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Driving without due care and attention ( Careless Driving )

Definition - Careless Driving

This offence is committed when the standard of driving falls below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver. Circumstances taken into account include those shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused as well as those of which s/he could have been expected to be aware. The standard is a notional one in that many motorists probably commit some minor driving error each time they take to the road. However, in a prosecution the focus is solely on the driving of the accused and whether it can be said that his / her driving fell below that of the competent and careful driver (even if only momentarily). The related offence of driving without reasonable consideration occurs when one motorist’s driving inconveniences another. This offence is used to cater for very minor matters such as jumping a queue or splashing a pedestrian by driving through a puddle, for example.


Careless driving offences can take many forms. Typically motorists who are in a minor scrape, such as knocking the wing mirror of another vehicle, through to more serious cases such as coming off the road altogether, might find themselves charged with this offence. If an accused pleads, ‘not guilty’, then the Crown will try to prove that the standard of driving fell below that of the competent and careful driver. The defence, on the other hand, is likely to contend that it did not. Thus, there is likely to be a dispute as to the facts. It should be noted that simply showing that another driver was at fault does not amount to a defence to the charge.

Not Guilty Pleas

If a Defendant pleads, ‘not guilty’, there will be a trial in the Magistrates’ court. The prosecution case will be prepared by the police and presented in court by lawyers for the CPS. They will not proceed with a case unless they believe they are likely to secure a conviction. Unless the defence also instructs a lawyer there will most definitely be an inequality of arms. This does not mean that one cannot defend oneself only that one’s chances of an acquittal will be markedly less unless the Defendant fully understands the relevant law and procedure as well as how best to represent him / herself in court.


If convicted the accused can expect to have between 3-9 penalty points endorsed on his / her driving licence as well to be fined. The range of penalty points is to take account of the wide variation in terms of seriousness covered by this offence. In a grave case the court may simply disqualify instead of endorsing points. Of course, if points are endorsed they will be added to any other relevant points on the accused’s driving record. If the total reaches 12 or more then a penalty points disqualification would normally be imposed.

Depending on a range of factors including the gravity of the offence, whether it was admitted or denied, the driving record of the accused and so on the Defendant could well face loss of licence. So, if you are accused of this offence you may wish to improve your prospects of saving your licence by obtaining expert advice to guide you all the way from the start of the prosecution and how to plead all the way through to preparing for the court hearing itself.

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