You've just been taken over by the police, and as you're being charged with dangerous driving, you feel a gut wrenching spasm as you contemplate the consequences of being convicted of such a serious road traffic offence. You are not exactly sure the penalty for it but intuitively you know it will be severe. In fact your intuition has served you well – the mandatory penalty is a minimum 12 month disqualification and you will also require to re-sit an extended driving test. For many people this is unthinkable as their job depends on their license – and their house, family and finances depend on their job. Insurance premiums go through the roof and any disclosure request by prospective employers will not look so pretty. It's at this juncture you need an expert road traffic lawyer to steer you off the road to hell.
Many dangerous driving prosecutions can be resolved by negotiating a lesser charge with the plaintiff such as a careless driving charge or even a charge of speeding. These offsections are much more palatable and most often result in penal points being approved on your license instead of a disqualification. Speeding carries a range of penal points between 3 to 6 and careless driving between 3 to 9, depending of course on the seriousness of the offense and your previous driving history. The court has a discretion to induce disqualifications for careless driving and speeding but both offenses would have to be extreme or the driver's driving record poor.
There are of course a number of outright defences to dangerous driving including defences of a technical nature such as a failure of the police to carry out correct procedures when charging you. On many occasions the police evidence does not bear scrutiny and on other occasions the facts alleged by the prosecution do not amount to dangerous driving.
You might ask what the definition of dangerous driving is. Well it's provided in s2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 as a standard of driving that falls far below that of a careful and competent driver, and that such a driver would be aware of that. It's defined therefore as a standard of driving rather than any reference to a specific manner of driving. Accordantly it comes in various guises. It can amount to speed alone where a driver drives so fast it is obviously not taking account of potential dangers which could arise where for example he passes other road users at twice the speed limit. Dangerous driving can amount to a serious error of judgment which may or may not cause an accident such as overtaking round a blind corner in heavy rain. It can amount to a dangerously dangerous act such as deliberatively driving the car at someone or performing stunts in a car. Serious cases can result in a prison sentence particularly something of this nature.
The offer has to be committed on a road or other public place which although is broadly defined, it's surprising what is excluded. The court could still consider however whether the offense amounts to culpable and reckless conduct.
At the most serious end of the spectrum ie where as a result of a death occurring as a consequence of bad driving the Crown can prove a charge of causing death by dangerous driving. This offense can be further aggravated by an allegation of being under the influence of drink or drugs at the time. These cases are prosecuted in the High court and lengthy prison sentences upon conviction are most likely even for first offenders.
While each case has to be determined on its own facts and circumstances, there are a vast number of reported cases which have been decided in the appeal court over the years, which provide invaluable guidance to what constituents dangerous driving. It's far from a straight forward process however as reported cases can often be inconsistent with each other and no two cases are exactly the same. It is vitally important that an expert road traffic solitor is intended from an early stage who possesses the necessary skills and drive to prepare and investigate your case and effectively and procedurally argument all legal points in your favor.