Causing Death by Careless Driving

About Death by Careless Driving Offences

Causing death by careless driving and causing death by inconsiderate driving are two of the most serious offences. The maximum penalty is up to 5 years in prison. Not everyone convicted of causing death by careless driving will go to prison. It will depend on the circumstances of the case and the person involved.

The Police treat collisions involving fatalities differently from other driving offences. They will want to interview those involved, and it is essential you get legal representation. What you say at an interview may be used against you, and this can make a substantial difference to the outcome. Our specialists have experience in representing motorists accused of causing death by careless and dangerous driving. We have secured not guilty verdicts and avoided custody for the driver accused.

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Free Initial Legal Advice

If you have been involved in a fatal road traffic accident, I would be pleased to have a free initial discussion to see if I can assist you. In the unlikely event I am unable to help you, I will tell you without charge. If you do instruct us for further advice or court representation, I will agree fixed fees for each stage of the work.

We have successfully defended these serious cases before and can give you the best advice. Your insurers may agree to pay our fees, but if not, we offer very competitive rates, despite using only specialist solicitors and barristers.

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

How we can help

We will liaise with your insurance company without charge and explore if there is cover in place to cover our fees. Being accused of such a serious driving offence causes a lot of stress, and we will do our best to keep that to a minimum. Our fees are transparent and very competitive for those who must pay privately.

You will have one allocated solicitor throughout your case and will be assigned a Specialist Motoring Offence Barrister to handle your court hearing. No paralegals or unqualified advisers will be used for your very important case.

For more information please see our FAQs on Death by Careless Driving offences below.

Death by Careless Driving Summary


Legal Definition

Driving of a standard that falls below that of a careful and competent driver and which causes the death of another.

Other Names for Causing Death by Careless Driving Driving without due care and attention causing death, undue care causing death

Main Legislation

Section 2B Road Traffic Act 1988


Maximum Penalties

Driving Penalties: Obligatory disqualification of a minimum 12 months. Court has the discretion to order a re-test.

Fine: Unlimited.



Magistrates or Crown Court.

Imprisonable? Yes – up to 6 months in the Magistrates’ Court, up to 5 years in the Crown Court.

Do you need advice about Death by Careless Driving?

Talk to us today about how we can help you.

Relevant Cases

Death by 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.

Which cases result in prison sentences?

There are specific court sentencing guidelines which set out the range of penalties — a list of factors which the court should take into account when sentencing is provided. The guidelines can be found here.

The cases which may not result in custody are typically those where the driving involved only a momentary lapse of concentration, with no aggravating features. The lowest penalty suggested by the guidelines is a low-level community order.

The court will determine each case on its facts, taking into account the circumstances of the driver.

What is an aggravating factor?

An aggravating factor may lead the court to conclude that a higher penalty should be imposed.

Examples given in the guidelines include:

  • Where there are other offences committed at the same time, such as driving other than in accordance with the terms of a valid licence; driving while disqualified; driving without insurance; taking a vehicle without consent; driving a stolen vehicle
  • Previous convictions for motoring offences, particularly offences that involve bad driving
  • More than one person was killed as a result of the offence
  • Serious injury to one or more persons in addition to the death(s)
  • Irresponsible behaviour, such as failing to stop or falsely claiming that one of the victims was responsible for the collision

The above list is not exhaustive.

The Court must balance these against any mitigating factors

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.

Can I choose which court hears my case?

This will be decided at the first hearing which will be in the magistrates’ court. The magistrates or presiding district judge will hear representations from the prosecution about where the case should be heard. The defence can also make representations.

The court will then make a decision about whether the case should be heard in the crown or magistrates court.

If the court decides that the case is suitable for a magistrates’ court, you still have the choice to elect for the case to be heard in the crown court. You need to take legal advice before making this decision as there are pros and cons of either venue.

If the court decides that the case should be dealt with by the crown court, you cannot choose to have it heard in the magistrates’ court.

Do I need a solicitor for a causing death by careless driving offence?

Without question, yes!

In these very sad and serious cases, you risk imprisonment, even if you have never been in trouble with the police before.

Pragma Law
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a tanasa tanas
18:02 25 Nov 21
Working with Lucy Whitaker as my lawyer has been the best thing I could have ever done. She sorted out my problem as BEST and i truly recommend her to anyone that needs to solve car problems.Flavia Campilli
Joseph PaynterJoseph Paynter
16:18 12 Nov 21
I recently had a case involving an E-Scooter, unfortunately I committed an offence that I didn't even know was illegal. I contacted Pragma Law after reading reviews and outcomes of similar cases, and was put into contact with Lucy Whitaker. Lucy was very professional throughout the whole process, and was very realistic with me about my outcome from the initial phone call. The consultation was extremely through and well carried out, and Lucy was always available to contact if I had any questions. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome from the court after Lucy's representation- from the potential of a suspended sentence reduced to a ban on the lower end of the range, and without a community order. In the court room Lucy was very good at explaining to the Magistrates that the seriousness of the case was nothing like what the sentencing guidelines were designed to punish for (driving a car) and this is what got my punishment reduced. The prices are reasonable, and transparent from the initial phone call with no hidden costs. Would definitely recommend.
Tim NVTim NV
14:43 14 Oct 21
Was really impressed with PL and Lucy. Was given great advice (which I wouldn’t have been able to obtain without guidance) throughout the whole process. Every time we communicated over the phone it was followed up with a written email with actions, next steps etc. was also fortunate enough to work with her colleague David too who represented my case where I avoided a ban of 6 months.
Abi CorsiAbi Corsi
16:39 14 Sep 21
Lucy is the best lawyer I could have possibly found. I unexpectedly received a letter from the police who at the time intended to prosecute me for driving an electric scooter without insurance, and without a license. I was terrified as if found guilty, I would receive 6 penalty points and would have lost my drivers license. Other solicitors I called said unfortunately there was nothing they could do. Lucy on the other hand immediately reassured me and wrote a letter to the police which persuaded them to drop the charges completely. I honestly can’t recommend her enough. Thank you Lucy!
Aziz AbilovAziz Abilov
15:29 31 Aug 21
I contacted Pragma Law when I wanted to appeal against a decision made in the Magistrates court. Lucy had picked up my case and advised me on the next steps. She helped me with everything that was required, advised me on all possible outcomes of the appeal, helped me get my licence back until the appeal hearing comes along, and then went ahead and got the appeal accepted in the Crown court. She is not only the best solicitor I’ve worked with, but she is also a wonderful human being. Very lovely and easy to work with, even the judges loved her! I 100% recommend you to contact them with any issues you have.
Asad AhmedAsad Ahmed
15:41 21 May 21
5* have dealt with lucy twice now! Very professional. Knows what shes doing! Would definitely recommend!
Bobby CharlesBobby 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.
harry bedderharry bedder
15:53 16 Dec 20
Fantastic Service provided by Lucy, very profesional and quick at getting you answers and providing the help you might need! I will definitly be recomening Pragma Law to anyone I know that has a motoring proplem please do the same...
Jobin Mathew JosephJobin Mathew Joseph
18:11 25 Nov 20
Absolutely brilliant! 100 percent reliable! The case was related to driving matter and I had initially approached few other solicitors for help with my case. They all denied saying we would not win the case. But Lucy happily took the case and help me win the case with the best possible outcome.She puts you at ease and confidence. Very responsive in your queries. She genuinely care for case and very pleasant to deal with. Always well prepared and wins you the best possible outcome. Very Very Strongly recommend. Thanks much Lucy.
Lewis CobleyLewis 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.
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.
hannah vanessahannah 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!
Wayne DaviesWayne 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.
Rukhsar LatifRukhsar 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.
Vicky ClarkeVicky Clarke
20:16 03 Mar 20
I couldn't have hoped for a better solicitor. Lucy did everything she could to get the best possible outcome for me, and I can't thank her enough
Paul MercerPaul 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.
Rebecca HodkinsonRebecca 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!
Gary SykesGary 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!!

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