Dangerous driving is a serious motoring offence and the penalties for dangerous driving are very severe, with a prison sentence being a real possibility. If you have a viable defence, Hammond Trotter Solicitors will investigate the circumstances surrounding you case and comprehensively examine all of the details, irrespective of how minor they may at first appear.
As with all offences, it is for the prosecution to prove each and every element of the offence. A charge of dangerous driving is no exception. The following are common mistakes that drivers make that can result in the charge:
- Driving aggressively
- Overtaking or undertaking in an unsafe manner
- Knowingly driving an unsafe vehicle
- Ignoring traffic signs or signals
- Driving when unfit (unable to see clearly, being sleepy, with an injury)
- Driving whilst being avoidably distracted, for example by: using a mobile phone, reading, looking at a passenger, reading a map, lighting a cigarette
or fiddling with the in car audio system
A dangerous driving offence is committed by driving far below the standard of a competent driver. Dangerous driving is defined in law as the standard of driving falling far below the standard of a competent and careful driver, and that it would be obvious to the competent and careful driver to drive in that manner would be dangerous.
Possible defences for a dangerous driving charge
- Sudden illness: whereby the individual lost control of the vehicle due to an unexpected and sudden medical condition
- Necessity: if the individual was forced to drive dangerously (escaping from the threat of violence or physical assault)
- If an undiscovered mechanical fault caused loss of control of the vehicle
- The individual was taking part in an authorised motoring event
Hammond Trotter must be able to provide evidence to support your belief that you were driving at the required standard (or above) of a competent driver. Or provide evidence of any mitigating circumstance that have led to an accusation. It is important to understand that you will never be guaranteed of success and you may still be charged with the lesser offence of driving without due care and attention.
Causing serious injury by dangerous driving
A relatively new offence that came into force on 3rd December 2012, causing serious injury by dangerous driving can be defined, according to the Road Traffic Act, 1988, as:
“A person who causes serious injury to another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence.”
The purpose of the amendment to the 1988 Road Traffic Act was to enable courts to deliver longer sentences to those who are found guilty of causing serious injury to individuals as a result of their dangerous driving. Previously, there was a gap in the law if a person was not killed but suffered injuries in an accident caused by a motorist who was driving dangerously. Prosecutors could charge the motorist with dangerous driving with a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison, or careless driving which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of £5,000.
Causing or inciting dangerous driving
Many of our clients have been accused of causing or inciting dangerous driving. A solid defence is necessary due to the harsh sentencing that can be given. Offences relating to this crime that you might have been accused of are:
- Aiding and abetting dangerous driving
- Permitting dangerous driving
- Causing dangerous driving
- Inciting dangerous driving
If you have been charged with this offence incorrectly you need to employ a good solicitor who will endeavour to prove your innocence. This is a significant offence that is taken very seriously by the courts. If you are found guilty you could suffer the same penalties as though you had actually been driving the vehicle
Dangerous driving penalties
If your case is heard at a Magistrate’s Court you could face a fine of up to £5,000 with a custodial sentence of up to 6 months, plus face at least a 1 year disqualification and an extended retest before you are permitted to drive again.
If your case is heard at Crown Court and you are found guilty you could be imprisoned for a maximum of 2 years, face a minimum period of disqualification of 1 year and the same retest before being permitted to drive again.
Hammond Trotter only specialises in motoring law and are simply the best representation you can get. We achieve excellent results on behalf of our clients and give an unsurpassed service. You can always come and see us personally in our Manchester or London offices and we are on hand to give initial advice for free.