Careless Driving (driving without due care and attention) offence

Careless Driving

What is careless driving?

The legal definition of careless driving (driving without due care and attention) is allowing your standard of motoring to fall that below of a prudent motorist. There is no legal definition of "prudent" so each case will be decided on its merits with the Magistrates establishing what standard they expected of a prudent motorist in all the circumstances and whether, based on the facts of this particular case, the Defendant's standard fell below that.

Will I be offered a driver improvement course?

For minor allegations, the Police do have an option to offer a driver improvement course instead of prosecution, but it is entirely at the discretion of the Police. There is no obligation to offer a course and you cannot demand the right to attend.

What is the penalty for careless driving?

Subject to the circumstances of the offence, mitigation etc., the Court guidelines are:

Court Guidelines
Offence Points Ban* Fine
Careless Driving 3–9 Discretionary £200–£5,000
Failing to Stop 5–10 Discretionary £200–£5,000
Failing to Report 5–10 Discretionary £200–£5,000
* If an instant ban is imposed, you will not receive points.

Why am I also being prosecuted for failing to stop / report?

If the careless driving offence arises from an accident / alleged accident, the Police may also prosecute for the offences of failing to stop and/or failing to report, if you did not exchange details at the scene and then failed to notify the Police of the incident within 24 hours.

Will I be banned from driving?

Although most careless driving allegations are resolved by penalty points, in the most serious cases, there is a risk of an instant disqualification.

6 Month Totting Up Ban

If you had valid penalty points at the time of the alleged offence(s), there is a risk of a potential 6 month totting up ban, given that careless driving can result in up to 9 penalty points and failing to stop / failing to report can result in up to 10 penalty points.

Totting Up

Why have I been asked to attend Court in person?

Driving without due care can have serious implications so in many cases, the Court will demand a personal attendance to review the matter in more detail prior to imposing a penalty. It does not automatically follow that disqualification will be imposed but it is an indication that the Magistrates feel the incident is serious enough to consider all options so it is important that if a personal attendance has been demanded, you are fully prepared and your mitigation is as strong as possible.

Attending Court Legal Advice

I have been warned by the Court I face a ban, what can I do?

Even though you have been warned of disqualification, it is quite possible that with the correct mitigation, a ban will be avoided and the matter resolved by way of penalty points and a fine. You need to use the opportunity available to prepare your case thoroughly, not only in relation to the circumstances of the offence but also to address the effects of the potential penalties. It makes sense to seek advice now so that you do not waste the time available.

Notice of Ban Avoid a Ban

Is there a defence?

Although careless driving covers a wide range of potential errors, there are defences available and you will avoid conviction if you can establish that your standard of driving was acceptable. For example, if you can persuade the Court that "in the agony of the moment" a prudent motorist is likely to have reacted in the same way, there may be a defence, even if those actions resulted in an accident.

What if I did not know I was involved in an accident?

There is a potential defence to failing to stop / failing to report if you can establish that you were genuinely unaware of being involved in an accident and thus could not have known of your obligation to exchange details or refer the matter to the Police. However, if you are successful on this defence, it could result in you being convicted of the careless driving allegation as most Courts will conclude that a prudent motorist would not be unaware of their involvement in an accident. Clearly, the situation needs to be addressed carefully and we recommend that you seek advice at the earliest opportunity.

Legal Advice