Careless Driving (drive without due care and attention) (Revised 2017)

Road Traffic Act 1988, s.3
Effective from: 24 April 2017

Triable only summarily
Maximum: Unlimited fine
Offence range: Band A fine – Band C fine

Step 1 – Determining the offence category

The Court should determine the offence category using the table below.

Category 1      Higher culpability and greater harm

Category 2      Higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm 

Category3       Lower culpability and lesser harm

The court should determine the offender’s culpability and the harm caused with reference only to the factors below. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

CULPABILITY demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating higher culpability

  • Excessive speed or aggressive driving
  • Carrying out other tasks while driving
  • Vehicle used for the carriage of heavy goods or for the carriage of passengers for reward
  • Tiredness or driving whilst unwell
  • Driving contrary to medical advice (including written advice from the drug manufacturer not to drive when taking any medicine)

Factors indicating lower culpability

  • All other cases

HARM demonstrated by one or more of the following:

Factors indicating greater harm

  • Injury to others
  • Damage to other vehicles or property
  • High level of traffic or pedestrians in vicinity

Factors indicating lesser harm

  • All other cases

Step 2 – Starting point and category range

Having determined the category at step one, the court should use the appropriate starting point to reach a sentence within the category range in the table below. The starting point applies to all offenders irrespective of plea or previous convictions.

 Level of seriousness Starting Point Range Disqualification/points
Category 1 Band C fine Band C fine Consider disqualification         OR  7 – 9  points
Category 2 Band B fine Band B fine 5 – 6 points
Category 3 Band A fine Band A fine 3 – 4 points
  • Must endorse and may disqualify. If no disqualification impose 3 – 9 points

The court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors. The following is a non-exhaustive list of additional factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the sentence arrived at so far.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

  • Previous convictions, having regard to a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence; and b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction
  • Offence committed whilst on bail

Other aggravating factors

  • Failure to comply with current court orders
  • Offence committed on licence or post sentence supervision
  • Contravening a red signal at a level crossing

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation

  • No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions
  • Remorse
  • Good character and/or exemplary conduct



In order to prove dangerous driving, the Prosecution must show that driving fell 'well below the standard required of a competent driver.'  Again, this is open to interpretation.  Dangerous driving is an offence which is 'triable either way.'  This means that it can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court or the Crown Court.  Whether a case remains in the Magistrates Court or proceeds to the Crown Court will depend (in the first instance) on the 'likely sentence.'  Even where Magistrates feel that the matter is within their sentencing powers (6 months maximum for one offence and 12 months for two either way offences), you can elect or 'choose,' Crown Court trial if you wish to have a trial in front of a jury.  

Excessive speed can (without more) amount to dangerous driving.  If you are convicted (found guilty) of dangerous driving, you will be subject to an obligatory disqualification and have to take an extended re-test before you will be permitted to drive again.  You will also be at risk of a custodial sentence.

If you are charged with Dangerous Driving, you should be legally represented.  If you want to discuss this further, call Coral on 07790 356069.


Dangerous Driving - Sentencing Guideline

Please note that where the guideline notes 'Crown Court,' this means that custodial sentences in excess of 6 months are envisaged.  Make sure you are legally repesented for this offence - 


Offence seriousness (culpability and harm)

A. Identify the appropriate starting point

Starting points based on first time offender pleading not guilty

Examples of nature of activity Starting point Range
Single incident where little or no damage or risk of personal injury Medium level community order

Low level community order to high

level community order Disqualify

12 – 15 months

Incident(s) involving excessive speed or showing off, especially on busy roads or in built-up area;


Single incident where little or no damage or risk of personal injury but offender was disqualified driver

12 weeks custody High level community order to 26 weeks custody Disqualify 15 – 24 months
Prolonged bad driving involving deliberate disregard for safety of others;



Incident(s) involving excessive speed or showing off, especially on busy roads or in built-up area, by disqualified driver;


Driving as described in box above while being pursued by police

Crown Court Crown Court