While this is generally referred to as careless driving, the Road Traffic Act 1988 creates two offences:
- Careless Driving; and
- Inconsiderate Driving.
For offences committed prior to 24 September 2007 the prosecution need to prove that your driving fell below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver in all the circumstances. Additionally, inconsiderate driving would be proved if other persons were inconvenienced as a result of the manner of driving. Breach of the Highway Code is a standard example of driving without due care and attention.
From 24 September 2007 the definitions were updated. For careless driving it is still necessary to show that your driving fell below that expected of a competent driver, but they specifically look at the circumstances surrounding the offence and overall that you either knew or should have known of. For inconsiderate driving they have to show that someone was actually inconvenienced.
As a result of changes to the Highway Code on 28 September 2007 accidents caused as a result of distractions such as smoking, changing a CD/tape or eating/drinking are likely to be prosecuted as careless driving. Without a good explanation you may be convicted based on the results of the driving without further evidence, e.g. where a vehicle collided with a pole or landed in a ditch for no apparent reason.
Do I need an NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) for careless driving?
Yes, there is a requirement for an NIP for careless driving unless one of the exceptions apply. Please go to our NIP guide for further information.
Careless Driving Punishments
Fine up to £2500 (pre-24 September 2007) or £5,000 (24 September 2007 on), 3-9 points and discretionary disqualification from driving. If there are aggravating features the Court may also impose a community penalty, such as a community rehabilitation or curfew order
Defences to Careless Driving
These vary from showing that your actions were reasonable in the circumstances to showing another party may have been at fault.
Successfully relying on a defence is often dependent on identifying relevant facts, knowledge of the law and expertly putting evidence to the Court.
You can be assured that the prosecution will do their best to obtain a conviction and proving your case in Court is never an easy task.
Where we are instructed we would carefully assess the facts of your case, advise you on any possible defences available and prepare your matter for trial. We recommend you seek legal advice if facing this charge.