Driving Without Due Care / Careless

What is driving without due care and attention?

Driving without due care and attention (also known as inconsiderate and careless driving) is defined as:

Allowing your standard of driving to fall below that of a prudent motorist.

Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988

The offence will typically arise following an accident or some incident where driving is believed to be particularly poor, for example, undertaking, cutting up other vehicles. The offence can also be used for high speed offences or traffic light / zebra crossing / level crossing offences where the Police believe that the incident is more serious than would be punished by any other allegation.

What if I believe I was driving in a prudent manner?

There are potential defences to driving without due care and attention, but each case will depend on the exact circumstances. Part of the problem is that there is no legal definition of a prudent motorist, so the Court will need to consider what would reasonably be expected of a prudent driver at the time of the incident. If you can persuade a Court that a prudent motorist would have done the same as you, or in the agony of the moment, your actions were reasonable, there may be a viable defence. It is therefore sensible to discuss the issues and options before you decide on your Plea / how to deal with the Court process. Even if there is no defence, appropriate mitigation could significantly reduce the potential penalty.

What is the penalty for driving without due care?

The Court guidelines are subject to the circumstances of the offence, mitigation presented etc., to impose 3-9 penalty points plus a fine from £200-£5,000. In serious incidents, the Court has the option to impose an immediate disqualification.

Can I request a driver improvement course?

If the case has been progressed via a Single Justice Procedure Notice, there is no option for a driver improvement course. The Police have already concluded that the incident is too serious for anything but referral to Court and the penalty is now at the discretion of the Court.

Why is the penalty range so wide?

Driving without due care and attention is a "catch all" allegation and can be applied for the most minor error to an incident that is so serious, that it is bordering on dangerous driving. As a result, the Court can impose between and 3 and 9 penalty points or an instant disqualification, depending on how serious the Court believes the offence is and what mitigation is presented. It should be borne in mind that many issues that you feel are of no consequence may be regarded by the Court as serious aggravating factors that could drastically increase the penalty.

Is careless driving the same as dangerous driving?

No. These are two completely different offences. Dangerous driving is far more serious and is defined as allowing your standard of driving to fall so far below that of a prudent motorist that it is obviously dangerous. The minimum penalty is an immediate 1 year ban on conviction. Driving without due care / careless driving covers a much wider range of less serious errors which is why the Court has greater discretion when imposing a penalty.

Why should I seek legal advice?

Driving without due care and attention can be applied to almost any error committed by a motorist. As a result, there is a significant range of penalties to include potential disqualification and a fine. If you admit the offence, the mitigation you present can greatly influence the outcome. If you are unsure about your Plea, seek advice so that the circumstances of your specific offence can be fully clarified, and the options explained.