Forrest Williams are specialist dangerous driving solicitors. If you are being investigated for, or charged with, this offence, call our specialist dangerous driving solicitors now on 01623 397200.
What is meant by ‘dangerous driving’?
In terms of the legislation, 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.
Careless driving is a completely separate offence with its own requirements.
What legislation covers this offence?
Dangerous Driving is covered by Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
What types of behaviour could result in a charge of dangerous driving?
Examples of dangerous driving, from court cases, are as follows:-
- 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.
How is the offence seriousness determined?
First, culpability and harm are assessed by reference to certain key factors. The following lists are relevant to this offence, but are not exhaustive.
Factors indicating higher culpability:-
- Disregarding warnings of others
- Evidence of alcohol or drugs
- Carrying out other tasks while driving
- Carrying passengers or heavy load
- Aggressive driving, such as driving much too close to vehicle in front, racing, inappropriate attempts to overtake, or cutting in after overtaking
- Driving when knowingly suffering from a medical condition which significantly impairs the offender’s driving skills
- Driving a poorly maintained or dangerously loaded vehicle, especially where motivated by commercial concerns
Factors indicating greater degree of harm:-
- Injury to others
- Damage to other vehicles or property
Factors indicating lower culpability:-
- Genuine emergency
- Speed not excessive
- Offence due to inexperience rather than irresponsibility of driver
Secondly, sentencing guidelines are referred to before offender mitigation is taken into account. This can include:-
- Genuine remorse
- Admissions to police in interview
- Ready co-operation with authorities
What sentencing powers do the courts have for this offence?
This offence is triable either way, which means it can be heard in the magistrates’ or crown court, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
As the sentencing powers of the magistrates’ court are limited, the maximum sentence when tried summarily includes a Level 5 fine and/or a 6 month custodial sentence.
The maximum sentence when tried on indictment (at the crown court) is a 2 year custodial sentence.
However a case is tried, the court must endorse and disqualify a person from driving for at least 12 months.
An extended re-test must also be ordered.
If a person has had two or more disqualifications for periods of 56 days or more in the preceding 3 years, then the court must disqualify for at least 2 years.
Where there is a delay in sentencing after a conviction, the court should consider an interim disqualification.
If you have been charged with dangerous driving, contact our dangerous driving solicitors today on 01623 397200 for free initial advice.