Careless Driving Offence

About Careless Driving or Driving Without Due Care and Attention

Careless driving is the name commonly used to refer to the offence of Driving without Due Care and Attention. Other names for Careless Driving include: undue care, reckless driving and inconsiderate driving.

If you are convicted of this offence, the court must impose a minimum of 3 penalty points on your licence. There are exceptions to this which we can advise you about. If you were not stopped at the time and there was no accident, you should receive a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) warning you about prosecution for careless driving.

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Driver Awareness Courses

If the case is not serious and if you are eligible, the police may offer you a driver awareness course for careless driving. This is entirely at the police’s discretion, but we may be able to persuade them to offer you a course depending on the circumstances.

If you would like to know more please contact us today.

Single Justice Procedure Notices

If someone was injured, your case is more serious or you have too many points on your licence, you will receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice for driving without due care and attention.

The court will decide whether you need to attend a hearing.

If you would like to know more please visit Single Justice Procedure Notice

Court Hearings

All careless driving offences are dealt with in the Magistrates Court except for appeals which are dealt with in the Crown Court. You cannot go to prison for careless driving unless you have caused someone’s death.

For more information please see our FAQs on careless driving offences below.

Careless Driving Summary

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Legal Definition

Driving of a standard that falls below that of a careful and competent driver

Main Legislation

Section 3 Road Traffic Act 1988

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Maximum Penalties

Driving Penalties: 3-9 penalty points, or driving ban (no maximum).

Fine: Unlimited.

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Court

Magistrates only (unless an appeal)

Imprisonable? No – unless you cause someone’s death making it a different offence of causing death by careless driving.

Do you need help protecting your driving licence?

Talk to us today about how we can help you with your driving offence.

Relevant Cases

Careless Driving Offence FAQs

What do the police have to prove for careless driving?

To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must show that the standard of your driving dropped below that of a careful and competent driver. This gives the prosecution a very low hurdle to get over. Most people will probably admit that at some point their standard of driving will drop below that of a competent and careful driver. Fortunately for them, if they are not seen and/or lucky enough not to be involved in an incident, there will be no criminal consequences.

Often a prosecution for careless driving will be reliant upon witness testimony and sometimes it can be one driver’s word against another’s. On other occasions, there may be a collision report or even a mechanical report.

What is the standard of a careful and competent driver?

The law states that the test is an objective one. What that means is that it doesn’t matter what the driver him/herself thinks about the standard his/her driving. What matters is what a reasonable person would consider reasonable in the circumstances. The fact that a driver has not long passed his test does not excuse him from driving carelessly (although it may be mitigation). The driving must be judged at the time of the incident. Therefore the question is: “were his actions reasonable in the circumstances?”. It does not matter that with hindsight, he may have acted differently.

Will I be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) for Careless Driving?

Unless you were stopped at the time or involved in an accident, the police must send a Notice of Intended Prosecution to the registered keeper or driver so that it arrives within 14 days. The Notice of Intended Prosecution is usually combined with a request for driver information. If you do not respond to the request, you are likely to be convicted of an offence of failing to give driver details. That offence carries 6 points or a discretionary disqualification.

Can the Police disqualify me from driving?

No. The police have no power to impose a driving disqualification. The police can only offer fixed penalties which carry points and a fine depending on the offence. You do not have to accept fixed penalties if you do not accept the offence. Only courts can impose driving disqualifications.

Are there any examples of careless driving?

This list is by no means exhaustive, but examples of careless driving include: overtaking on the inside or driving inappropriately close to another vehicle; inadvertent mistakes such as driving through a red light, turning right into the path of an oncoming vehicle, or emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle; or short distractions such as tuning a car radio or programming a sat nav. It doesn’t have to be much to be classed as careless driving. It’s often just a momentary negligent error of judgment or a single negligent manoeuvre, which in reality all of us have probably made at some point. Some of us have just been lucky, in that nothing more serious happened as a result so that we didn’t face a careless driving allegation.

Are there any defences to careless driving?

There are a number of defences to careless driving which has been put forward in the past, but very few were successful. Obviously, the usual defence is that the standard of driving did not drop below a careful and competent driver. Here are some less common examples of submitted defences: Falling asleep was not successful because the driver should have stopped when he knew he was tired. Mechanical defects can be successful but evidence of the defect will need to be produced. In addition, the defect must not have been obvious to a careful driver. Sudden loss of visibility may be a defence but only where it is very sudden. A driver who loses his vision should stop driving immediately. Automatism eg. through illness can be a defence, but if the driver knows that he is suffering from an illness likely seriously to affect his control of the car and drives, he is guilty. Necessity or Duress may be successful, but the need or duress must justify the act ie. the way in which the vehicle was driven.

Do I need a solicitor for a careless driving offence?

At the very least, you should really get some advice. We can advise you on an appropriate plea and give you genuine honest advice about the prospects of success of your case should you have a defence. Of course, the ultimate decision to defend an allegation is yours. Remember that the question of whether someone has committed an offence of careless driving is a matter of law to be applied to the facts. If it appears you accept the allegation or that the evidence against you is very strong, we can put forward the best possible mitigation on your behalf, to keep any penalty imposed to an absolute minimum. Often those who or are facing allegations of careless driving, also facing allegations of failing to stop failing or report after an accident. Of course, these allegations make the issue even more serious, and it is even more important to seek legal advice.

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Asad Ahmed
Asad Ahmed
15:41 21 May 21
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Bobby Charles
Bobby Charles
19:05 07 Feb 21
I have had an extremely positive experience with Lucy Whittaker. She is very knowledgeable, very proactive and always... explains things in a clear and precise.She was able to convince the court to drop a driving without due care charge despite the police and the CPS disareeing.I would hesitate to recommend Lucy and Pragma Law anyone who needs assistance.read more
harry bedder
harry bedder
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Jobin Mathew Joseph
Jobin Mathew Joseph
18:11 25 Nov 20
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Lewis Cobley
Lewis Cobley
11:12 05 Nov 20
I highly recommend Pragma Law for any motoring problem. They were very efficient and professional even with little time... to prepare.read more
A Google User
A Google User
14:30 04 Jul 20
What can I say about pragma law and Lucy whitaker, 1st class absolutely brilliant!!!. I had my licence revoked last... October due to vasovagal syncope (faint) from the word go Lucy was brilliant, and I only dealt with her, she explained everything, in every stage extremely professional in everything she does, and had my licence back. What a result!!! thank you so much Lucy.read more
hannah vanessa
hannah vanessa
15:45 15 Jun 20
I suffer with anxiety (as many) and this incident completely took over my life for months until I met Lucy. I was super... comfortable and confident in her work as she was very professional and was always available to help. Really helped take the stress away - thanks Lucy and thanks Pragma!read more
Wayne Davies
Wayne Davies
14:51 08 Jun 20
What can I say about pragma law and Lucy whitaker, 1st class absolutely brilliant!!!. I had my licence revoked last... October due to vasovagal syncope (faint) from the word go Lucy was brilliant, and I only dealt with her, she explained everything, in every stage extremely professional in everything she does, and had my licence back. What a result!!! thank you so much Lucy.read more
Rukhsar Latif
Rukhsar Latif
13:59 19 May 20
Lucy genuinly cares about her clients she took on my case dealt with everything herself and won my case I couldn't be... happier with the results and the service. I will definitely be using Pragma Law again if needs be.read more
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Vicky Clarke
20:16 03 Mar 20
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Paul Mercer
Paul Mercer
17:19 31 Jan 20
Lucy Whitaker provided an impressive, cost effective service. She was objective, responded quickly to questions and, I... believe, offered the best advice before efficiently dealing with a case as it came to court.I would have no hesitation either in using Lucy again, should the need arise, or recommending her services.read more
Rebecca Hodkinson
Rebecca Hodkinson
16:33 19 Nov 19
Lucy represented me in a driving case and I couldn't be happier. She was friendly, professional and pragmatic without... giving me false hope. The outcome was a more positive one than I expected and that's down to her advice and detailed preparations. Would highly recommend! Thank you Lucy!read more
Gary Sykes
Gary Sykes
22:12 04 Oct 19
We were so impressed with Lucy Whitaker. She represented our son in an unusual driving case which thanks to her... knowledge, care & understanding, ended in a much better than expected outcome. Clear, concise & professional, we highly recommend her... can't thank her enough!!read more
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