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What is a Careless Driving Offence?

December 6, 2016 by in category Careless Driving, News with 0 and 0
Home > News > Careless Driving > What is a Careless Driving Offence?

How Well Do You Know The Highway Code?

It’s a situation that many people may be unfortunate enough to find themselves in…

It’s an early morning, you’ve got the children ready for school and you’re running late for work. You haven’t had chance to have breakfast so you thought you’d grab and go. You decide to drink your flask of coffee whilst driving and have a bite of your toast. The next thing you know, you’re pulled over by the police and informed that you will be reported for careless driving. Your instant reaction is “But officer, I was just eating my breakfast quickly before work as I’ve been running around after the kids this morning”… well unfortunately for you, any breach of the Highway Code, however minor, could lead to a prosecution for careless or inconsiderate driving.

Careless Driving Offence

Rather unhelpfully, the legal definition of careless driving has a somewhat wide interpretation and there is no set list of exactly which driving errors or manoeuvres would land you in the dock with a prosecution for this offence.

‘Careless driving’ is when someone:

  • drives a vehicle, such as a car, motorbike or a truck;
  • on a public road and
  • has neither consideration nor any regard for other road users, such as fellow motorists or pedestrians

In other words, the driving falls below the standard of the competent driver.

The offence is also known as driving without due care and attention and inconsiderate driving.

When was the last time you read the Highway Code?

Take a moment and have a think if any of the following actions could amount to careless driving:

eating food careless driving offence

Eating or drinking at the wheel

Applying makeup whilst stationary in traffic

Lighting a cigarette while driving

Lighting a cigarette

Operating a sat nav or reading a map whilst driving

Operating a sat nav or reading a map whilst driving

Scraping another car in a car park

Failing to give way at a junction

Lane hogging

Travelling at an inappropriate speed

It may come as a shock to you that all of the above could give rise to a prosecution for this offence!

What happens next?

If you are reported for careless driving there are two ways in which your case can proceed:

  1. Fixed Penalty Notice – The Police have powers to issue a fixed penalty notice which can be accepted or challenged. If you accept the notice your licence will be endorsed with penalty points and you would be required to pay a fine. However, if you disagree with the careless driving allegation, you are free to challenge the matter through the courts.
  2. Summons – If the matter is considered more serious so that the police are unable to issue a  fixed penalty of 6 points for your actions, or you have decided to challenge the fixed penalty notice then you will be required to attend court on the given date. The court would then ask whether you plead guilty or not guilty to the offence.If you plead not guilty a date will be fixed for your trial and the Magistrates would hear your case on the given date. They will look at all facts in the case to determine your fate.If you plead guilty, your driving licence will be endorsed with penalty points (anything from 3-9 points for this offence) and you are liable to pay a fine.

If you are concerned at the idea of a momentary breach of the Highway Code could lead to such serious consequences, it’s not all doom and gloom. We have many tactical defences that we can add to the mix if you choose to instruct us to represent you. Nevertheless, our advice is don’t eat your breakfast whilst driving to work in the morning!

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