Dangerous Driving Offence
About Dangerous Driving Offences
Dangerous driving is a very serious road traffic offence for which you can go to prison. If you are convicted, you will face a minimum 12-month driving disqualification and be required to pass an extended re-test before you can drive again. Our Dangerous Driving Solicitors are experienced in dealing with these cases and can help you get the best outcome.
How we help
If you are charged with dangerous driving 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.
In many cases, the correct charge is careless driving which carries a much lower sentence. We are often able to persuade the prosecution that careless driving is the more appropriate offence which means that the potential penalties are not as harsh. You cannot go to prison for careless driving.
We work with specialist motoring offence barristers who will represent you at the Crown Court or we can represent you in the Magistrates’ 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.
Defending cases of dangerous driving
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.
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.
Dangerous Driving Summary
Where it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
If it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dangerous.
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 2 years’ imprisonment in the Crown Court
A driver who had been disqualified for 6 months in the magistrates' court after a second 'totting...
Driver avoids penalty points for driving without insurance using special reasons We recently...
Our company client was acquitted of failing to give driver details after a trial in the...
Dangerous Driving FAQs
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”.
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 ways to avoid a ban?
Special reasons are different from defences. It is like saying: “I did drive dangerously, but I have a really good reason for it”. You must have a very good reason as the courts are generally reluctant to find special reasons. If the court finds special reasons, the magistrates have the discretion not to impose penalty points.
See our page on special reasons for more details.