other offences.

The Council is seeking views on the draft guideline from judges, magistrates and other organisations or members of the public with an interest in this area. The consultation runs until May 22.

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