People convicted of causing death by dangerous or careless driving ought to be subject to tougher sentences, according to new being guidance issued to judges.
Motorists who read or write text messages on a mobile phone could face jail sentences of up to seven years if they cause a death, according to new guidance from the Sentencing Guidelines Council.
The most serious cases where drink, drugs, or persistent bad driving are factors which lead to jail terms of up to the maximum of 14 years, the Sentencing Guidelines Council said.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said in cases of death by careless driving, an offender should be given a community sentence if the offence involved "momentary inattention".
According to the guidelines: "Where the level of carelessness is low and there are no aggravating factors, even the fact that death was caused is not sufficient to justify a prison sentence."
Medium-level cases should be punished with a sentence ranging from a community order to two years' imprisonment, and the most serious cases should always lead to jail, ranging from 36 weeks to three years, they added.
A similar pattern of punishments will be imposed for another new offence of causing death while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.
The maximum sentence for serious cases of this offence will be two years.
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