Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury
About Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury
Causing serious injury by dangerous driving is a very serious road traffic offence. In circumstances where someone has been seriously injured, it is common for the police to consider charges of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. You will usually be asked to attend a police interview before a charging decision is made, and it is vital you get advice before making any comment.
How we help
If you are charged with a serious offence and have a defence, we will advise you on it. It is not uncommon for these offences to be overcharged, and if we believe this is the case, we will strive to persuade the prosecution to reduce or discontinue the charge.
We work with specialist motoring offence barristers who will represent you at the Crown Court. You will have the best chance of defending your case successfully. If a guilty plea is appropriate, we will prepare strong mitigation to reduce your sentence.
If you would like to know more please contact us today.
The prosecution must prove the elements of the offence as required by the legal definition (in green). If they cannot, then you are not guilty of the offence. As a starting point, the prosecution must prove that your driving was of a standard that amounts to dangerous driving, not simply careless driving. In cases which result in serious injury, there is naturally a temptation for the prosecution to charge the most serious offence.
In many cases, the correct charge is careless driving which carries a much lower sentence. If you would like to know more please visit Carefless Driving.
What is dangerous driving?
Although it is an objective test, there is also an element of subjectivity when considering whether driving is dangerous or merely careless. From a legal point of view, it is easier to reduce a charge from a more serious allegation down to a less serious one than it is the other way around. Tactically, it may also invite a plea from the defence to a lesser allegation.
In light of the above, there are many occasions where the nature of the driving would appear to be careless but is ‘overcharged’ as dangerous.
For more information please see our FAQs on dangerous driving offences below.
Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury Summary
Causing serious injury by dangerous driving is if the way you drove fell far below what would be 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, and the dangerous driving caused serious injury to another person (equivalent to grievous bodily harm)
Driving Penalties: A minimum driving ban of 12 months. The court must order a compulsory re-test.
Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.
Imprisonable? Yes – up to 6 months’ imprisonment in the Magistrates’ Court and up to 5 years’ imprisonment in the Crown Court.
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Dangerous Driving Causing Serious Injury Offence FAQs
What do the police have to prove for causing serious injury by dangerous driving?
The Road Traffic Act 1988 provides that a person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if:
- The way he drives falls far below what would be 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.
The prosecution must also prove that the defendant caused serious injury to another person. This may be physical or serious psychological harm.
The law does not require that the defendant’s driving must be a significant or substantial cause of injury.
The driving need not be the only cause of injury. However, the driving must be a cause and it must be something more than a slight or trifling link. It is important to note that to be a cause of injury in law, the driving must in some way be the actual cause of harm, and not simply create an occasion for an accident.
What is the difference between dangerous and careless driving?
The definition of careless driving (driving without due care and attention) is contained in section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. It is:
“Driving in a manner that falls below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver.”
As can be seen from the definition, it is virtually identical to that of dangerous driving apart from the use of the word “below” in place of the words “far below”.
There is no such offence as causing serious injury by careless driving. If the driving does not amount to dangerous driving, the appropriate charge would be careless driving, regardless of the injury caused.
Are there any examples of dangerous driving?
- Aggressive driving (such as sudden lane changes or cutting into a line of vehicles) or racing or competitive driving or speed that is highly inappropriate for the prevailing road or traffic conditions
- Disregard of traffic lights and other road signs which, on an objective analysis, would appear to be deliberate
- Driving a vehicle knowing it has a dangerous defect or with a load which presents a danger to other road users
- Using a hand-held mobile phone or other handheld electronic equipment when the driver was avoidably and dangerously distracted by that use
- Driving when too tired to stay awake or where the driver is suffering from impaired ability such as having an arm or leg in plaster, or impaired eyesight.
Not all displays of driving will fall clearly the category of dangerous or careless driving, so you must seek advice well before entering your plea. You do not have to use the same solicitor who represented you at the police station, and in cases involving serious offences, it is often best to seek specialist motoring advice.
Are there any examples of careless driving?
- Overtaking on the inside or driving inappropriately close to of the vehicle
- Inadvertent mistakes such as driving through a red light or emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle
- Short distractions such as tuning a car radio
- A typical piece of careless driving is usually a momentary negligent error of judgement or single manoeuvre, so long as it does not fall so far below the standard of the competent and careful driver as to amount to dangerous driving.
Can the court find me guilty of anything else?
- Dangerous driving
- Careless, or inconsiderate, driving
The penalties for the above offences are far less severe than causing serious injury by dangerous driving, but dangerous driving may still result in imprisonment depending on the circumstances. Even if you are found not to have offended, it is difficult for the sentencing judge to overlook the fact that someone has been seriously injured and it is inevitably reflected in the sentence.