What you need to know about dangerous driving
Dangerous driving is the most serious (non-fatal) road traffic offence that a motorist can face. Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act makes it a criminal offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place. The seriousness of the offence is reflected in the sentencing powers of the court. If convicted, a motorist can receive a custodial sentence of up to two years as well as lengthy disqualification periods and extended re-tests when the driver reapplies for their licence.
The Prosecution must be able to prove that the standard of driving displayed by the defendant was way below the minimum standard of a competent and careful driver, in order for a motorist to be convicted of the offence. This means that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that manner would be dangerous.
Driving in an aggressive manner, racing, ignoring road signs or any form of reckless overtaking would all fall under the offence of dangerous driving. Speed alone can also amount to a dangerous driving charge if the speed is high enough. Furthermore, if a motorist knowingly drives a vehicle with defective brakes and this leads to an accident, they too might be charged with the offence.
Penalties for dangerous driving
As dangerous driving is classed as a serious offence, a case can be heard in either the Magistrate’s or Crown Court. In the Magistrate’s Court, the sentencing powers are more limited with a maximum penalty of a custodial sentence of 6 months. If the case is heard in the Crown Court the sentencing powers are greater. Therefore, the convicted defendant could face up to 2 years in prison. In addition, a motorist convicted of dangerous driving would be required to sit an extended re-test before they are allowed to drive again.
Proving that the standard of driving was so poor that it constitutes dangerous driving rather than careless driving can be difficult for the prosecution. As the highest level of careless driving is described as careless bordering on the dangerous, a charge of careless driving can be argued as being more appropriate.
Sentencing guidelines for careless driving
The starting point for sentencing guidelines on first time offenders not pleading guilty are as follows:
- Single incident where little or no damage or risk of personal injury – Medium level community order – ranging from low level community order to high level community order, disqualification for 12-15 months
- Incident(s) involving excessive speed, especially on busy roads or in a built up area OR single incident where little or no damage or risk of personal injury but the offender was a disqualified driver – 12 weeks’ custody – ranges from high level community order to 26 weeks’ custody, disqualification for 15-24 months
- Prolonged bad driving involving deliberate disregard of safety of others OR Incident(s) involving excessive speed, especially on busy roads or in a built up area, by disqualified driver OR Incident(s) involving excessive speed, especially on busy roads or in a built up area, by a disqualified driver while being pursued by Police – will be heard in the Crown Court and carry the maximum sentence
Defending a dangerous driving offence
Every dangerous driving case is different and the way in which they are presented can make a crucial difference to the outcome. If you are facing an allegation of dangerous driving, our expert motoring offence solicitors are here to help. It can often be difficult for the prosecution to distinguish between dangerous and careless when it comes to the standard of driving. The main objective of our defence is to secure an acquittal for the defendant. However, if this is not possible we will endeavour to ensure that the level of charge brought is as low as possible.
As specialists defending drivers charged with motoring offences such as dangerous driving, we know the law inside out. We could argue, for instance, that the driving was not dangerous, merely careless which would carry a significantly lighter penalty. Through contacting a dedicated member of our team you will have access to outstanding legal advice and the best possible chance of securing the most satisfactory outcome. We will help you to pursue any potential lines of defence and endeavour to keep you on the road. There may be perfectly legitimate grounds for you to appeal against your charge and keep your licence. However, unless you decide to challenge the charge you will never know.
Contact PDA Law
Through contacting a member of our team, you can find out exactly where you stand legally. As we offer a free, no obligation meeting, as well as a no win, no fee service where appropriate, you can proceed with no financial risk throughout the process.
To receive tailored advice from our expert driving offence solicitors, contact PDA Law today by calling 01244 373373. Alternatively, fill out our online contact form and we will call you back at a time that is convenient for you.