Under the new offence, disqualified drivers will now face up to 10 years in prison – five times the current maximum sentence – if they cause death, and up to four years’ imprisonment if they cause serious injuries.
The Justice Secretary also announced his intention to launch a full review of all driving offences and penalties, to ensure people who endanger lives and public safety are properly punished. This will include reviewing offences committed by uninsured and unlicensed drivers.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘I want to make our roads safer and ensure people who cause harm face tough penalties.
‘Disqualified drivers should not be on our roads for good reason. Those who chose to defy a ban imposed by a court and go on to destroy innocent lives must face serious consequences for the terrible impact of their actions.
‘Today, we are sending a clear message that anyone who does will face much tougher punishment.’
The current maximum sentence faced by a driver who causes death while driving when disqualified is 2 years imprisonment and there is no specific offence of causing serious injury by driving while disqualified.
The Government plans to change the law shortly to introduce the new sentences. The changes are expected to be implemented in early 2015.
The new review of driving offences will be carried out over the next few months and published in due course.
The move has been greeted by road safety charity, Brake.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, said: ‘The paltry sentences handed out for deaths and injuries caused by disqualified drivers, who have no right to be on the road in the first place, are one of the worst injustices in the current system, and Brake strongly welcomes the government's move to address this. Getting behind the wheel when you have been banned from driving is a deliberate and illegal choice, and too often leads to devastating tragedies – the penalties must reflect this.’