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Will I Be Banned For Careless Driving?

Facing an allegation like careless driving is a frightening experience. If you are disqualified from driving how will it affect you? Will you still be able to do your work, and if not how will you be able to pay the mortgage or your rent?  How can you continue to visit your loved ones if you are banned from driving? 

What does careless driving mean? 

Careless driving is also known as driving without due care and attention and comes under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This offence means that the standard of driving has fallen below that of a competent and careful driver. 

What are examples of careless driving?

Careless driving, or driving without due care and attention, is very broad. It covers many minor misdemeanours, such as being in the wrong lane at a roundabout, or driving too close to the vehicle in front, right up to motoring bordering on dangerous driving. More serious examples tend to involve an accident at speed with another vehicle.

How will I know if I am accused of careless driving?

You may have been stopped by the police at the time and told of your wrongdoing. However, if this wasn’t the case, and there wasn’t an accident, then the registered keeper will receive a Notice Of Intended Prosecution through the post. The police have 14 days from the date of the careless driving offence to serve this on you. Accompanying this there will normally be a request for driver’s details. You must comply with this form by naming the driver or you will be pursued for the offence of failing to identify the driver.

Can I stop my careless driving offence going to court? 

If the careless driving was fairly minor you may be offered a driver improvement course or a fixed penalty. If you take one of these options up then your matter will not go to court. However, you should only accept either of these if you are guilty of the offence. Concerning a course, you will not be able to do this if you have already done one within the 3 years preceding the date of the offence. You will have to pay about £150 but if you complete the course you will not have to go to court, will not receive penalty points and your insurance premiums would normally not increase. If you accept a fixed penalty you will receive 3 penalty points on your licence and a £100 fine.

How should I reply to a Single Justice Procedure Notice for careless driving?

If your driving without due care and attention matter moves from the police to the courts it must do so within 6 months of the date of the offence. Normally, in such a case you will receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice in the post. You must respond to this within 21 days. You will need to reply either saying you are guilty (and whether you want to attend court) or not guilty of the careless driving offence. Your matter will then go before one magistrate (the Single Justice) and their legal advisor in your absence.

If you have replied to the Single Justice Procedure Notice saying you are not guilty your matter will be listed for a trial by the Single Justice. If you have chosen to respond saying you are guilty and want to attend the court the matter will again be listed for a hearing for you to appear at. If you are guilty of a minor careless driving offence, and do not want to attend court, then the Single Justice will often sentence you by imposing penalty points.

If the offence is more serious then the Single Justice will normally put your matter over for a full hearing, before magistrates, to consider disqualification. However, in such a case you may still be able to avoid going to court by writing a letter, ideally with the help of a solicitor, to the Single Justice. Such a letter would normally ask for leniency and request that the Single Justice deals with the matter by imposing penalty points.

How will I know if I have to attend court for careless driving?

If the Single Justice decides that you need to come to court you will receive, in the post, a court hearing date and time. If you don’t attend this hearing then the court may sentence you in your absence.

Can I get legal aid for driving without due care and attention? 

It is advisable to have a solicitor to represent you if you have a hearing for careless driving. Unfortunately, you will have to pay privately for a lawyer because legal aid is not usually available. 

What is the penalty for careless driving?

The sentencing powers for the offence of careless driving, or driving without due care and attention, are very broad. The magistrates can impose between 3 and 9 penalty points or disqualify you for as long as they see fit. A disqualification is normally reserved for more serious offences where there has perhaps been an accident involving another vehicle. There is also an unlimited fine. The worse the driving the more serious the penalty will usually be. 

If I receive penalty points for careless driving could I lose my licence?

This depends how many penalty points you had on your licence at the time of the careless driving offence? If the magistrates impose enough penalty points to take your total to 12, or more, then you will be banned from driving for at least 6 months unless you successfully argue Exceptional Hardship. To do this you would have to attend court and persuade the magistrates that if they disqualify you then you, and others, would suffer more hardship than normal.

What if I commit a careless driving offence and I recently passed my test?

You are classed as a new driver for the first two years after you passed your driving test. This is known as the probationary period. What happens if during this time you drive without due care and attention, or commit another motoring offence? If the sentence that the magistrates impose takes your total amount of penalty points to 6, or more, then you will have your licence revoked. This means that you will have to resit and pass your driving test before you can drive again. If you are a new driver and there is a danger that you may reach 6 penalty points then it may be a good idea to instruct a solicitor. Your lawyer can ask the magistrates if they would impose a short ban rather than penalty points. If they agree to this then you will be able to drive again as soon as the period of disqualification is over without having to resit your test.

Should I plead not guilty to careless driving?

It is never advisable to plead not guilty to any allegation unless you have a good defence. If you lose a trial then your sentence will be worse than if you had pleaded guilty early on. You will also have to pay towards the prosecution costs of bringing the matter to trial.

What defences are there for driving without due care and attention?

The most common defence for careless driving is that your driving didn’t fall below that of  a competent and careful driver. Here you may need to argue that the prosecution witnesses are simply wrong in what they say happened. Another possible defence for careless driving is that there was a mechanical fault with the vehicle you were driving that you couldn’t reasonably have been expected to know about.

What is the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving? 

As has been mentioned, careless driving, or driving without due care and attention, is where the driving falls below that of a competent and careful driver. Dangerous driving is where the driving falls far below that standard. The penalty for dangerous driving is much worse than careless driving and can result in a prison sentence.  

Will I get a criminal record for careless driving?

You will not receive a criminal record for careless driving. However, if the matter reached the courts and you are found, or plead, guilty you will have a criminal conviction.

Should I use a solicitor for my careless driving offence?

Do you need a solicitor? This is a question that is often asked. This is a complicated area of the law. It is often difficult to decide whether you should plead guilty or not guilty to careless driving. Here, at Speeding Law Solicitors, we are very skilled at identifying potential defences. If your matter goes to trial we will greatly increase your chances of being found not guilty. If you have to plead guilty we can help save your driving licence. We offer very reasonable fixed fees so you know exactly where you stand financially.

Call us now

Our leading solicitor, Philip Hatvany, has consistently received 5 star Google reviews from very satisfied customers. Ring him on FREEPHONE 0800 909 8110 for free initial advice.