Drivers face jail if found texting in UK
With the increased use of mobile phones people are indulged in chatting or texting even during driving. Now a new law in Britain will make it difficult for the motorists who read or write text messages on a mobile phone. They could face jail sentences of up to seven years if they cause a death, under guidelines issued today for England and Wales.
Drivers who kill while eating, sending a text message or putting on make-up could be jailed under new careless driving laws which come into force on Monday.
Justice Minister Maria Eagle said courts will also have greater powers to punish motorists who are disqualified or have no insurance or license. "Drivers who kill through carelessness will no longer be able to walk away from court with just a fine," Eagle said.
The new offences will carry prison terms of up to five years for causing death by careless driving and up to two years for causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.
Under the old laws, the maximum penalty for these offences was a £5,000 fine and points off a license. Courts will have to decide how badly a driver was distracted.
If a court rules that a motorist was guilty of a "gross avoidable distraction", they could be charged with the more serious offence of causing death by dangerous driving. That carries a jail term of between two and 14 years.
"Reading text messages over a period of time" would be seen as a gross distraction. A brief loss of concentration while adjusting controls or glancing at a text message would be an "ordinary distraction" leading to charges of careless rather than dangerous driving.