It is an offence for a person to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other such public place dangerously.
(Road Traffic Act 1988 s2)
The definition of the offence of dangerous driving is wide because it is not just relation to motor vehicles but any mechanically propelled vehicles, furthermore it can take place in any place to which the public has access, not just public roads.
Never forget, the burden of proving dangerous driving rests squarely on he shoulders of the prosecution, not the defendant. It is our job to expertly and carefully examine and exploit any failing or loophole in the prosecution case or law to secure an acquittal.
Dangerous driving is defined in S2(A)(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988. A person is guilty of dangerous driving 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
the prosecution may also say dangerous driving is due to the condition of a vehicle if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in it’s current state would be dangerous.
The offence of dangerous driving has to be distinguished from the less serious offence of careless driving because to be guilty of dangerous driving the standard of driving has to fall FAR below the standard of a competent driver.
On this point alone there is often strenuous legal argument by the defence team as to the level at which a person has been charged. Obviously the prime aim of any defence is to secure an acquittal but if this is not possible, we would always use every effort to have the level of charge brought as low as possible. This is where a skilled advocate can argue that, for example, the driving was not dangerous, merely careless which can obviously significantly reduce the penalties.
There are two aspects to the offence of dangerous driving that the prosecution have to prove. Firstly that the standard of driving fell far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver. Secondly it also has to be shown that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
As your defence team we would make no concessions to the prosecution and ensure that they comply precisely with the requirements of proving dangerous driving.
The standard of driving required is the same for all drivers irrespective of their experience. Therefore the standard is the same for a learner driver as it would be for an experienced, professional driver.
If there has been a road traffic accident the prosecution may call expert accident investigators to try to prove dangerous driving. Do not believe that such evidence cannot be attacked or undermined. It can. we are experts at cross examining witnesses and sometimes expert cross examination of a witness can have devastating effects upon the value of their evidence.
Also in the preparation of your defence, we would consider if it is necessary to locate and instruct an expert accident investigator on your behalf to counter any prosecution evidence. Just because you have had a car crash doesn’t mean you are absolutely guilty of dangerous driving. You may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for what happened. You need our expertise in presenting this explanation to the court when you face an allegation of dangerous driving.
There are several situations that may give rise to a defence to dangerous driving. These are technical legal arguments and require a detailed knowledge of the law if they are to prevent a conviction for dangerous driving. The prosecution lawyer will usually use his skill and knowledge to argue against any defence and you will therefore require this to argue your defence. To try to do this yourself is not advisable as without the specific legal knowledge you will almost certainly fail.
You may have a perfectly acceptable reason for driving in the way you did or it may well be open to argument that the driving simply was not dangerous. There are even cases, for example, where people have been affected by medication they have take. To mount such a defence to dangerous driving will require skilled legal argument by us as lawyers and persuasive medical experts to confirm the medical condition in question. It should be noted that a conviction for dangerous driving will not be avoided if the loss of consciousness is in any way the fault of the driver. For example a self induced capacity through drink or drugs will not prevent a conviction for dangerous driving.
As defence lawyers we accept little of the prosecution case on face value and we look at your side of the story in detail. You may face an allegation of dangerous driving having taken prescription drugs that caused you to have a crash. It may be that driving after taking these was not a reckless thing to do as a person would not normally fear adverse effects. We would locate and instruct medical experts on your behalf to establish your argument and try to avoid a conviction for dangerous driving.
There are also situations where the defence of duress can apply to dangerous driving. A person may have driven a car in a dangerous way due to fear or threat. This is a technical legal area and to mount this defence you need our help.
It is also now accepted that ‘necessity’ can be a defence of dangerous driving. You may feel you had no choice but to drive in the manner you did. Again detailed knowledge of the case law is essential. By instructing us you gain access to this knowledge to give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction of dangerous driving. There are situations where dangerous driving is permitted by the law but these are very limited and will require powerful argument by us, in court, on your behalf.
Dangerous driving is an offence that can be heard in either the Magistrates or Crown Court. the case can be tried by the Magistrates Court if both the court and the defendant agree. If not, the case will be tried before a jury in the Crown Court.
Dangerous driving allegations may be sent to the Crown Court for trial if any of the factors below are present
alcohol or drugs contribute to the dangerous driving
grossly excessive speed
prolonged course of dangerous driving
- other related offences
- significant injury or damage is sustained
if the defendant wishes to keep the case at the Magistrates Court, where the maximum penalties are lower and the proceedings more informal, we would use every endeavour to argue this.
The purpose of any defence to dangerous driving is to obtain an acquittal. If this is not possible it may be open to us to argue, on your behalf, that you should face a less serious charge of say, careless driving, which can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court and attracts lower maximum penalties.
In the crown court, the maximum penalty for dangerous driving is 2 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a minimum obligatory driving ban of 1 year. Before a full driving licence can be re-instated, the defendant will have to take an extended driving test.
If the case is heard in the Magistrates Court, the maximum penalty for dangerous driving is 6 months imprisonment, a maximum fine of £5000 and a driving disqualification.