We’ve all heard of careless driving, AKA driving without due care and attention. We also tend to lump this offense in with the others, like drink driving and speeding, but careless driving is a little bit more vague than other driving offenses.
A careless driving allegation can only stand if the prosecution can prove that your driving was indeed below the minimum standard expected from a careful and competent driver and that you weren’t showing consideration for other vehicles and pedestrians.
Almost a matter of opinion
The definitions of careless driving are pretty much open to interpretation; there isn’t a strict or set list of actions that could land you in hot water for careless driving. Contrast this with speed limits and blood alcohol limits…
Examples of careless driving include…
Leaving a side junction and going into the path of another car, scraping another vehicle while driving slowly in a car park, not wearing sunglasses in bright sun, lighting a cigarette or eating while driving and middle lane hogging. You can also be prosecuted for careless driving if you have a minor prang with another car.
Fixed penalties for careless driving
In August 2013 the police were given extended powers to give drivers fixed penalty offers for careless driving, which caused a bit of controversy at the time.
You actually don’t have to accept the penalty if you don’t agree with it – it’s not like a definite measured speed, for example. If you disagree with the allegation, or you believe you have mitigating circumstances, you can challenge the allegation in court.
What usually happens in court is that specialist motoring lawyers examine the evidence and the technicalities of the police prosecution and present your defence to the court – usually before a magistrate. The magistrates will listen to both sides and decide whether your driving did fall below the minimum expected standard or displayed a lack of care for other road users.
As mentioned before, most other driving offences involve definite measurements – speed, blood alcohol and so on; but careless driving prosecution and defence involves gathering witness statements and even an accident reconstruction report.
Contesting your careless driving allegation
If you decide to fight your case in court, your legal team will examine the evidence and the strength of the prosecution’s case to decide whether you have a chance of winning. Even if there are several witness statements supporting the allegation, a good legal team can find inconsistencies that will weaken the prosecution’s case.
If you decide to plead guilty
Even if you know your driving was careless and you regret your actions and intend to plead guilty, you should still have legal representation in court to make sure you get a fair hearing.
Penalties for careless driving can include three points on your license, but some offenses can lead to nine points or even disqualification. Your legal team will make sure that you get the lowest penalty possible and can help you to avoid disqualification if this is a risk.