Dangerous driving is often seen as the most serious of road traffic offences and even instances of dangerous driving that do not involve a fatality or serious injury can still result in a custodial sentence being considered on conviction. Otherwise, a conviction can result in an unlimited fine based on the defendant’s income or community penalties such as unpaid work.
The offence carries a minimum disqualification from driving for at least 12 months which is accompanied by the requirement to take an extended re-test.
Dangerous driving is described as an “either way” offence which means either the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court can hear the case depending on whether the magistrates decide that their sentencing powers are insufficient to deal with the matter or the defendant elects to have a trial before the jury in the Crown.
To secure a conviction for dangerous driving, the prosecution must prove that the manner of driving fell far below the standard of a competent and careful driver.
They must also prove that the driving is likely to cause danger of personal injury or serious damage to property. It is a high standard of proof in comparison with driving without due care and attention.
Whether someone’s driving falls into this category is a matter of fact and degree for the Court to decide and many factors must be taken into account such as road conditions, the expertise of the person alleging dangerousness and the conduct of other road users.
It is an area of law that is often incorrectly charged so it is crucial that expert advice is obtained at the earliest opportunity to give an accused person the best chances of wither negotiating a plea to a lesser charge or even securing an out and out acquittal.
Maximum when tried summarily: Level 5 fine and/or 6 months custody
Maximum when tried on indictment: 2 years custody
Must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months. Must order extended re-test.
Must disqualify for at least 2 years if the offender has had 2 or more disqualifications of 56 days or more in preceding 3 years.
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