Motoring offences

Our specialist motor offence solicitors can advise you on all aspects of motoring and road traffic law throughout England and Wales.

We assist our clients in defending against an array of driving offences from the most minor motoring offence to those arising from fatal driving accidents. We pride ourselves on attention to detail and have specialist experience in the following areas:

  • speeding;
  • failure to provide driver details;
  • passing a red light;
  • drink driving;
  • penalty points disqualifications;
  • no insurance;
  • mobile phone offences;
  • careless driving;
  • dangerous driving;
  • failure to stop or report; and
  • causing death by careless or dangerous driving.

If you are facing a potential prosecution for a motoring offence, it is essential to take legal advice as early as possible. We provide free telephone advice to those who have received a “Notice to Owner” or a “Notice of Intended Prosecution”. We can also act for organisations whose employees are facing prosecution for a driving offence.

We also offer fixed or capped fees for most of our driving offence services.

We are used to responding on an emergency basis where necessary, particularly where we are called to advise at the police station during interview.


Death by dangerous driving

Causing death by dangerous driving is a serious offence and has a high risk of imprisonment, if convicted.

Causing death by dangerous driving is an offence contrary to section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If you have been accused of causing death by dangerous driving it is important you obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Death by dangerous driving is undoubtedly the most serious road traffic offence and cases such as these will always be heard in the Crown Court and a jury will decide the outcome.

To convict someone of causing death by dangerous driving the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the driving in question fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and that it would have been obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous. They must also prove that the dangerous driving was the cause of the death. The defendant’s driving does not need to be the sole, primary or even significant cause of the death.

Sentences for death by dangerous driving

A person found guilty of causing death by dangerous driving faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 14 years and a minimum of two years disqualification. In our experience, a death by dangerous driving case can last up to two years from the date of the offence until the date of the trial.

Death by careless driving

Section 2B Road Traffic Act 1988 offence creates the offence of causing death by careless driving.

This is a less serious offence than causing death by dangerous driving but one that is far more common. If you have been accused of causing death by careless driving it is important you obtain legal representation as soon as possible.

Death by careless driving sentence

Unfortunately motor vehicles can be lethal if not driven properly and a momentary lapse of concentration could result in a driver facing a charge of death by careless driving.

A person found guilty of causing death by careless driving faces a maximum of five years imprisonment and a minimum disqualification of 12 months.

In order to convict someone of causing death by careless driving the prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the standard of driving fell below that expected of a competent and careful driver. Whilst a death by careless driving case can be tried in either the magistrates’ court or the crown court it is frequently heard in the latter because of the nature of the case.  

Dangerous driving

Under section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence to drive dangerously. To be able to convict someone of dangerous driving the prosecution must show beyond reasonable doubt that the driving in question fell far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver. It should be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

Examples of dangerous driving include:

  • racing or competitive driving;
  • disregarding warnings from passengers;
  • driving when too tired to stay awake;
  • reading a newspaper or map whilst driving;
  • using a hand-held mobile phone or other hand-held electronic equipment whilst driving at speed;
  • aggressive driving.

Dangerous driving penalties

In the magistrates court a dangerous driving offence carries a fine of up to £5,000 and/or six months imprisonment. In crown court, the maximum penalty for dangerous driving is two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.

Whether the case is heard in the magistrates’ court or the crown court, the court must disqualify the defendant from driving for no less than a year and order an extended retest, unless “special reasons” are established for not disqualifying. This means that someone who is convicted of dangerous driving will not be able to return to driving until they have served a ban and successfully completed a more challenging version of the driving test.

Careless driving

A careless driving offence is committed when the defendant’s driving falls below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver.

Examples of careless driving include:

  • overtaking on the inside;
  • driving inappropriately close to another vehicle;
  • emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle;
  • inadvertently driving through a red light;
  • being inattentive to the road whilst tuning a radio; and
  • being inattentive to the road whilst lighting a cigarette.

For a section 3 Road Traffic Act 1988 offence the maximum penalty is a £5000 fine and the guideline fine is the equivalent to 125% – 175% of the relevant weekly income of the driver. The court must also either impose between 3 – 9 penalty points on your license or impose a ban from driving for any defined period.

Inconsiderate driving

Inconsiderate driving is a similar offence to careless driving. To convict someone of inconsiderate driving the prosecution must show, beyond reasonable doubt, that the individual concerned drove without reasonable consideration for other persons and have inconvenienced others by their driving.

Examples of inconsiderate driving include:

  • flashing of lights to force other drivers in front to give way;
  • misuse of an inappropriate lane to avoid queuing or gain some other advantage;
  • unnecessarily remaining in an overtaking lane;
  • unnecessarily slow driving or braking without good cause; and
  • driving with un-dipped headlights which dazzle oncoming drivers.

The maximum penalty is £5000 and the guideline fine is the equivalent to 125% – 175% of the relevant weekly income of the driver.

Speeding offences

Speeding allegations have become a part of many drivers’ experience in recent years and those who drive for a living are most vulnerable. Receiving summons for a speeding offence can be detrimental for many, especially if it means that you risk losing your license.

Caught speeding?

Even the most careful of drivers are susceptible to incurring penalty points for speeding. The continued rise of the speed camera, average speed camera and hand held radar gun have resulted in more and more people receiving penalty points as a result of a speeding offence.

Speeding penalties

The courts can impose between three and six penalty points on your licence depending upon the seriousness of the offence. They can also, if they deem it appropriate, order a period of disqualification between 7-56 days. If you have received summons for a speeding offence you are also likely to be fined.

If you already have nine penalty points on your licence you will be summonsed to court if you are alleged to have exceeded the speed limit again. This is because the court will have to consider whether to disqualify you and if so for how long.

The minimum period of disqualification if you accumulate 12 penalty points within a three year period is six months. However, this can be increased to one year if you were previously disqualified for 56 days or more within the three years immediately prior to the date of the latest speeding offence.

Speeding offences, particularly where fixed cameras are involved, can be technically complex.  We advise on the following:

  • proper receipt of a “Notice to Owner” or a “Notice of Intended Prosecution;
  • taking reasonable steps to identify the driver;
  • “All reasonable steps” defences;
  • calibration and correct operation of fixed and mobile cameras;
  • challenging cases by use of expert evidence; and
  • “Exceptional Hardship” arguments.

Failure to stop or report an accident

Section 170 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence for a driver to fail to stop or to report an accident.

Sentencing for failing to stop or report an accident

If your car is involved in an accident you must stop at the scene and give your details to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for them. If you do not stop then you must report the accident as soon as you can and in any case within 24 hours of the accident.

Failure to stop or report an accident is considered a serious motoring offence. The penalties for each offence include a maximum fine of £5,000 and 5 to 10 penalty points. The court also has the power to disqualify you from driving for either offence. The maximum sentence for this offence is six months imprisonment where there has been serious injury or evidence of dangerous or careless driving.

Driving without insurance

Driving a vehicle without insurance is a serious offence and if you are in this position it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest stage.

Driving uninsured

It is compulsory for a vehicle to have at least third party insurance in place if it is to be used on a road or other public place. You can also be liable for being uninsured if the car is parked in a public place or on a road without insurance or if you have given your car to an individual who is not covered under your insurance and is not insured themselves.

Penalties for driving without insurance

The maximum fine for driving without insurance is a £5,000 and the court must impose a disqualification or between six and eight penalty points. The offence is contained in section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Aggravating features of driving without insurance that will amplify the offence include being involved in an accident, never having passed a test, evidence of sustained uninsured use and giving false details.

Case studies

Speeding offence

A sales executive for a national high street chain who drives 40,000 miles a year was facing disqualification having been summoned to court for a speeding offence when he already had nine penalty points on his licence.

Having discussed the case with our client it became apparent that his was a case where it was appropriate to make an exceptional hardship argument for the client due amongst other things to the fact that his car was clearly a tool of his trade.

The Magistrates decided having heard the evidence that a disqualification would not be appropriate in the circumstances and awarded penalty points and fined the client but decided not to disqualify him.

Causing death by careless driving: motorcycle collision

We acted for a professional who was facing an allegation of causing death by careless driving. Our client was alleged to have carelessly turned right in front of a motorcycle resulting in a collision resulting in the death of the motorcyclist.

The case turned on the question of why our client had been unable to see the motorcyclist before committing to the turn. Through careful consideration of the evidence and instruction of an appropriate expert we were able to persuade the jury after a five day trial that our client’s driving had not fallen below that which would have been expected from a competent and careful driver in the circumstances.

Our client was badly affected by the accident and distressed that an accident he had been involved in had resulted in the death of another person. The verdict, however, reflected the fact that this was a tragic accident.

Causing death by careless driving – DVD reconstruction

We acted for a client who was on his early morning commute to work when he rounded a bend and hit an elderly pedestrian. Our client faced an allegation of causing death by careless driving.

The prosecution case relied on an expert report produced by the police together with DVD reconstruction evidence. The matter had been listed for a three day trial but following analysis of the DVD and our own expert evidence we were successful in persuading the Crown Prosecution Service to drop its case against our client.



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