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A47 crash sparked law comes into force

PUBLISHED: 16:29 16 August 2008 | UPDATED: 14:40 07 July 2010

Motorists who kill whilst avoidably distracted at the wheel will face prison under new careless driving laws which come into force on Monday.

The new offences will, for the first time, allow courts to imprison drivers who cause deaths by not paying due care to the road, or to other road users.

Motorists who kill whilst avoidably distracted at the wheel will face prison under new careless driving laws which come into force on Monday.

The new offences will, for the first time, allow courts to imprison drivers who cause deaths by not paying due care to the road, or to other road users.

They have been referred to as Alexine's law, after a 17-year-old who died after the car in which she was a passenger was hit from behind and pushed into the path of oncoming traffic on the A47 at Little Fransham near Dereham in 2004.

Her parents have campaigned for the new rules, designed to plug the gap in current legislation and so prevent drivers who kill walking away from court with just a fine.

Avoidable distractions which courts will now consider when sentencing motorists who have killed include using a mobile phone (calling or texting), drinking and eating, applying make-up and anything else which takes their attention away from the road and which a court judges to have been an avoidable distraction.

The new laws will also penalise uninsured, disqualified or unlicensed drivers who kill.

The new offences will carry custodial sentences of up to five years for causing death by careless driving or up to two years for causing death by driving while unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured.

Prior to the introduction of these new laws, the maximum sentence for those convicted of causing death by careless, uninsured or unlicensed driving was a maximum £5000 fine and penalty licence points.

Justice Minister Maria Eagle said: "Drivers who kill through carelessness will no longer be able to walk away from court with just a fine.

"Neither should uninsured or unlicensed drivers who deliberately flout the law.”

The new offences are among a range of provisions introduced as part of the 2006 Road Safety Act.

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