There is a specific offence of dangerous driving, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 2 years.
If that driving is a cause of someone's death, the maximum sentence rises to one of 14 years.
In each case there are minimum disqualification periods, very lengthy actual disqualifications and insurance premiums which will be significant for many years to come and can result in some drivers not being able to secure insurance at all.
What is dangerous driving?
Dangerous driving is defined by section 2A Road Traffic Act 1988:
"...a person is to be regarded as driving dangerously if (and, subject to subsection (2) below, only if)—
(a) the way he drives falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and
(b) it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
The Crown Prosecution Service regards the following as being examples of dangerous driving, but it must be stressed that ultimately it will be a matter for the court to decide, and a full exploration of the circumstances of the alleged offence is required:
- racing or competitive driving;
- failing to have proper and safe regard for vulnerable road users
- speed, which is particularly inappropriate for the prevailing road or traffic conditions;
- aggressive driving, such as sudden lane changes, cutting into a line of vehicles or driving much too close to the vehicle in front;
- disregard of traffic lights and other road signs, which, on an objective analysis, would appear to be deliberate;
- disregard of warnings from fellow passengers;
- overtaking which could not have been carried out safely;
- driving when knowingly suffering from a medical or physical condition that significantly and dangerously impairs the offender's driving skills such as having an arm or leg in plaster, or impaired eyesight. It can include the failure to take prescribed medication;
- driving when knowingly deprived of adequate sleep or rest;
- driving a vehicle knowing it has a dangerous defect or is poorly maintained or is dangerously loaded;
- using a hand-held mobile phone or other hand-held electronic equipment whether as a phone or to compose or read text messages when the driver was avoidably and dangerously distracted by that use
- driving whilst avoidably and dangerously distracted such as whilst reading a newspaper/map, talking to and looking at a passenger, selecting and lighting a cigarette or by adjusting the controls of electronic equipment such as a radio, hands-free mobile phone or satellite navigation equipment;
How we can assist
Whether facing imprisonment or not, the loss of a driving licence is for many people an incredibly serious penalty in itself, so all steps should be taken to avoid that happening.
It is therefore vital that if interviewed by police following an accident that you secure legal representation at the outset. All legal advice and assistance at a police station is free of charge, regardless of your financial means
Whether an act of driving amounts to dangerous driving is often not easy to ascertain, but our experienced lawyers routinely deal with all manner of driving cases, from the minor to the most serious.
At Emery Johnson Astills our specialist advocates in the Criminal Defence Team are highly experienced in dealing with driving offences at both the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. If you find yourself facing any driving offence it is vital to contact a solicitor as soon as possible to obtain expert legal advice. Representation at the police station is free, and legal aid may be available for your case at the Magistrates’ and Crown Court. For offences which do not qualify for legal aid, we offer fixed fees for appointments and representation. To discuss any driving offences please contact our Criminal Defence Team at Emery Johnson Astills in Leicester on 0116 2554855 or in Loughborough on 01509 610312.