The Secretary of State for Justice has agreed to consider a dangerous driving crackdown being called for by an Otley family and its MP.
MP Greg Mulholland (Lib Dem, Leeds North West) has been fighting for years alongside the family of Jamie Still, who died after being hit by a speeding drink-driver, to get the law changed.
The 16-year-old St Mary’s School, Menston, student was struck by a car in Otley town centre on New Year’s Eve, 2010.
The over-the-limit driver responsible, Max McRae, was jailed for four years – but had been allowed to keep driving for eight months after Jamie’s death, up until his trial.
Mr Mulholland raised the issue again this week in the House of Commons. Addressing the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling MP, he said: “If someone is breathalysed and found to be over the limit their driving licence can be suspended straight away.
“However, if someone is found to be over the limit and kills somebody it can take months.
“That was the experience of the family of Jamie Still, whose killer drove for eight months after killing him in 2010.
“Prosecutors do not ask for the suspension of a driving licence in a case of death by criminal driving.
“What discussions will the Secretary of State have with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about that?”
Mr Grayling replied that he we would “take the matter forward” and look carefully at it.
Judges already have the power to impose a driving licence suspension as a bail condition, but only if prosecutors request it – which rarely happens.
Mr Mulholland, Jamie’s family and road safety charity Brake are all campaigning for tougher laws to make an automatic licence suspension a bail condition in cases of causing death by careless or dangerous driving.
But the MP believes that even getting prosecutors to start requesting the suspension, and judges to start granting it as a matter of course, would be “a big step forward”.
He said: “It is ridiculous that whilst someone found to be over the drink-drive limit rightly loses their driving licence straight away, someone over the limit who has killed someone with their car does not and are allowed to carry on driving.
“This is what happened to Jamie’s family, who had to endure the additional distress of Jamie’s killer driving in the same area for eight months.
“Other families must not have to endure this on top of the pain of losing a loved one as a result of someone’s reckless, criminal driving.
“This needs to be tackled, ideally with an automatic driving licence suspension as a condition of bail – but in the meantime the Ministry of Justice and CPS must ensure prosecutors are clear they should ask judges to suspend licences.
“I am pleased the Secretary of State has agreed to discuss it further. I look forward to meeting him and putting across the concerns of Jamie’s family and others who have found themselves in this awful situation.”
Last summer Jamie’s sister, Rebecca, handed in a 13,000-signature petition to Downing Street.