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Saturday, 12 January, 2002, 01:32 GMT
Driving law shake-up 'being considered'
Gary Hart arriving at court for sentencing with wife Elaine
Gary Hart fell asleep at the wheel
Ministers are reportedly considering a revamp of the law on serious driving offences.

The reports follow the jailing of Gary Hart, the driver who caused the Selby rail crash in which 10 died, for causing death by dangerous driving after falling asleep at the wheel.

The trial judge said there was little difference, in moral terms, between the actions of a drink-driver and those of a sleep-deprived driver.

Channel 4 News said on Friday that a government report will conclude that sentencing for dangerous driving is inconsistent, and that there should be a more simple structure of charges.

Tougher penalties

It said the report, commissioned by the Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions, will recommend dropping the offence of careless driving.

With a maximum penalty of 2,500, this carries a far lesser penalty than causing death by dangerous driving, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years' jail.

A DTLR spokesman said it was not government policy to comment on reports before they are published.

But campaigners have said that prosecutors often choose the lesser charge, because the chances of securing a conviction are greater.

Last month the Home Office published a consultation document on changes to road traffic offences, and is currently looking at responses.

"This is something the government has been looking at for a long time," a Home Office spokeswoman said.

See also:

11 Jan 02 | England
Selby driver jailed for five years
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