The offences have specific meanings in law, and the consequences of conviction differ significantly. It is essential to receive advice from a specialist motoring lawyer, to determine whether the manner of your driving may constitute an offence, and if so, whether it has been appropriately classified. Additionally, one of the specialist driving offence lawyers at Freemans Solicitors can discuss with you whether you have a defence, or what mitigation is available that might avoid points and/or disqualification from driving or worse.
Careless driving is committed where how the vehicle is driven ‘falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.’ The more serious offence of dangerous driving is committed where the manner of driving falls “far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver,” and that the driving would be obviously dangerous from the perspective of such a driver.
The test is an objective one and examined as against that of ‘a careful and competent driver.’ The court will ask themselves whether the manner of the driving fell far below what, by objective standards, could reasonably be expected from such a driver, and whether that would have been obvious to such a driver. In determining if driving is dangerous, the court will look at many factors. These might include speed, adherence to road/weather conditions, whether the driver had proper consideration towards other road users, whether his ability to drive was affected by drink/drugs and whether he/she was entirely focused on the road or might have been avoidably distracted by his actions.
There are a wide range of sentencing options for dangerous driving and these range from a low-level financial penalty right up to the maximum sentence of two years imprisonment. The final sentence arrived at will depend upon a range of factors. These will include matters of personal mitigation and mitigation in relation to the offence itself. Therefore, if you face a charge of dangerous driving, it is imperative to seek the help of a specialist motoring lawyer.
The following are some examples of the types of actions that could amount to dangerous driving:
The prosecution must prove to a criminal standard that your driving fell below the requisite standard. If they cannot you should be acquitted. Other defences include automatism, duress, and the vehicle having an unknown mechanical defect.
Dangerous driving is an either way offence and therefore can be tried in either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court, depending on the seriousness of the alleged offending.
Yes. The minimum term of disqualification that must be imposed for dangerous driving is 12 months, and this will be increased if the offence involves aggravating features. If a custodial sentence is imposed, then the court will likely extend any driving ban so as any disqualification will run to a suitable period following the end of any term of imprisonment. There will also be a requirement to take a retest before driving again after the period of disqualification has finished.
No. If you are acquitted of dangerous driving, in either the Magistrates or Crown Court, the court must go on to consider if the driving constituted a careless driving offence.