Is dangerous driving a serious allegation? Will I be banned?
Dangerous driving is one of the most serious motoring offences and conviction will not only result in an immediate disqualification of at least 1 year but is also likely to trigger community service or a potential prison sentence. The fines can be substantial and even once the ban is served, your licence will not be reinstated until you have passed an extended driving test, which is much more thorough than the normal driving test.
What is dangerous driving?
Dangerous driving is detailed in Section 2 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act as allowing your standard of driving to fall so far below that of a prudent motorist, that it would be obvious to a prudent motorist that driving in such a manner would likely result in damage or personal injury.
Do I have to be involved in an accident to be convicted of dangerous driving?
No. Is it not a requirement of the allegation that an accident / damage / injury arises. Merely that driving in such a manner is likely to result in such an outcome. Consequently, driving at an extremely high speed can be prosecuted as dangerous driving, even if no other party is involved. Racing another driver, intimating or hassling other motorists are all typically prosecuted as dangerous driving. Likewise, serious errors of judgment, such as overtaking in close proximity to an oncoming vehicle or failing to stop at a level crossing are often prosecuted as dangerous driving offences.
Can I reduce the penalty?
You always have the option to present mitigation to minimise the penalty for dangerous driving but even then, a conviction will result in at least a 12 month disqualification. An alternative option is to "plea bargain" by offering a guilty plea to a less serious offence, such as careless driving (driving without due care and attention), on the basis that the dangerous driving offence is withdrawn.Careless Driving
What is the difference between dangerous and careless driving?
Although the offences are similar, the main difference is the severity of the error. A driver is guilty of careless driving when his standard of driving is simply "below that of a prudent motorist". For dangerous driving, the error needs to be far more serious i.e. "so far below that of a prudent motorist that it is likely to result in damage or injury". Driving without due care may arise from a momentary lapse / inattention, whereas dangerous is more likely to occur when a motorist has deliberately taken a risk or has repeated a series of errors.
Careless driving, whilst carrying a discretionary disqualification, would normally be resolved by a penalty of 3–9 points plus a fine. A penalty point endorsement is not an option for dangerous driving for which a 12 month minimum ban is compulsory.
How easy is to persuade the Police to reduce a dangerous driving offence to careless driving?
The prospects of reducing the allegation will depend on the exact circumstances of the offence, whether the Police believe that it was a genuine mistake and to some extent, the willingness of the Police to discuss matters. In some cases, both the Police / CPS will point blank refuse to accept a plea to driving without due care, yet at Court it will be accepted by the Judge. In other cases, when it is patently obvious that dangerous driving has been committed, you may be best off mitigating against that offence as opposed to wasting time trying a plea bargain that will not be accepted and simply annoys the prosecution.
Should I seek legal advice?
Yes. Dangerous driving is a very serious offence and you should seek advice at the earliest opportunity. For example, the Police may demand a face to face interview and you should definitely obtain advice before agreeing to / attending an interview of any description with the Police. If you have already been charged, again, you should seek advice immediately.
You should assume that you will be required to attend Court in person and therefore, obtaining advice now can address not only the circumstances of the offence etc., but minimise the stress / worry of dealing with the Court process and the Police.Legal Advice