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Driving Solicitors News

15 Mar 2021

Tayside Police in Scotland arrested a man charge after police caught him putting himself and others at “huge risk” with no tyre whatsoever on one of his car’s wheels. Tayside Police in Scotland tweeted an image of the entirely bare metal wheel, confirming the vehicle has been banned from the road. The Tayside Police’s tweet read:

“This vehicle was stopped by Road Policing officers yesterday (Wed, 17 Feb), being driven on the A9 near Perth. The driver has been charged with dangerous driving, and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal. The vehicle has been prohibited from being used on the road.”

The Scottish public prosecutor has the power to issue fiscal fines. Inspector Greg Burns, of Tayside Road Policing Unit, said: “This vehicle should not have been driven in the condition it was in. The man put himself and other road users at huge risk by driving the car in this condition. He was missing a tyre and it is lucky that no-one was hurt.” Inspector Burns confirmed that “It is a driver’s responsibility to ensure that their vehicle is safe to drive and if it’s not, then don’t drive it.”

In this case, driving with a non-existent tyre would fall under the driving behaviour of driving whilst knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault which would satisfy section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. In this blog, we will be going through the offence of dangerous driving as well as other offences that relate to dangerous driving.

The Offence

Receiving a dangerous driving charge is the most serious motoring offence that can be committed without causing death or injury. The offence of dangerous driving is listed in section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. But what driving behaviours or actions would establish the charge of dangerous driving? Dangerous driving behaviours are defined as behaviours that:

“falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driving, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.”

But are there any examples of these dangerous behaviours? Examples of these driving behaviours include:

  • Racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively,
  • Ignoring traffic lights, road signs or warnings from passengers,
  • Overtaking dangerously,
  • Driving under the influence of drink or drugs (this also includes prescription drugs),
  • Driving while unit including having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking required prescription drugs or being fatigued,
  • Driving whilst knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault or an unsafe load,
  • Driving whilst distracted, using a hand-held mobile phone, lighting a cigarette, looking at a map etc.

Other Charges Related to Dangerous Driving

There are also various other charges that are related to dangerous driving. For example, did you know that if an individual’s actions in some way result in another driver committing a dangerous driving offence, the initial driver may also be charged with a dangerous driving offence. Offences of this nature fall in three separate categories. They are:

  1. Aiding, abetting, counselling, or procuring dangerous driving.
  2. Causing or permitting dangerous driving
  3. Inciting dangerous driving

Another offence that is linked to dangerous driving is the offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving. This is a relatively new offence which was introduced in December 2012. This offence was introduced to create a sort of middle ground between the least and the most serious driving offences. The offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving carries a more serious penalty than just dangerous driving, but the penalties are not as severe as causing death by dangerous driving. “Serious injury” has been defined DPP v Smith [1961] AC 290 as physical harm which amounts to grievous bodily harm (see section 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861).

The last offence which is linked to dangerous driving is wanton and furious driving. This offence is unusual and is generally used to prosecute offenders who have caused bodily harm through driving in a way that other dangerous or careless driving offences cannot be applied to. The wanton and furious driving offence dates from 1861, but has been used against non-motor vehicles, such as cyclists and horse carriages etc.

In February 2016, then eighteen-year-old Charlie Alliston was charged with the offence of manslaughter and causing bodily harm by wanton and furious driving after he knocked over and consequently killed a female pedestrian, Kim Briggs (aged 44) with his bicycle. Alliston was later cleared of manslaughter in August 2017 but was imprisoned for eighteen months for wanton and furious driving.

Penalties

If a driver is convicted of dangerous driving, the driver will automatically receive a ban for a minimum period of twelve months. The driver may also be ordered to take a retest before being allowed to drive again. Dangerous driving offences will be dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, depending on the seriousness of the case.

The penalty points for the offence of causing death by dangerous driving is three to eleven penalty points on your driving licence. But this only applies if you are not disqualified which is rare.

Defences

There are many different possible defences that can be used against a dangerous driving charge.  Here is a list of just a few of the various defences you could use against a dangerous driving charge.

The first possible defence is that the driver can dispute that their driving was below the standard of the competent and careful motorist. However, this defence does come with its own dilemmas. Even if this dispute is successful, this defence may not prevent the driver from being convicted for the lesser offence of driving without due care and attention.

The second possible defence would be necessity or duress which means that the driver was experiencing pressure which forced the driver to drive dangerously. A common pressure for this is fleeing from a threat of violence or an actual assault. Another possible defence is if the driver’s vehicle has a previously undiscovered mechanical fault that has caused the driver to lose control of the vehicle.

The third possible A different way of defending this charge is arguing that the driver’s vehicle was suddenly deprived of control by sudden illness and/or a medical condition, for example a sudden coma or epileptic fit. However, it is key to note that a loss of control through a known pre-existing condition will not usually provide a defence and might in fact make matters worse for the driver’s sentencing.

The fourth is a highly unusual defence as it involves the driver participating in an authorised motoring event. However, with this defence the likelihood that the police would not be aware of an authorised motoring event is unlikely so if using this defence, ensure that the motoring event is authorised with the correct authorities.

Again, these are only examples of some defences that could be used. Due to the complexity of applying the law to the facts of each individual case, these defences should be discussed fully with one of our fully qualified solicitors to ensure the best defence is chosen for your case.

How can we help?

If you have been charged with the offence of dangerous driving, we are here to help. We can provide our expert defence team to represent you in court and help you avoid a potentially damaging criminal record.

We will look at all the facts of the accusation and decide what defence against theft is the best defence for your case. This will also include everything from the facts of the case all the way to whether your actions actually amounted to a criminal act.

Our team of litigators and advocates have many years of experience analysing complex factual scenarios and applying them to often novel areas of law ensuring we get the best possible results for our clients. Please do not hesitate to call us on 020 8158 9007 or email us on info@criminaldefencesoliticors.co.uk to get expert legal advice for you and your case.