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What Is Dangerous Driving?
Dangerous Driving is a complex and serious area of law therefore we offer FREE online advice in relation to such cases. Driver’s behaviour is what is important, not what the driver believes to be dangerous driving or not. Someone may be committing a dangerous driving offence even though they believe they are driving safely.
We urge you to contact us as soon as possible if you have been charged with Dangerous Driving. In some cases a conviction can result in a jail sentence, even when the charge is brought in relation to speed alone. We won these cases and could win yours too.
Dangerous driving charges often result from incidents such as collisions, accidents and road rage. Accordingly, a person who causes a road traffic accident (RTA) whilst, for example, talking on a mobile phone, putting on makeup or attempting to read a map while driving may be charged with the offence. For more detailed information on Dangerous Driving request a copy of our online eBook.
The CPS in England provide a superb and informative resource on their website where they describe what would be considered as Dangerous driving in England. “A person drives dangerously when:
- the way they drive falls far below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver and
- it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
Some typical examples from court cases of dangerous driving 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, including prescription drugs;
- driving when unfit, including having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking prescribed drugs, or being sleepy;
- knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault or an unsafe load;
- the driver being avoidably and dangerously distracted, for example by:
- using a hand-held phone or other equipment
- reading, or looking at a map
- talking to and looking at a passenger
- lighting a cigarette, changing a CD or tape, tuning the radio.”
If however a RTA resulted in no serious damage or injury then the lesser charge of careless driving or driving without due care and attention or using a mobile phone whilst driving may be more appropriate charge. “Dangerous driving” offences currently in force in the UK are dangerous driving and “causing death by dangerous driving (Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act,the Act As you would expect these offences are at the top of the scale of the most serious road traffic offences in the country. Incidents of excessive speed on a public road or in close proximity of sensitive properties such as schools, hospitals, retirement homes (with or without an incident occurring) may also attract dangerous driving charges as they suggest a serious disregard for the potential dangers that exist and the safety of others. Dangerous driving includes racing or competitive driving, disregarding warnings from passengers, reading a document or map and aggressive driving. In Scotland dangerous driving charges are brought at the discretion of the Procurator Fiscal with each Procurator Fiscal office working within its own discretionary guidelines as set down by the Lord Advocate. In order to secure a conviction for dangerous driving Section 2A of the Act states that the prosecution have to satisfy the court that the driving fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver AND it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous. The law further clarifies what dangerous means and specifies that it refers to danger either of injury to any other persons or serious damage to property. As mentioned driving at an excessive speed in itself may be sufficient to establish dangerous driving, but it is a question of fact and degree for the court to decide in each particular set of circumstances.
Police Procedure In A Dangerous Driving Charge
If you are involved in a road traffic accident the police may wish to interview you under caution if they feel that there is a reasonable suspicion you have committed an offence. Offences can include driving without due care and attention, careless or inconsiderate driving and in more severe cases dangerous driving In effect it will depend on the precise circumstances as to which offence (if any) is most appropriate. Essentially in evaluating any charge the police will want to assess how far below the standard of the reasonable competent driver your standard of driving fell. Very often the police will want to interview you as a voluntary attendance. This means that they do not plan to arrest you. Having said that if you refuse to attend on a voluntary basis they may decide to arrest you in order to carry out the interview. In this event you will be entitled to free representation at the police station by either the local Duty Solicitor or a solicitor of your choice. Like most things in life it is wise to research the firms who offer their services and see if they satisfy your requirements. The internet provides a great starting point but there is no substitute for personal recommendation. Find out more about us.
Court Procedure and The Penalties
As dangerous driving is such a serious matter, the court must disqualify for at least one year and may also impose a prison sentence of up to 2 years and/or an unlimited fine.In the case of causing death by dangerous driving the penalty rises to a minimum two years disqualification and the court may also impose a maximum of 14 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.In both cases the court must order an extended re-test on disqualification which involves passing a theory test for the category of vehicle you intend to take and a more demanding test than normal.The test lasts about 70 minutes and covers a wide variety of roads, usually including dual carriageways You are advised to prepare by taking suitable instruction from an approved driving instructor (ADI) In the event a ban has been imposed an application to have it lifted can be made to the Court once a minimum of two years have been served. In determining any penalty there are a number of criteria the court will take into account as aggravating factors. These can include consumption of drugs or a prolonged, persistent and deliberate course of very bad driving, or even driving while your attention is avoidably distracted. Serious injury to any victims is also taken into consideration.You will normally be given credit by way of mitigation if you have a good driving record and have entered a plea of guilty at the earliest possible opportunity (should that be the advised course of action to take). In relation to alternative charges, if a charge of causing death by dangerous driving has not been proven on the evidence the court has the power to convict for the lesser charges of either dangerous driving or careless or inconsiderate driving even though it has not been charged as such. Similarly if a charge of dangerous driving has not been established a lesser charge of careless or inconsiderate driving may apply In the exceptional event a dangerous driving conviction does not result in disqualification the Court can award between 3 and 11 penalty points instead. The could occur in the following circumstances:-
- Special Reasons exist (the only Special Reasons for Dangerous Driving is dealing with an emergency) A great deal of nonsense is spoken about what may constitute special reasons. Please seek out specialist advice on this issue.
- If the offender is an aiding and abetting the offence (in which case 10 penalty points will be imposed instead)
- If the offender is subject to provisions under the Mental Health Act 1983.
As far as dangerous driving is concerned there is no allowance for hardship, exceptional or otherwise and appeals against conviction are not possible if a guilty plea was tendered. In addition appeals against sentence can only be considered if any of the above Special Reasons exists.
Essentially, as dangerous driving offences usually result in very serious charges, you should always make detailed notes of what you said to the police (or anyone else) as soon as possible after the incident while events are still fresh in your mind In addition to this photographs of the location or any damage, details of lighting and weather conditions and contact details of any witnesses are always useful in the event the case proceeds to trial. Finally, it should be noted that if the evidence against you is overwhelming it may be advisable to plead guilty in order to maximise your credit and minimise the penalty. It can also be worthwhile demonstrating to the court that you acknowledge that your driving skills need to be assisted. If, on your own initiative, you attend for advanced driving training or some such course then the court are likely to take the view that at least you have learned from your experience and that you have tried to address what you recognise as a lack of skill or training. Whatever you do it is always advisable to obtain legal advice from a reputable solicitor, particularly one who specialises in road traffic law.
Many solicitors will provide a FREE case consultation either online or by telephone. You need to assess not only your case prospects but the ability and skills of the law firm that you intend to instruct. Please check out what some of our clients have been kind enough to write about our firm at conclusion of their cases.
Should you, or someone you know, be charged with Dangerous Driving then please do not hesitate to contact us for advice. Call: 0800 048 8696