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When it comes to driving offences, it is essential to know the difference between two common charges: careless driving and dangerous driving. Not only do these charges differ in terms of driving behaviour, but they also have varying consequences for drivers facing them.

Careless driving, as defined in section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, involves operating a motor vehicle on a road or public place without proper care and attention or reasonable consideration for others. It is considered an offence when the driving falls below the standard of a competent and careful driver. On the other hand, dangerous driving, outlined in section 2 of the same Act, refers to operating a motor vehicle in a manner that significantly deviates from the standard of a competent and careful driver, posing an obvious danger to others.

Interestingly, there is no clear-cut list of actions that determine whether a matter is categorized as dangerous or careless driving. The distinction lies in the degree to which the driving behaviour deviates from the standard of a competent and careful driver. This can reach the level of being deemed dangerous.

Differences in Disposals and Consequences for Careless Driving and Dangerous Driving

The dissimilarities between these two charges become more apparent when considering the disposals available to the courts for each offence and the impact a guilty verdict can have on the driver. A conviction of careless driving typically results in 3 to 9 penalty points. In some cases, discretionary disqualification, coupled with a fine of up to £2500. Unlike careless driving, dangerous driving also carries the possibility of a prison sentence of up to 2 years.

Being found guilty of dangerous driving entails a mandatory disqualification for at least one year. It also carries a fine and a requirement to retake an extended driver’s test before being permitted to drive again.

Understanding Police Warnings and Prosecution Discretion

For certain road traffic offences, including careless and dangerous driving, a conviction should not be considered valid unless the accused has been properly given a sufficient warning within 14 days of the alleged offence. It is important for drivers to be aware that if no “accident” has occurred, the police are legally obligated to issue a warning under section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. An “accident”, however, is not the same as a “collision.” Getting expert legal advice on this definition may be vital in a successful defence.

This particular point is crucial as cases can often go to trial when there is uncertainty regarding the appropriate administration of a section 1 warning and the timing and manner in which it was given. Road Traffic Law is an intricately technical area of law. An expert road traffic lawyer will ascertain whether due process has been followed by examining police witnesses. If due process has not been observed, a challenge to the conviction based on the legislative competency of the charge can be made. This is merely the preliminary step before considering evidential grounds. Or exploring potential special defences available to the driver, such as necessity or duress.

Your Options: Even When Guilty of Careless Driving or Dangerous Driving

This is why we emphasise that “even when you’re guilty, you have more options than you think.” Road traffic law is complex, and it’s essential to have expert advice and representation. So, whether you are facing a charge of dangerous driving or careless driving, it is in your best interest not to take any chances with your freedom and livelihood. Reach out to our award-winning Road Traffic Team for the guidance and representation you need.

Understanding the differences between dangerous driving and careless driving is crucial for drivers facing such charges. While the distinction lies in the degree of deviation from the standard of a competent and careful driver, the consequences and disposals associated with each offence vary significantly. It is important to note that accidents are not necessary for these charges. Drivers may be surprised when faced with the allegations.

Seeking the expertise of a road traffic lawyer is vital. They can challenge convictions based on legislative competency and explore potential defences.

Remember, even when you’re guilty, there are options available to protect your rights.

If you have any questions or need specialised road traffic advice, don’t hesitate to contact us at 0141 374 2121. Book an appointment with a road traffic lawyer here.

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