Causing Death by Dangerous Driving

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving

Causing death by dangerous driving is the most serious road traffic offence. In very sad circumstances, where someone has died, it is common for the police to consider charges of causing death 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 at before making any comment.

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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.

Defending cases of causing death by 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. In cases which result in someone’s death, there is naturally a temptation for the prosecution to charge the most serious offence.

For more information please see our FAQs on causing death by dangerous driving offences below.

Factors to consider

The police may be under pressure from the family of the deceased who is understandably upset and is seeking justice for their loved one. 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.

In many cases, the correct charge is causing death by careless driving, which carries a much lower sentence.

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving Summary

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Legal Definition

Causing death 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 the death of another person
Main Legislation

Section 1 Road Traffic Act 1988

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Maximum Penalties

Driving Ban: A minimum driving ban of 2 years. The court must order a compulsory re-test.

Fine: N/A

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Court

Crown Court only

Imprisonable? Yes – up to 14 years imprisonment.

Do you need help protecting your driving licence?

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

Relevant Cases

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving Offence FAQs

What do the police have to prove for causing death by dangerous driving?

The prosecution must prove that the driving was dangerous and that the defendant caused the death by driving dangerously.:

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 the death of another person.

The law does not require that the defendant’s driving must be a significant or substantial cause of death.

The driving need not be the only cause of death. 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 death in law, the driving must in some way be the actual cause of death, and not simply create an occasion for an accident.

What is the difference between causing death by dangerous and careless driving?

The distinction is primarily based upon the standard driving displayed. It is a matter of fact and degree.

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 causing death by dangerous driving?

Examples of dangerous driving include:

  • 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.

Can the jury find me guilty of anything else?

If you want to defend your causing death by dangerous driving offence and the matter goes to trial, the jury has several options. It is not simply a matter of finding you guilty or not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. If they find you not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving, they may find you guilty of the following offences in the alternative:

  • Dangerous driving
  • Causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving
  • Careless, or inconsiderate, driving

The penalties for the above offences are far less severe than causing death by dangerous driving, but the first two in the list 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 died and it is inevitably reflected in the sentence.

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Asad Ahmed
Asad Ahmed
15:41 21 May 21
5* have dealt with lucy twice now! Very professional. Knows what shes doing! Would definitely recommend!
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
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Jobin Mathew Joseph
Jobin 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.read more
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
Vicky Clarke
Vicky 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 enoughread more
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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