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Dangerous Driving Allegation

Dangerous Driving Allegation


Dangerous driving is arguably the most serious offence a motorist can face and one that can attract the most severe penalties which can include a prison sentence. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988 a person will be regarded as driving dangerously if:


  • The way he drivers falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver; and
  • It would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous


Unfortunately, there are cases of dangerous driving that result in a fatality so if you are facing an allegation of causing death by dangerous driving we strongly urge that you contact us as a matter of urgency to obtain free advice which may differ to what is outlined below depending upon the circumstances.


Unlike most road traffic offences, dangerous driving is classed as an “either-way” offence. This means that the case can be heard in either the Magistrates’ or Crown Court depending on how serious it is.


The more serious cases will be escalated to the Crown Court which has greater powers when it comes to sentencing and you could face up to two years in prison. If it is decided that your case should remain in the Magistrates’ Court then the maximum penalty the court can impose is 6 months imprisonment and a 2 year disqualification. This decision is not always in your hands yet the venue is hugely significant due to the disparity in the sentencing powers of each court.


Wherever the case is heard the wording of the offence means it is easily open to interpretation and argument. The facts of each case our specialists have dealt with and the way they are presented have made a huge difference to the end-result.


This allegation can arise out of or as part of other offences and examples of dangerous driving can be:


  • Aggressive driving or racing
  • Overtaking manoeuvers that are not considered safe (particularly undertaking)
  • Knowingly driving a vehicle in an unsafe condition (worn tyres, excessive loading etc)
  • Being significantly distracted whilst driving (e.g. eating, using a telephone or radio, reading a map etc)
  • Disregarding traffic signals


This list is not exhaustive and each case is brought on its own merits which are considered by the police and the Prosecution before a charge is made.


Being an “either way” offence means that the court process is more complicated than in those cases that can only be dealt with by the magistrates’ court but our motor law specialists have extensive experience in conducting cases of this nature so please contact us to discuss your options.


You can read more about how the courts assess seriousness and aggravating factorson their respective pages.


Defending the Allegation


As stated previously, the wording of the act makes it open to interpretation and argument so driving that one person considers dangerous may be viewed differently by someone else. Stating that the standard must fall “far below” what is expected from the “careful and competent” driver creates a high threshold and we often find that allegations of dangerous driving can be reduced to the lesser charge of careless driving.


Cases of dangerous driving rarely involve technicalities and largely focus on the facts. Witness testimony is crucial in cases like this and little evidence is safe from challenge.


At time, allegations of dangerous driving arise from a “heat of the moment”-type scenario where a disgruntled motorist (whether a civilian or a police officer) has been inconvenienced as a result of your driving. At the time, the circumstances can seem severe but when you take a step back and look at the facts objectively the case can seem less serious than originally thought.


If you do not think that you have driven dangerously you can choose to defend your case and we would strongly recommend specialist representation due to the complexities involved. Court proceedings can be lengthy and our specialist team can guide you through this process and offer support at each stage of the case.


Pleading Guilty


If you accept that you have driven dangerously you may decide to plead guilty to the allegation in which case the proceedings become largely about damage limitation.


The proceedings to plead guilty to dangerous driving can still be more complex than for most road traffic cases due to the severity of the potential penalties and we want to help you navigate the court process and secure as positive a result as possible.


The proceedings can be a daunting prospect but we offer a fixed fee to prepare comprehensive mitigation and provide an experienced barrister to represent you at court. Having representation can hugely reduce the stress and pressure you suffer as a result of the proceedings so please contact us to discuss your case in more detail.


Our specialists have proven to be hugely successful at securing excellent results for clients pleading guilty and representation may prove to be the difference between a prison sentence and a disqualification from driving.


We would recommend considering our special reasons page to see if this may apply to your case.




Due to the complexities of the court process and legislation, dangerous driving cases require extensive preparation. The potential consequences of this offence are severe so preparation and keen attention to detail and crucial.


We strongly urge you to check any insurance policy you have for “Legal Expenses Insurance” or “Motor Legal Protection” as if you have cover in place there is a chance your insurer will agree to cover the cost of your case.


If there is no insurance available then you will need to pay privately for representation and the total cost of your case could be between £10’000 - £20’000 + VAT if you decided to defend your case.


Why Instruct Duncan Lewis Solicitors?


The vast majority of our clients walking away from court with their licence intact or a significantly lower penalty than they expected.


Road Traffic Law is a niche and specialised area of criminal law. There are only a handful of firms with genuine expertise in this area. If you instruct us to help you, we rigorously scrutinise every aspect of your case in an effort to secure you a successful result.


For the prosecution to secure a conviction, they must be able to prove that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt and that your standard of driving was dangerous (as opposed to careless for example).


There are Duncan Lewis offices nationwide in England and Wales – and a criminal defence solicitor from Duncan Lewis can usually reach a client at a police station or court within 45 minutes. 


Duncan Lewis Motoring & Driving Offence Solicitors – When to contact us


Duncan Lewis Motor Law advise clients who may face prosecution for a road traffic offence to contact us as soon as possible, especially if a Notice of Intended Prosecution has been issued. 


A member of the Duncan Lewis motoring offence team can attend police interview under caution – and our motoring law department regularly advises new drivers, experienced drivers and professional drivers on road traffic offences, including dangerous driving.


Call Duncan Lewis Motor Law on 020 7923 4020 for expert legal advice. For 24/7 help at a police station, call the Duncan Lewis Emergency Hotline on 0207 275 2036.


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