Drivers locked up for serious motoring offences can serve out their driving bans while in prison, Auto Express has discovered.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said disqualifications kick in on the first day of an offender’s sentence, rather than after they are released.
The news is a bitter blow for road safety campaigners, who lobbied the Government for a change to the law three years ago.
A volunteer for charity Brake, Jan Woodward, set up Kelly’s Campaign in 2009 after she learned that the drink driver who killed her daughter Kelly would serve the vast majority of his five-year ban while behind bars.
The Government passed the Coroners and Justice Act in November 2009 in response. At the time, the MoJ confirmed that the Act would ensure offenders banned from driving and also given prison sentences would be prevented from driving for “an appropriate period after release”.
But we learned that this is not the case. An MoJ spokeswoman has told us that while the Coroners and Justice Act made provisions for the changes to become law, they hadn’t yet come into effect.
She said: “We’re working on implementing provisions to making this statutory law. But she could not tell us when this would occur. MoJ guidelines allow judges to extend offenders’ driving bans by up to the same length as their prison sentence, but this is done on a case-by-case basis.
Brake campaign officer Franki Hackett said: “It’s vital bans only commence once a convicted driver has finished their jail term; if not, the ban is meaningless. It is deeply disappointing to hear that some drivers are still serving bans while in jail.”
This news comes just two weeks after Auto Express discovered underage criminals serve bans before they’re legally old enough to drive.