Implement 'Jenny's Law' to stop offenders gaining a licence after death by drink driving.

Implement 'Jenny's Law' to stop offenders gaining a licence after death by drink driving.

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Kellan Blakeway started this petition to UK Parliament and

I’m sure you were all as shocked and disgusted by the news as I was. Matthew Shaw, the man responsible for the tragic loss of Jennifer Rose Sell, was to receive a meagre 6 years in prison for his crimes. This man is a murderer responsible for not only the crimes he committed, but also for the mental anguish experienced by those surrounding the accident. Family, friends, even strangers like myself who tried to help. For this incomprehensible butterfly effect directly catalysed by being one and a half times the legal limit, he received a sentence befitting drug dealers. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident and horrors like this happen constantly with little reparation. I am writing this as a lifelong constituent of BANES on behalf of anyone who yearns for safer roads. I have seen what dangerous driving causes, and I am quite frankly bewildered at the minor sentence it carries.
 
This means that in 6 years this man will be free to live as he pleases, and in 9 years he will once be able to drive again. Whilst I am using my personal anecdote to illustrate my point, this man was tried under UK law and as it stands this means that people who drink, drive and kill will be back on the roads in less than a decade. That is not a world I wish for myself or anyone for that matter, but somehow that is the world we now live in. What I am proposing is a new law, or a change to current law that prevents those convicted of death by dangerous driving from being given a light sentence. More specifically: I propose a law named ‘Jenny’s Law’ to prevent these people from then being allowed to use the road again. The sentence handed to Matthew Shaw perpetuates the incredibly toxic idea that a car is a lesser weapon than a gun. You need a license to own a gun, and you need a license to own a car. However, the sentence for gun crime is disproportionately harsher than if a car had been the weapon. We need to do something about this, and we need to think about how we are enforcing or being complicit in people doing awful things. If you step behind the wheel of a car you might as well have a gun in your hand, and we don’t often hear of people drunkenly using guns so how is a car any different? I propose that we enact a law named ‘Jenny’s Law’ to stop these offenders from gaining their license back, or better yet, to challenge the short sentence currently in place. A life taken is still a life taken, and a car is as deadly a weapon as any.
 
Causing death by dangerous driving can be split into four sections; causing death by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs, causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured. The maximum prison sentence a court can impose for causing death by dangerous or careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs is 14 years. For causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving it is 5 years. For causing death by driving whilst unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured it is 2. Essentially this crime has been placed in the small gap between being ‘careless and inconsiderate’ and the hefty 14-year maximum for fatal drink and drugs offences. This is morally, inherently and disproportionately wrong when compared to sentence times for non-fatal crimes. I would describe Matthew Shaw’s actions that night as nothing close to ‘careless and inconsiderate’. To call it that would be an insult to myself and my neighbours’ memory. He hadn’t checked his phone in a sober moment: this is a careless and inconsiderate thing. He was one and a half times over the legal limit for drink.
 
This was neither careless nor inconsiderate, it was placing yourself behind the wheel of someone else’s car whilst intoxicated, driving speeds of 105mph and deciding not to stop for a red light. Of course, one innocent driver happened to be in his path which he did not know due to his own intoxication. But he drove through that light; he got behind the wheel, he drove recklessly, and he drove into someone. That girl died, and that means that this can be considered as no less than manslaughter. Facts given to Jenny’s parents by the police further reinforce his recklessness; Matthew refused a drugs test at the scene and back at the station, drugs were found in his car, he had previous convictions for drink driving that he had been jailed for 16 months for and he crashed head-on into another motorist on 4/11/2020 whilst on bail. This is not careless nor is it inconsiderate; this is a man who made his own bad choices that night, and the sentence does not reflect taking a life. Accountability needs to stop being moved away from the perpetrators of fatal road traffic accidents. They need to be held accountable, they deserve sentences befitting taking a life and they deserve to never be on the road again. We need to stop coddling the offenders, because we don’t want to risk instilling in younger generations that what people like Matthew Shaw do is okay. It is not.
 
This is a case that resonates with so many, and in Great Britain in 2019 1,752 people were killed in road traffic accidents. This is too many, and the government needs to reconsider categorisation of death by dangerous driving to a sentence befitting taking a life. Not only this, but the government implementing Jenny’s Law would mean that offenders aren’t given another chance to use a car as a weapon; this is the progress we need to be making this year. We need more collective empathy, more questioning and openness to changing our minds, and we certainly by now need to be holding killers accountable. Preventatively, we could benefit from more education in schools regarding vehicle, alcohol and drug misuse. There are options but the government needs to take them.
 
Thank you,
Kellan
 
 

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