Careless and Dangerous Driving
Driving without due care and attention (more commonly referred to as careless driving) generally carries a penalty of between 3 and 9 points and a fine of up to £2,500 although in more serious cases it can result in a disqualification.
Typically an allegation of Careless Driving will arise when there has been a road traffic accident (although it may do so in other circumstances). To secure a conviction for this offence, it must be proven that the driving fell below the standard of the careful and competent motorist. Put simply this means that it must be shown that the driver was at fault in some way and that the driving has caused inconvenience to another road user. This may seem like a low hurdle for the prosecution to overcome, but a single breach of the Highway Code will usually not be enough to result in a conviction.
The prosecution will often claim that the fact a collision has occurred speaks for itself - the inference being that the motorist must be guilty. However, if a defence is raised by your legal team which is capable of absolving you from blame, for example a sudden defect in your vehicle or unsafe road conditions, the prosecution must disprove it beyond reasonable doubt.
If you are found guilty of dangerous driving you will be subject to a minimum disqualification from driving of at least 12 months and also be ordered to take an extended re-test. In extreme cases, the Court may also impose a custodial sentence of up to 12 months.
To secure a conviction for dangerous driving, the prosecution must prove that the manner of driving fell far below the standard of the competent and careful driver and be likely to cause danger of personal injury or serious damage to property. This is a higher standard of proof than is required for driving without due care and attention. Whether driving is considered careless or dangerous is a matter of fact and degree. If you are accused of dangerous driving it may be possible, with the right legal representation, for the Court to accept a plea to the lesser charge.