Dangerous driving solicitors recognise that any allegation involving serious danger or death doesn't just affect the victims, but also the person accused. We take particular care to be sensitive to clients whose liberty and family life are threatened by the prospect of these allegations. In cases involving a death, even if the client is not guilty of an offence, the whole process can be extremely painful.
The Law on Dangerous Driving
The Law in this area is similar to that of Careless Driving. It is the standard of driving which is important. But with the more serious offence, the standard of driving must be far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous. First the court has to decide if the standard of driving is far below that of the reasonable driver, and then it has to decide if it would have been obvious in the circumstances.
Some examples of what the court might regard to be dangerous driving include:
Driving at over 140 mph
Undertaking and weaving between lanes
Consistent lack of attention to the road
Consistent ignoring of road signs and speed limit
Any driving in a vehicle which is considered dangerous
This is not an exhaustive list.
These are aspects of the offence which make it more serious, and include:
Whether the driver was showing off
Previous driving convictions
Long period of bad driving
Mitigating features include:
A momentary lapse
No recklessness or complete disregard for safety
A single incident
Causing Death by Dangerous Driving
If the driving causes the death of another, then the offence of causing death by dangerous driving may have been committed. A specialist dangerous driving solicitor will be aware that the driving does not have to be the only cause of the death, if the driving is at least partially to blame.
The maximum sentence for this offence was increased in 2003 from 10 to 14 years. A driving ban of two years is also mandatory, with a mandatory retake of the driving test to regain the licence.
Momentary very bad driving resulting in death usually results in a shorter prison sentence of less than 2 years. Longer sentences, of between 2 and 5 years, are given where the driving was considerably worse. Sentences of over 5 years are only usually handed out for driving which is extremely or blatantly dangerous.
Causing Serious Injury by Dangerous Driving
This relatively new offence was introduced in response to pressure from road safety groups and it provides the CPS and police with the power to charge motorists whose driving they believe to be the cause of a significant injury to another. This could be another road user, a pedestrian, or even a passenger in their own vehicle.
The prosecution must prove that the actions of the motorist were dangerous and the injury caused to the other party were serious. This could mean broken bones, disfigurement, or even permanent disability. Specialist dangerous driving solicitors will always test the evidence of injury and often instruct defence experts to comment on medical evidence.
Whilst this offence could be tried at the magistrates' court and end in a maximum sentence of 6 months you should expect the matter to go up the Crown Court, especially where the injuries suffered by the other party are particularly serious, or the driving that led to the accident particularly bad.
Causing Death by Careless Driving
Where death has been caused by bad driving, but that driving is not bad enough to be termed ‘dangerous driving' the prosecution may bring a case for causing death by careless driving. This may only be offered in a plea deal at court, and a good defence team should be able to tell when it could be a good idea to negotiate with the prosecution for this lesser charge. A specialist dangerous driving solicitor will be aware that a well-handled guilty plea to causing death by Careless Driving can result in a sentence that does not involve prison.
The need for Expert Witness Reports
It is of importance where any accident involving injury has taken place that full scientific reports are undertaken into the exact cause of the offence.
For causing death by dangerous driving cases, Mary Monson solicitors have direct access to some of the UK's top forensic crash investigators, who can provide full investigations into crashes, and examine crashed vehicles if necessary.
If you are subject to any of the charges discussed above do not lose hope. With careful guidance from an expert dangerous driving solicitor, the outcome could be significantly better than you may have feared.