It is an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention. (Road Traffic Act 1988 s3)
This motoring offence actually has a very wide definition. The driver does not have to be driving a motor vehicle but any mechanically propelled vehicle and the offence can take place not only on public roads but any other place to which the public has access. As dedicated defence lawyers we will not shy away from questioning, exposing and exploiting any weakness in a prosecution case against any of our clients who face an allegation of careless driving.
You may ask yourself how do the courts decide if your driving amounts to careless driving. Courts have held that a person will have driven ‘without due care and attention’ if his driving has departed from the standard of care and skill that would, in the circumstances of the case, have been exercised by a reasonable, prudent and competent driver.
It is quite clear that given the wide vehicle definition of careless driving you will need a skilled advocate to argue to a court on your behalf, that the driving in question was of the required standard and does not amount to careless driving (driving without due care and attention).
As in all motoring offence cases it is up to the defence lawyer to carefully examine the prosecution case and exploit any weakness or failings. Also we expertly prepare and present the defendants point of view to argue that the driver is not guilty of careless driving. Clearly given the potential difficulties you should always instruct a traffic offence specialist.
A thorough examination of the facts by an expert may reveal a defence to careless driving. For example there may be circumstances where a person was under some kind of threat or fear that caused him to drive in the way that he did. With a skilled advocate this could amount to the defence of duress, which would avoid a conviction for careless driving.
A driver may lose control of a vehicle due to malfunction of the vehicle. Usually to avoid a conviction for careless driving, an expert engineer would be called by us, on your behalf. This again could avoid conviction for careless driving.
There are also situations out of the control of the driver which cause him to technically be guilty of careless driving but not be convicted. It is a very gray area as to whether ‘necessity’ is a defence to careless driving and you should seek our advice upon this issue.
If you are to be prosecuted for careless driving, this will be heard in the Magistrates Court. To be prosecuted you must be notified of the possibility of prosecution within 14 days of the alleged offence.
When you face an allegation of careless driving you really do need a skilled advocate acting on your behalf. The prosecution have to prove that you were driving and the manner of your driving. As to whether that driving fell below the required standard as to amount to careless driving, will be the subject of much argument in court. We do not advise that you try to go toe to toe with a skilled prosecution advocate. Call us.
If there has been a road traffic accident and this has led to a prosecution for careless driving, the prosecution may call a police officer if he is an accident investigator. In order to avoid a conviction for careless driving not only would we, on your behalf, thoroughly cross examine the officer, but we may also locate and call our expert examiner to counter what an officer is saying.
Do not forget that to obtain a conviction for careless driving the burden of proof is on the prosecution. If we raise a defence on your behalf it is for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that it is not good. Expert preparation and presentation by us will make life as hard as possible for the prosecution in this situation.
The maximum penalties following a conviction for careless driving are a fine, obligatory penalty points of between 3 – 9 and the court has a power to disqualify at it’s discretion. It is our job firstly to secure an acquittal if possible and, if not, to ensure that any penalty imposed is kept to the absolute minimum.