Causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving
Causing Death by Careless or Inconsiderate Driving is an extremely serious offence. The maximum penalty is up to 5 years in prison.
Not everyone convicted of causing death by careless driving will go to prison. It will depend on the circumstances of the case and the person involved.
The Police treat collisions involving fatalities differently from other driving offences. They will want to interview those involved, and it is essential you get legal representation. What you say at an interview may be used against you, and this can make a substantial difference to the outcome.
Our specialists have experience in representing motorists accused of causing death by careless and dangerous driving. We have secured not guilty verdicts and avoided custody for the driver accused.
We will liaise with your insurance company without charge and explore if there is cover in place to cover our fees. Being accused of such a serious driving offence causes a lot of stress, and we will do our best to keep that to a minimum.
Our fees are transparent and very competitive for those who must pay privately.
You will have one allocated solicitor throughout your case and will be assigned a Specialist Motoring Offence Barrister to handle your court hearing. No paralegals or unqualified advisers will be used for your very important case.
What is Causing Death by Careless Driving?
The definition is set out in Section 2B Road Traffic Act 1988. It is easier to understand if we break the offence down into two parts:
A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention (careless driving) if:
the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver
The court must have regard not only to the circumstances of which he (the competent and careful driver) could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within his knowledge.
Further information including examples of driving without due care and attention can be found on our careless driving page.
The Careless Driving Caused the Death
In many cases, whether the driving caused the death is not in issue. However, where the driver is not involved in a direct collision, or the driving sets off a chain of events, it is not so straight-forward. The law states that:
The driving does not have to be the sole cause of death, nor even a substantial one, but it does have to be a cause
Where causation is in dispute, it can be a complex issue.
In virtually all cases involving a fatality, the police will instruct a collision expert to produce a report. The defence may then ask a different expert to comment on whether he or she agrees with the conclusions in the report.
Causing Death by Careless Driving is an 'either way' offence. This means it can be heard by either the Magistrates or the Crown Courts.
It will begin in the Magistrates' Court, and at the first hearing, a decision will be made about which court should deal with the case.
The maximum penalty in the Magistrates' Court is six months' imprisonment and or an unlimited fine. In the Crown Court, the maximum is five years imprisonment, plus an unlimited fine.
The offence is subject to a mandatory disqualification from driving of at least one year. The court has the discretion to order a driving re-test.
There are specific court sentencing guidelines which set out the range of penalties — a list of factors which the court should take into account when sentencing is provided. The guidelines can be found here.
The cases which may not result in custody are typically those where the driving involved only a momentary lapse of concentration, with no aggravating features. The lowest penalty suggested by the guidelines is a low-level community order.
The court will determine each case on its facts, taking into account the circumstances of the driver.
An aggravating factor may lead the court to conclude that a higher penalty should be imposed.
Examples given in the guidelines include:
- Where there are other offences committed at the same time, such as driving other than in accordance with the terms of a valid licence; driving while disqualified; driving without insurance; taking a vehicle without consent; driving a stolen vehicle
- Previous convictions for motoring offences, particularly offences that involve bad driving
- More than one person was killed as a result of the offence
- Serious injury to one or more persons in addition to the death(s)
- Irresponsible behaviour, such as failing to stop or falsely claiming that one of the victims was responsible for the collision
The above list is not exhaustive.
The Court must balance these against any mitigating factors
A mitigating factor or matters of personal mitigation may lead the court to conclude that a lower penalty should be imposed.
Examples in the guidelines include:
- The offender was seriously injured in the collision
- The victim was a close friend or relative
- Actions of the victim or a third party contributed to the commission of the offence
- The offender’s lack of driving experience contributed significantly to the likelihood of a collision occurring and/or death resulting
- The driving was in response to a proven and genuine emergency falling short of a defence
The above list is not exhaustive.
The Court must balance these against any aggravating factors
This will be decided at the first hearing which will be in the magistrates' court. The magistrates or presiding district judge will hear representations from the prosecution about where the case should be heard. The defence can also make representations.
The court will then make a decision about whether the case should be heard in the crown or magistrates court.
If the court decides that the case is suitable for a magistrates' court, you still have the choice to elect for the case to be heard in the crown court. You need to take legal advice before making this decision as there are pros and cons of either venue.
If the court decides that the case should be dealt with by the crown court, you cannot choose to have it heard in the magistrates' court.
If you are facing a driving allegation involving a fatal collision or serious injury, please get in touch today and we will help you secure the best outcome.