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Driving Without Due Care and Attention

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Introduction

Marko is an HGV qualified driver who drives for a living.  One day he was off work and was driving his wife’s small car in the weekday rush hour.  He was on a roundabout signalling left to join an M25 slip road when a BMW cut in front of him from the third lane to take the exit before him.  He gently dabbed the brake.  The van driver behind Marko exploded with rage believing that Marko had ‘brake-checked’ him.  As Marko took the exit the van driver tailgated him, blowing his horn with his headlights on.  Marko accelerated but the van driver closed the gap aggressively until he was only inches behind.  Marko panicked, indicated right and slowed down rapidly and moved to the right of the lane as he came to a halt on the slip road just before it joins the M25.  He was trying to give the van driver room to pass him on the inside.  The van driver stopped immediately behind him as there wasn’t enough room for him to pass on the inside (as the nearside lane was congested).  The vehicles behind the van driver came to a halt in turn.  A few seconds passed before all the vehicles were shunted forwards into each other (the last vehicle hadn’t allowed adequate stopping distance and shunted into the back of the queue causing all of the others in front of him to collide with each other).

The Aftermath

Both lanes of the slip road came to a halt.  Angry drivers decamped from their vehicles and, taking their lead from the van driver, sought to blame Marko.  The police were called.  The officer watched the van driver’s dash cam footage and concluded that Marko had brake-checked the van driver (without realising he had braked due to the BMW which had cut in front of him).  The officer concluded that Marko should not have stopped on the slip lane when he could have continued onto the M25.  Marko found himself being held responsible for a multiple pile up on an M25 slip road in the rush hour.  He was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. 

The Consultation

Marko was worried that he would be held to blame and that he would lose his licence and his job. Although he lives in Essex he wanted to instruct a specialist motoring offence lawyer. He contacted Kent Traffic Law. We arranged a face-to face consultation. Marko sent across the prosecution evidence which included the dash cam footage of the van driver as well as the witness statements obtained by the police. This included a statement Marko had made. Marko was advised that stopping on the slip road in the rush hour without leaving adequate room for vehicles to pass meant that he should consider tendering a ‘Guilty’ plea to the offence of driving without due care and attention even though he had been placed under considerable pressure by the van driver. He was advised that the pressure under which he had been placed by the van driver amounted to ‘mitigation’ rather than providing a ‘defence’ in law to the charge. He was advised how to complete the Single Justice Procedural Notice in the light of this advice.

The Single Justice Procedural Notice

The Single Justice Procedural Notice provides those who wish to plead ‘Guilty’ with the option of either attending court for sentence or being sentenced in absence.  The latter option has the proviso that if the court is considering a disqualification from driving that the case would be adjourned to require the presence of the Defendant (as the courts’ policy is not to disqualify motorists, given the consequences can be so severe, in their absence).  Given that Marko would lose his job if he was to be either disqualified or to have his licence endorsed with 6 or more penalty points he opted to attend court for sentence.

The Hearing

The severity of Marko’s sentencing would depend upon whether the court accepted that he was put under intense and unjustifiable pressure by the van driver and that panic caused him to block the slip road rather than a wish to frustrate and delay the van driver.  This, in turn, would depend upon the defence analysis of the dash cam footage being accepted by the court.  I, therefore, typed out an account of the critical events shown on the film.  At court I handed the Magistrates copies of the written analysis and required the court to play the footage on a large screen several times.  I sought to illustrate that the van driver’s account to the police was false and that, in fact, it had been the BMW driver, the van driver and the driver who had failed to stop at the back of the queue, between them, who had, in the main, caused the accident.

The Sentencing

The court accepted the Defence submissions in full.  They made a finding of ‘Special Reasons’ and, although Marko was convicted upon his own ‘Guilty’ plea, his licence was not endorsed with any penalty points nor was he fined nor ordered to pay any prosecution costs.  Essentially the court had accepted the defence contention that Marko was a victim of the poor driving of others and of the  van driver’s road rage.  Marko was thrilled with the outcome stating that,

‘I should have come to you sooner even before I had made my written statement to the police.  I am thrilled with the outcome.  Thank you.’

Conclusion

Even a relatively minor failure to meet the notional standards expected of the ordinary competent driver can result in a prosecution for driving without due care and attention. Such cases carry the threat of either 3 penalty points being endorsed or of an immediate disqualification.  For those who depend upon their driving licences for work this can often mean lossof livelihood with all that that entails. Of course, if they already have existing penalty points endorsed on their licences this can mean they could be at risk of a penalty points disqualification.  Thus it pays to take the matter seriously from the outset as expert advice could mean either avoiding conviction or, as with Marko, avoiding the worst consequences of conviction.  It should be bourne in mind that Marko’s result was exceptional as the court made a finding of ‘special reasons’.  However, mitigating the penalty to best effect will often mean that the worst consequences of a conviction can be avoided (such as, for example, avoiding a disqualification and keeping the number of points endorsed lower).

If you, or your family member, is facing a prosecution for driving without due care and attention, or some other charge that carries the risk of a disqualification, and you would like to know what can be done don’t hesitate to get in touch.  There is no charge for an initial call to receive provisional guidance which might just be

the difference, in the end, between a disqualification or saving your licence.

Request A Telephone Review (at no cost to you)

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