Schedule 18 - Drugs and driving: minor and consequential amendments

Part of Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 1:00 pm ar 7 Chwefror 2013.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of David Burrowes David Burrowes Ceidwadwyr, Enfield, Southgate 1:00, 7 Chwefror 2013

One might say this schedule is where the rubber hits the road in relation to the practical impact and penalties. Ordinarily, the drug-driving offence will attract a penalty of six months in a magistrates court. However, concerns have been raised about the penalties for very serious cases, not least by my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central, to whom I pay tribute for his sterling, champion efforts in bringing this provision to this stage. For Lillian and for others who, sadly, have lost their lives at the hands of drivers who had in their system controlled drugs over the  specified limit, we want to know that those drivers will be subject to a penalty more serious than six months. The plain intention of the Bill is that they will be subject to an indictable offence with a potential sentence of 14 years in prison. We welcome schedule 18(2).

The Minister made it clear in correspondence with my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon Central that charges of causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drugs can be brought with evidence that the driver has in his body a specified controlled drug which exceeds the specified limit. This means that it is not necessary to have independent evidence of the standard of driving to bring that charge. That means that in tragic cases such as that of my hon. Friend’s constituent, drivers will rightly face a serious penalty.

I seek clarification. There is a gap, which the Minister’s words could no doubt plug. I want to ensure that there is no inequity. A driver who is over the specified limit of alcohol, who kills someone, is subject to a penalty. Is that penalty the same as that set out in schedule 18 for drivers with controlled drugs over the specified limit? Will the Minister clarify whether, for a driver who kills someone, their being over the drug or drink-driving limit is sufficient, without any other independent evidence on the standard of driving, for them to be charged with death by careless driving and face up to 14 years’ imprisonment?