New research by road safety charity Brake has apparently found strong support for strengthening both the charges and sentences faced by criminal drivers.

Around 91% of people questioned agreed that if someone causes a fatal crash when they get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs, they should be charged with manslaughter, which carries a possible life sentence.

At present people can either be charged with causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs. Sentences for those charges range between 26 weeks and 14 years, though sentences at the higher end of the range are rarely handed out.

The survey also found that most people back much tougher sentences for all criminal killer drivers. Two thirds of people (66%) questioned think those convicted should be jailed for at least ten years. About half of people asked said the sentence for killing someone in a crash should be at least 15 years and one in five (19.8%) think drivers who kill should be jailed for life. At present almost half of drivers convicted of killing are not jailed at all. The average prison sentence for a driver who has killed someone is less than four years.

Brake is now calling on the Government to immediately review guidelines for both charging and sentencing criminal drivers.

Brake's survey also revealed overwhelming support for never using charges that describe driving as "careless" in cases where bad driving has resulted in death or injury. Around 84% of people questioned agreed a charge of dangerous driving should always be brought.

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