If your dangerous driving case involved a fatality then please contact us to discuss.
Dangerous driving is arguably the most serious offence a motorist can face. Sentencing is severe and often includes a prison sentence. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 a person will 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
If your dangerous driving case involves a fatality then the advice you need may differ from what is outlined here depending on the circumstances. Please contact us for an informal chat so we can give you bespoke advice about your particular case.
Dangerous driving is classed as an “either-way” offence. This means that the case can be heard in either the Magistrates or Crown Court depending on how serious it is.
If your case is heard in the Crown Court then you could face more severe penalties as their powers are greater than those of the magistrates’ court. The Crown Court may impose up to two years in prison and impose an indefinite driving ban. By comparison, the maximum prison sentence available to the magistrates’ court is 12 months imprisonment and a 2-year disqualification. Where the court is heard is not always in your hands, yet the venue is hugely significant due to the disparity in the sentencing powers of each court and the way trials are conducted.
What Can Amount to Dangerous Driving?
The wording of the offence means it is open to interpretation and argument but this allegation can arise out of numerous circumstances. It can also arise as part of other offences and examples of dangerous driving can be:
- Aggressive driving or racing
- Overtaking manoeuvres that are not considered safe (particularly undertaking)
- Knowingly driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition (worn tyres, excessive loading etc)
- Being significantly distracted whilst driving (e.g. eating, using a telephone or radio, reading a map etc)
- Disregarding traffic signals
This list is not exhaustive, and each case is brought on its own merits which are considered by the police and the Prosecution before formal charges are made against you.
Being an “either way” offence means that the court process is more complicated than in those cases that can only be dealt with by the magistrates’ court. Motoring Defence Solicitors has extensive experience of this type of case so please contact us to discuss your options.
You can read more about how the courts assess “seriousness” and “aggravating factors” on their respective pages.
Defending Allegations of Dangerous Driving
Driving that person A considers dangerous may be viewed differently by Person B. Stating that the standard of driving must fall “far below” what is expected from the “careful and competent” driver creates a high threshold and we often find that allegations of dangerous driving can be reduced to the lesser charge of careless driving. This has a significant impact on the penalty you face.
Dangerous driving cases rarely involve technicalities and largely focus on the facts. Witness testimony is crucial in cases such and there is little evidence that is safe from challenge.
At times, allegations of dangerous driving arise from a “heat of the moment”-type scenario where a disgruntled motorist (whether a civilian or a police officer) has been inconvenienced because of your driving and makes an allegation against you. At the time of the incident, the gravity of it can seem greater than it actually is. Despite initially branding driving as dangerous, when the case is looked at objectively you may realise that what happened was not that serious as initially thought.
We would strongly recommend specialist representation due to the complexities involved in a dangerous driving case. Court proceedings can be lengthy, intimidating and confusing but our specialists can guide you through this process and offer support at each stage of the case.
If you accept that you have driven dangerously you may decide to plead guilty to the allegation in which case the proceedings become largely about damage limitation.
The proceedings to plead guilty to dangerous driving can still be more complex than for most road traffic cases due to the severity of the potential penalties and we want to help you navigate the court process and secure as positive a result as possible.
For guilty-plea cases , we can offer a fixed-fee to prepare comprehensive mitigation and provide an experienced barrister to represent you at court. Having representation can hugely reduce the stress and pressure caused by proceedings so please contact us to discuss your case in more detail.
We have proven to be hugely successful at securing excellent results for clients pleading guilty and representation may prove to be the difference between a prison sentence and a disqualification from driving.
We would recommend considering our special reasons page to see if this may apply to your case.
What makes Motoring Defence Solicitors different from the rest?
Being charged with an offence can be a frightening experience but we can help you. Finding the right representative can be a daunting process but we believe that our client-care and success-rate are both market-leading.
At Motoring Defence Solicitors we look at every possible aspect of your case and provide you with thorough and clear advice . We do not bombard you with legal jargon but rather give you an honest and frank opinion about the merits of your case. Our aim is to ensure that you have all the information required to make the best decision for your own case as you are the person that will live with the outcome.
As part of this process we will scrutinise the case against you and look specifically at:
The Strength of the Evidence Against You.
The Prosecution must convince the court that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt and as mentioned above, the threshold for what is considered “dangerous” is high. We know that defendants often plead guilty before seeking advice, possibly because of negative advice at the police station but the evidence against you must be strong enough to prove that you are guilty and this should never be overlooked.
The Prosecution has obligations that they must satisfy when preparing a case and we often see instances where they fail to do this. It is one of your fundamental legal rights to a fair trial and we have successfully argued that the failings of the Prosecution prevent you from enjoying this right. This can often lead to the case being dismissed.
Whether Special Reasons apply
A non-motor law specialist may advise you to plead guilty. Therefore, we would strongly recommend that you contact us to get the most accurate advice.
How Much Does it Cost?
Due to the complexities of the court process and legislation, dangerous driving cases require extensive preparation. The potential consequences of this offence are severe so preparation and keen attention to detail and crucial.
We strongly recommend that you check any insurance policies you currently hold to see if you have any legal protection. Legal Protection (“motor legal protection” or “legal expenses insurance”) is often included in policies as a free add-on and you may not be aware that you have it. If you have this level of cover then the insurance company may be able to provide funding for representation.
Please note that the insurer may claim you must use a firm of their choosing but rest assured this is simply not the case. We are happy to liaise with your insurer on your behalf in order to secure funding if you wish to instruct us.
The costs of representation will vary depending on whether you decide to plead guilty or not guilty. We can provide you with free advice in respect of your plea, so you can make the right decision for you.
If you wish to plead guilty we would not usually expect more than one hearing, however sometimes dangerous driving cases can include a number of hearings before you are sentenced.
Should you wish to defend your case then it may be several months before your case reaches trial and the fees incurred will be influenced by:
- The complexity of the case is; and
- The number of hearings involved/duration of the proceedings
We would only advise you to defend your case if we genuinely believed you had a high chance of success. We can also offer flexible payment plans to try and assist you in respect of funding.
For more detail about the fee structure and payment options available please visit our dedicated costs page here or contact us to discuss your case in more detail.