Receiving a dangerous driving charge is the most serious motoring offence that can be committed without causing death or injury. The offence of dangerous driving is under section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The definition of the charge of dangerous driving can sometimes be confused with the definition of careless driving. So, to clarify, dangerous driving includes driving behaviours that “falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driving, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.” If you drive in a dangerous manner, you will risk prosecution.
Dangerous driving is a far more serious than careless driving. If a driver is convicted, the driver will be automatically banned for a minimum period of twelve months. Additionally, the driver may be ordered to take a retest before the driver is allowed to drive again. Dangerous driving offences will be dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, depending on the seriousness.
You are at serious risk of being sent to prison if you have been accused of these allegations. So, now is the time to ask a motoring offence specialist how to defend your allegations, such as our team at Driving Solicitors. It is a high-risk strategy to entrust cases like these to a non-specialist.
But what are these dangerous behaviours that the law has mentioned? There are various driving behaviours that are deemed as dangerous in the law’s eyes. Examples of these driving behaviours that are considered dangerous are:
- Racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively
- Ignoring traffic lights, road signs or warnings from passengers
- Overtaking dangerously
- Driving under the influence of drink or drugs (this also includes prescription drugs)
- Driving while unit including having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking required prescription drugs or being fatigued
- Driving whilst knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault or an unsafe load
- Driving whilst distracted, using a hand-held mobile phone, lighting a cigarette, looking at a map etc
The penalties for dangerous driving vary between whether the driver has caused death by dangerous driving or was caught driving in a dangerous manner before death was caused. The maximum penalty for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving is a fourteen-year imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a compulsory disqualification (which would be have a two-year minimum period). The penalty points for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving is three to eleven penalty points on your driving licence but this is exceptionally not disqualified.
The maximum penalty for dangerous driving is a two-year imprisonment, an unlimited fine and an obligatory disqualification. The penalty points would be three to eleven if the driver has exceptionally not been disqualified.
There are also various charges to do with dangerous driving that a driver could be accused of. The offence of aiding, causing or inciting dangerous driving is an offence directly linked to dangerous driving. If a one individual’s actions in some way result in another driver committing a dangerous driving offence, the initial driver may also be charged with a dangerous driving offence. Offences of this nature fall in three separate categories. They are:
- Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring dangerous driving.
- Causing or permitting dangerous driving
- Inciting dangerous driving
The punishments for all these offences are often equal to the penalties an individual would receive if they had committed the offence of dangerous driving themselves. For example, an individual charged with causing dangerous driving could receive the same or similar punishment as someone who commits dangerous driving.
Another offence that is directly linked to dangerous driving is the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. This is a relatively new offence which was introduced in December 2012. This offence was introduced to create a sort of middle ground between the least and the most serious driving offences. The offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving carries a more serious penalty than just dangerous driving, but the penalties are not as severe as causing death by dangerous driving. “Serious injury” has been defined by the law as physical harm which amounts to grievous bodily harm (GBH). The maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving is five years in prison and between 3 and 11 penalty points on the driver’s licence.
The last offence which is linked to dangerous driving is wanton and furious driving. Now this offence is a very rarely used charge, the full name of the charge is “causing bodily harm by wanton or furious driving”. Now, it is generally used to prosecute offenders who have caused bodily harm through driving in a way that other dangerous or careless driving offences cannot be applied to. The wanton and furious driving offence dates from 1861, but has been used against non-motor vehicles, such as cyclists and horse carriages etc. In February 2016 a then eighteen-year-old Charlie Alliston was charged with the offence of manslaughter and causing bodily harm by wanton and furious driving after he knocked over and consequently killed a female pedestrian, Kim Briggs (aged forty-four) with his bicycle. Alliston was later cleared of manslaughter in August 2017 but was imprisoned for eighteen months for wanton and furious driving. A typical wanton and furious driving charge can result in an unlimited fine, and up to 2 years in prison.
Now there are different possible defences that you could use against a dangerous driving charge. However, these defences should be discussed fully with one of our fully qualified solicitors. So, the first possible defence is that the driver can dispute that their driving was below the standard of the competent and careful motorist. However, this defence does come with its own dilemmas. Even if this dispute is successful, this defence may not prevent the driver from being conviction for the lesser offence of driving without due care and attention, which is an alternative verdict to dangerous driving.
An alternative defence is that the driver was experiencing pressure which forced the driver to drive dangerously. This is defence is called necessity or duress. A common pressure for this is fleeing from a threat of violence or an actual assault. Another possible defence is if the driver’s vehicle has a previously undiscovered mechanical fault that has caused the driver to lose control of the driver’s vehicle.
A different way of defending this charge is arguing that the driver’s vehicle was suddenly deprived of control by sudden illness and/or a medical condition, for example a sudden coma or epileptic fit. However, it is key to note that a loss of control thrown a known pre-existing condition will not usually provide a defence, and might in fact make matters worse for the driver’s sentencing and conviction. A highly unusual defence against this charge is if the driver was taking part in an authorised motoring event. However, with this defence the likely hood that the police would not be aware of an authorised motoring event is unlikely so if using this defence, ensure that the motoring event is authorised with the correct authorities.
Our team of specialist driving offence solicitors at Driving Solicitors have the experience and expertise to help and guide you through the experience of being reported for summons of dangerous driving. Due to the complexity of the law surrounding dangerous driving, it is vital that you get professional advice from an experienced solicitor. Whether you think you are guilty or not guilty of these charges, Driving Solicitors can help you with your case and ensure that you get the best outcome. So, if you want professional legal help to put together a good defence case with you, please do not hesitate to contact Driving Solicitors on 0203 488 2551 and get expert legal advice from a specialist motoring solicitor today.
For more information on Careless Driving offences please Click Here
Written by: Miriam Rhodes-Leader