The West

Motorists who drive recklessly or injure others while fleeing police face at least six months behind bars under new legislation being introduced by the State Government today.

Police officers will also be given more legal protection during high-speed chases.

Police Minister Liza Harvey revealed details of the proposed laws this morning.

Drivers face a mandatory 12 months' jail if they kill or seriously injure another road user while evading police.

Those charged with driving recklessly or charged with dangerous driving causing bodily harm face a mandatory minimum six-month term.

While offenders face tougher penalties, police officers chasing them have a new defence if they cause a serious crash or drive recklessly.

Driving on official duty, acting "substantially" in accordance with pursuit guidelines and driving reasonably in the circumstances and in the public interest will provide a defence against potential charges of dangerous driving causing death or serious injury, dangerous driving causing bodily harm, reckless driving or dangerous driving.

Ms Harvey could not provide details on circumstances in which defence the police would apply.

The WA Police Union welcomed the proposed laws, but President George Tilbury said the union received the right to take industrial action if the legislation was not passed this year.

He would not detail what industrial action could be taken. Asked if it included banning pursuits, he said the union would keep open all options.

Mr Tilbury said the proposed laws struck a good balance and provided better protection for officers.

He said the union still wanted offender onus legislation, where offenders are liable for any offences caused during a pursuit, but he accepted this was a more complex issue.

The West Australian

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