Updated on Thursday 27th May 2021
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Careless driving involves not observing the minimum standard of due care and attention when deriving a vehicle in the UK. It encompasses a number of acts that are highlighted in the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Drivers who are found guilty of careless driving can receive penalty points, fines as well as a disqualification from driving in more serious cases. When their driving was careless enough to cause the death of another individual, then this offence can also be subject to imprisonment.
Knowing how certain behaviors are defined in the applicable laws is useful when stopped by the police. If you were fined for careless driving while in the UK and are unsure of how to proceed further, you can reach out to our team of driving offence solicitors for complete legal advice on how you can act on the penalty or, if applicable, the disqualification.
In this article, we briefly answer some of the most important issues concerning driving without due attention in the UK. You can always contact one of our solicitors for more personalized answers.
What is the difference between careless and dangerous driving?
Careless driving mainly involves actions that are related to how the driver acts whilst operating the vehicle on the road, as opposed to dangerous driving when the actions are also related to the state in which the driver finds himself (for example, enraged or inebriated, amongst others).
Our motoring solicitors present some examples of careless driving below:
- driving too close to another vehicle;
- ignoring a red light;
- turning in front of another vehicle;
- overtaking on the inside
- flashing lights to force other drivers out of one’s way;
- misusing lanes;
- unnecessary braking as well as unneeded slow driving.
By contrast, a driver who is racing, speeding or driving aggressively is one that is subject to a different offence, the one involving dangerous driving.
Drivers who are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are prosecuted accordingly and one of our drink driving solicitors in London can help you if you have been accused of this. This is an altogether different offence compared to careless driving and specialized assistance is required.
What penalty points can be awarded for careless driving?
Understanding the road traffic rules, as well as the applicable penalties for offences, is important for drivers in the UK. Along with this basic understanding, proper guidance offered by our team can be of great help when stopped by the police and accused of a certain offence, such as careless driving.
Our driving offence solicitors list the possible penalties for offences that fall under careless driving:
- 3 to 9 penalty points: driving without due care and attention and/or without reasonable consideration for other road users;
- 3 to 11 points: causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving;
- 3 to 11 penalty points: causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink or drugs;
- 5,000 £ fine: this is a maximum fine value that can apply in some careless driving cases.
The penalty points and fines for dangerous driving can be different. As seen above, there is a distinction between causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving and causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink. Our drink drive solicitor in London is able to help you if you fall in the latter. It is also useful to know that, according to the legal guidance issued by the Crown Prosecution Service, the driver’s skills or lacks thereof, as well as previous convictions, are not relevant when establishing carelessness or dangerous driving.
We invite you to watch the following video on careless driving in the UK:
We invite you to watch the following video on careless driving in the UK:
Driving disqualifications are also possible in case of careless driving. In serious injury cases as well as in those traffic collisions that result in a fatality, the vehicle can be seized.
Sentencing guide for careless driving
Our driving solicitors present below part of the sentencing process in case of careless driving as set forth by the Magistrates Court.
- Step 1: the category of the offence is established; three possibilities exist – higher culpability and greater harm (1), higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm (2) lower culpability and lesser harm (3);
- Step 2: determining the starting point and the category range (according to the Band A, B, or C fine);
- Step 3: consider the factors that could reduce the sentence, such as assisting the prosecution;
- Step 4: applying the potential reductions for a guilty plea;
- Steps 5 and 6: apply the totality principle (establish a sentence that is just and proportionate with the overall offending behaviour) and consider whether to make other ancillary orders (these are orders that are in connection with the forfeiture, other than the forfeiture order; included here is disqualification from driving).
The main factors that increase the seriousness of the careless driving offence are the following:
- Statutory: previous convictions according to the nature of the offence and its relevance for the offence that is being taken into consideration in the present; whether or not the present offence was committed whilst on bail;
- Others: failure to comply with the orders, contravening a red signal at a level crossing and whether or not the offence was committed post-sentence supervision.
The factors that reduce the seriousness of the offence include remorse, good character or exemplary conduct and whether or not the individual has no previous convictions or no relevant or recent convictions. A reduction is also offered according to section 74 of the Sentencing Code when the offender offers assistance to the prosecutor or investigator. The Court has the possibility to issue ancillary orders in appropriate cases. These are taken into consideration when the overall penalty needs to be commensurate with the offence’s seriousness.
An important principle followed in sentencing driving offences, as well as other types of offences, is the Equal Treatment Bench Book, which offers guidance on how the parties that issue the sentence should take into account the fairness of the court proceedings.
When sentencing a case involving careless driving, the prosecutor and investigator will take into account whether or not the acts were on the border between dangerous and careless driving.
Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving
Careless driving cases are understandably aggravated when they result in the death of an individual. The maximum sentence for causing death by this type of driving is set at 5 years imprisonment, however, sentence ranges are lower for causing death by careless driving compared to causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence, a case in which the maximum sentence is 14 years of imprisonment.
Like in the case of simple careless driving (without victims), the following are taken into account when determining the sentence:
- Offering assistance at the scene: in those cases in which the offender is able to intervene in a positive manner and offer proper assistance to the victims at the scene of the collision, his or her acts can be considered personal mitigation; it is useful to point out that the offender may not be physically able to intervene if he or she is personally injured;
- Good driving record: if the offender had been an exemplary driver up to the event, then the court can take into account this; however, it should be noted that this does not apply ex officio for all members of the society; the judges may decide to use this mitigating factor when the offender was an ambulance driver, a taxi driver or a professional driver that has performed his duty with the utmost care for years before the accident; this factor is even more important when the offender was driving on public duty, for example, if he is a police officer and at the date of the accident was driving to respond to an emergency;
- Remorse: it can be deemed personal mitigation, although any individual who has caused death by careless driving is expected to feel remorse; the Court is the one to decide if it will use this for the purpose of mitigation or not.
In all careless driving cases, those without victims and those that caused death, the prosecutors will take into account the aggravating and the mitigating factors that are both general as well as specific. Our team of driving solicitors can help you with proper court representation if you are subject to such a sentence.
How can our driving solicitors assist you?
The Crown Prosecution Service is the one to evaluate your case and determine if your offence is considered careless or dangerous driving. As previously states, the injury or death of a person in the collision is an aggravating factor, however, this alone does not turn careless driving into dangerous driving. According to the Service, causation is an important factor when discussing manslaughter cases and the manner in which the defendant was driving (be it careless or dangerous) as this will be linked to the cause of death. Our team of driving solicitors can explain causation in more detail and can, when needed, help represent you in court.
If you were involved in careless driving, it is advisable to reach out to a solicitor as soon as possible after the incident. Contact our motoring solicitors and find out more about careless driving and the applicable penalties in the UK.