Careless Driving / Death by Careless Driving

If your case unfortunately involves a fatality then please contact us as a matter of urgency as our advice may differ from what is below depending on the individual circumstances of your case.

Careless driving (sometimes known as driving without due care and attention) is an offence for which the circumstances are often open to interpretation. If the Crown Prosecution Service want to convict you of this offence they must be able to prove that:

  • Your standard of driving fell below that expected of a competent driver; or
  • That you did not show “reasonable” consideration for other road users

This definition in itself is vague and there is no definitive list of manoeuvres or actions that amount to careless driving. Hundreds of motorists perform manoeuvres every day that they (and probably many others) consider to be perfectly safe and consideration. That said, if an officer forms their own opinion that your driving is careless, then charges can be brought against you. The same can be said if you are reported by another road user and this often happens when the other party feels somewhat aggrieved by another motorist .

Common Example

I think it is a fair assumption to say that most of us embarking on a morning commute have experienced some manner of driving that frustrated us.

Remember that car you overtook for driving too slow during rush hour? There is little stopping them from reporting you to the police for careless driving and charges being brought against you. What you considered as an uneventful journey may suddenly result in you facing charges and up to 9 points on your licence.

There has been talk in recent years of introducing fixed penalties for this offence and considering charges can be brought on a single person’s opinion, motorists may be subject to on the spot fines amounting to millions of pounds nationwide and additional penalty points.

The most common grounds for charges of careless driving are when a minor accident has occurred e.g. in a car park or a driver is eating/drinking whilst driving or pulling in front of another road user after overtaking.

If faced with a charge, your first response may be that the allegation is completely false but the police have a duty to investigate the matter and bring charges where appropriate.

You may also find it surprising to know that the following actions could also result in you facing criminal charges:

  • Pulling out of a junction
  • A minor accident with another vehicle (even if parked and empty)
  • Using the radio, sat-navigation etc whilst driving
  • Eating and/or drinking
  • Failing to take proper note of driving conditions (i.e. not wearing sunglasses in bright weather)

What to Do?

A case of careless driving will almost always be decided on its factual merits as opposed to technicalities or loopholes. Eye witnesses can play a crucial part in a case that descends into a “he-said-she-said” debacle.

Due to its factual nature it is difficult to provide comprehensive advice without knowing the actual facts of the case and what witnesses (if any) are involved. There are a number of possible defences however that range from issues of automatism to mechanical defects of a vehicle.

The specialist lawyers at Olliers Motor Law can provide you a frank assessment of your case and the prospects of a successful result at trial.

We strongly recommend that you contact us to discuss the details of your individual case with one of our dedicated lawyers as the circumstances of every case will be unique as will the advice you receive.

Defending the Allegation

If we believe that the case against you should be challenged, we will seek to review all evidence that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have against you. Evidence from eye witnesses can often prove to be unreliable so it is always worth seeking our opinion even in cases where the evidence seems stacked against you.

If we feel it will assist your case, we are able to employ the services of the country’s leading expert witnesses (such as accident investigators) who can assist us in the preparation of our case and ultimately strengthen our argument.

Pleading Guilty

The penalty for careless driving depends entirely on the seriousness of the offence and can range from 3 to 9 penalty points on your driving licence in addition to a fine.

If you intend to plead guilty, it is important you have specialist representation to ensure that you achieve the lowest penalty possible, especially if you are at risk of a disqualification from driving. If penalty points for this offence would result in you having twelve points or more then please see our totting up section for further information about your options.

If you are facing an allegation of careless driving or death by careless driving, contact us

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