Dangerous driving is an all too common offence which can be occasioned by two separate definitions. Firstly where the driving falls far below the standard of a safe and competent driver, this is judged in line with whether a safe and competent driver would recognise the driving as dangerous. Secondly is if the state of the car is obviously dangerous, regardless of the competency of the driver. These definitions make perfect sense since failure to comply puts others in danger. The danger which the driving causes need not relate to people but can also be putting property at risk.
If you are to be prosecuted for a dangerous driving offence you will be issued with a Notice of Intended Prosecution, which unless exceptions apply must be issued to you within 14 days after the alleged offence. Although previously it was found there was no legal obligation to reply to the Notice of Intended Prosecution it now appears this loophole has closed and consequently they should now be responded to.
Dangerous driving is a criminal offence which is triable either way meaning it could be heard in the Magistrates or the Crown Court depending on its seriousness. If you face prosecution in the Crown Court the sentencing powers are fairly extensive with a possible maximum custodial sentence of 2 years, an unlimited fine, mandatory disqualification and an extended test should you wish to regain your licence. In the Magistrates Court for lesser offences the maximum prison sentence is 6 months. Fines are limited to GBP 5000 and possible disqualification from driving.
Many factors are considered in determining the seriousness of any offence, both aggravating and mitigating ones. Aggravating factors make the offence more serious and are mostly common sense considerations such as whether the driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, what speed they were travelling at, and whether they were unduly distracted (e.g by using a mobile phone). Mitigating factors making the offence less serious include things like; a good previous driving record, the absence of prior convictions, remorse and an early guilty plea. Obviously all of these factors and considerations relating to dangerous driving differ on a case by case basis due to the many different circumstances and considerations which may exist.
Consequentially it is a good idea to obtain the advice of a solicitor on the specific issues of your case – particularly when you consider a possible custodial sentence, fine and revocation of your driving licence is at stake, not to mention the flowing implications that could have and the criminal record which would ensue! It may also be that you are able to plead a complete defence to the incident such as if you were acting out of duress (in this instance where there is unlawful pressure on you to drive dangerously) or necessity (where you had to drive dangerously in the circumstances due to another’s indiscretion). A specialist solicitor will be in the best position to advise you of where you stand in relation to all these issues but hopefully you will never find yourself in such a position!
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