Dangerous Driving Offences
If you have to go to court for dangerous driving, you need legal advice from driving solicitors.
Dangerous driving is a very serious driving offence for which you can go to prison for up to 2 years. This will depend on the circumstances of the offence and your driving record.
A conviction for dangerous driving gives you a criminal record but careless driving does not. Sometimes we are able to persuade the prosecution to reduce the charge.
Dangerous driving carries a minimum 12-month driving disqualification and you will 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.
Get in touch if you have received:
- a request to attend a police station interview for dangerous driving
- contact from the police telling you that they are charging you with dangerous driving
- a Notice of Proposed Driving Disqualification
- a Court Summons
- a Postal Requisition for dangerous driving
- a court hearing date
Dangerous vs careless driving
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.
There does not have to be an accident for driving to be considered dangerous or careless.
How We help
- We can represent you at an interview at the police station for dangerous driving.
- We can write to the police to ask them to withdraw or reduce the charge to careless driving.
- We can advise you on your plea.
- We can tell you how to strengthen your case.
- We can represent you in court at a plea hearing, a case management hearing, trial, or a sentencing hearing.
Defending cases of dangerous driving
The prosecution must prove the elements of the offence. If they cannot, then you are not guilty of the offence.
As a starting point, the prosecution must prove that your driving fell far below the standard of a careful and competent driver.
The definition of dangerous driving is contained in section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
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.
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Dangerous Driving FAQs
How do you prove dangerous driving?
Dangerous driving can be proven using evidence such as dashcam footage, expert evidence, a witness’s oral account, vehicle data or mobile phone data.
There does not have to be video evidence to prove dangerous driving. It is common for the evidence to come from people who have seen the driving and are prepared to tell the court about it.
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”.
What happens if you go to court for dangerous driving?
If you go to court for dangerous driving, your case will start off in the Magistrates’ Court.
If you enter a guilty plea, your case may be sent to the Crown Court for the sentencing hearing.
If you plead not guilty, the Magistrates Court will decide if your case can stay in that court or be sent to the Crown Court. However, you can choose to have your case sent to the Crown Court. You must get advice before deciding whether to elect for a Crown Court trial.
Are there any ways to avoid a ban?
Yes, you can avoid a ban if you have special reasons.
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.
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.
How long can you get sentenced for dangerous driving?
If you are convicted of dangerous driving, you can be sent to prison for up to 2 years. However, many people don’t go to prison for dangerous driving.
You will also receive a mandatory driving ban of at least 12 months and have to take an extended driving test if you want to drive again.
Get in touch by completing the contact form below, and one of our team will get back to you.