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Careless Driving

The offence of driving without due care and attention, or careless driving as it is sometimes known, is committed when the standard of a person’s driving falls below that expected of a competent and careful driver in all the circumstances.

This charge can often be raised following a road traffic accident, but this is not a requirement. Likewise, simply being involved in a road traffic accident does not necessarily mean that you were careless.

There is no definitive list of actions deemed to be careless driving but common examples include;

  • Driving at an inappropriate speed for the conditions
  • Undertaking other vehicles
  • Tailgating (driving too close to the vehicle in front of you)
  • Poor lane discipline and pulling out in front of other vehicles
  • Carrying out other tasks whilst driving (i.e. eating or reading)
  • Being distracted when driving (i.e. by other passengers or things outside the car)
  • Not indicating

Acts considered to be careless could also lead to charges of driving without reasonable consideration when it is shown that other persons using a road or public place are inconvenienced by the manner of the defendant’s driving.

Another related offence is that of driving whilst not in proper control which is when a driver is in a position which does not given them proper control or a full view of the road and traffic ahead. Someone who is careless may be in control but someone not in control is deemed careless.

There is a distinction to be drawn between careless and dangerous driving and it is essentially a matter of fact and degree. Whether a Defendant is guilty of careless driving is an objective test for the Courts to decide.

Driving without due car and attention is considered a serious allegation as it can result in prosecution at court and on conviction can carry anything from 3 to 9 penalty points or even result in a driving disqualification as well as a financial penalty. Very modest offences could be dealt with out of court through the offer of a place on a driver improvement course of a 3 point fixed penalty.

Sentencing Guidelines

Maximum: Level 5 fine


Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification, impose 3 – 9 points

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