Fatal crash drivers who use mobiles face prison

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The Independent Online

Motorists who cause fatal crashes could be jailed for up to five years if it is found they were using their mobile phone at the time, it was proposed yesterday.

A new offence of causing death by careless driving - unveiled by the Government - would plug a loophole in the law which, at the moment, sees drivers escape with a charge of careless driving, punishable by a fine of up to £2,500.

The Home Office also proposed another new offence of death resulting from driving while disqualified or unlicensed, which would also carry a five-year sentence. At the same time a consultation paper said some less serious motoring offences, such as driving while disqualified, should carry community punishments, not jail. Handing offenders a sentence of electronic tagging or community work may be more effective punishment, the paper said.

The proposals were welcomed by campaign groups but the Conservatives said that anyone who kills while using a mobile should be charged with causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 14 years.

Home Office officials said the new offences of bad driving could create demand for an additional 800 prison places.