Driving Without Due Care and Attention | Careless Driving
Driving Without Due Care and Attention
Driving without due care and attention is an offence in accordance with Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
The description according to Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 for the motoring offence of driving without due care and attention is that a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or in another public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using that road or public place.
Driving Without Due Care and Attention
In order for you to be convicted of driving without due care and attention, it is up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were the driver of the vehicle and also that you were driving on a public road or in a public place at the time of the alleged offence and that you were doing so without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users (A public place is any place to which the public have unrestricted access – eg a supermarket car park).
The key question for this offence, is what amounts to driving without due care and attention? There is no statutory definition of what this phrase means, so each case has to be decided based on it’s specific circumstances.
The principle that is generally used is that the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was, at the time of the offence, not exercising the degree of care and attention that a reasonable and prudent driver would exercise in similar circumstances.
This then becomes an objective test. For each separate case the court has to assess whether or not you drove in a manner that a reasonable driver would have driven in the same circumstances.
If the court comes to the conclusion that your driving fell below the standard expected of a reasonable driver then they will convict you for driving without due care and attention.
Distinction from Dangerous Driving.
In order for the prosecution to be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that your driving was dangerous (Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) they must show, again, beyond reasonable doubt that your driving fell well below the standard expected of a reasonable and prudent driver.
In all the circumstances
Often it is possible to demonstrate that due to the circumstances of a particular incident that it would not be fair to suggest that your driving was below the standard expected of a reasonable person.
If you are pulling out of a junction for example and you collide with a vehicle that was exceeding the speed limit then it may well be possible to suggest that even though the speeding driver had the right of way, you should not be blamed for the accident because their excessive speed was the primary cause. In this instance you would have to demonstrate that you had carried out proper observations before pulling out from the junction.
Res ipsa loquitor - The facts speak for themselves
We are often asked how it is possible to be prosecuted for the offence of driving without due care and attention if there are no witnesses to the incident.
It is quite common for the prosecution to show that without an explanation to the contrary, the driver must be guilty of driving without due care and attention, because an accident took place.
The course of action by the prosecution is perfectly legitimate and the court are entitled to convict the defendant unless he or she can provide an account that explains why the accident was not caused by a fall in driving standard.
An additional defence for defending a driving without due care and attention allegation is to demonstrate that the vehicle suffered a mechanical defect at the time of the alleged offence and it was this mechanical failure which directly impacted on the standard of driving.
If the defendant mentions a mechanical defect at the time when they are first spoken to in relation to the incident by the police, then the police are duty bound to disprove any suggestions that the accident was indeed caused by a mechanical defect or failure.
Using a mechanical defect as a defence (as long as you mention it as soon as you are talked to by the police) throws the onus back to the police and prosecution to disprove that the accident was caused by a mechanical defect and they need to be able to disprove it beyond reasonable doubt.
Often vehicles are written off and scrapped by the insurance companies before the police carry out an inspection. Without the police and prosecution being able to ascertain if there was a mechanical defect or not, they can’t disprove your claim of a mechanical defect and the prosecution cannot continue.
A conviction for driving with due care and attention will add 3 to 9 penalty points onto your driving licence. Your will probably also face court costs and a fine.
For the most serious allegations Magistrates can impose a discretionary ban under Section 34 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. This discretionary disqualification of your licence can be for whatever period the court deems appropriate.
Driver Improvement Course.
For the driver, attending a driver improvement course avoids penalty points, court costs and a fine. If a driver is prepared to accept that the standard of their driving did fall below that expected of a reasonable driver then this is a good alternative to a day in court.
The driver will have to pay to attend the course, but the cost is usually less than their fine and court costs would have been.
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Clarke v CPS 2013 EWHC 366 (Admin)
It's not easy to defend a speeding allegation and its becoming increasingly difficult with cases like this.
A new client came to us after being banned by the Magistrates for 6 months. He had accumulated 12 points within 3 years and the Magistrates court banned him for 6 months. The client tried to argue exceptional hardship on his own and the court rejected his argument.
Our client instructed us to represent him at court when he was charged with overloading a hired minibus. He had hired the minibus as he had his extended family visiting for a holiday. At the same time builders were refurbishing his house and asked him if he could help them collect some extra sand and cement. Our client agreed and they went with him to the DIY shop to collect the materials.