Forming part of the Road Traffic Act 1988 it is an offence to be guilty of ‘driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention’.
According to the Act, Careless Driving Includes:
Driving a vehicle on a road without due care and attention,
Driving a vehicle on a public road without consideration for other road users.
Driving with due care and attention involves all drivers, whatever their standard of driving or status and expects them to show a reasonable standard of care and attention to the road they are using and to other drivers using that road.
The law is laid down in this way to include all cases of bad driving including those that fall slightly short of reckless driving. A charge of careless driving can be made in many situations, including when there is a lack of attention, judgment or concentration, or due to a mistake being made.
If you are stopped for bad driving, or have been involved in an accident as a result of your road conduct, you may be charged with one of two offences:
Careless Driving:This is when you drive in a way that the police do not believe is representative of a reasonable and careful driver.
Dangerous DrivingThis is when you drive in a way that is hazardous to people or property. Dangerous Driving Offences will not be discussed further in this article, but are listed below:
Manslaughter while driving a vehicle
Causing death by dangerous driving
It is advisable that you contact a solicitor immediately if you are charged with one of the dangerous driving offences above.
What Kind of Things Can I be Charged for Under Careless Driving?
As you can imagine, the list of offences can vary dramatically – someone missing a traffic light turning green because they are singing along to their favourite tune a little too excitedly can end up under the same charge as someone who loses control of their vehicle because they are busy trying to change a CD, or light a cigarette, and hits a traffic post.
So it’s clear that this offence has a large area of definition. Given that it’s virtually impossible to measure ‘due care’, how does a court decide if your actions amounted to careless driving? Whether or not someone has driven carelessly requires someone else to make a judgment and will depend entirely on the particular circumstances of the case.
It has been known for courts to pursue and win cases, where they have claimed that a motorist has driven without due care and attention if their driving has not followed the standard that the court believe would have been exercised by a competent and reasonable driver.
What Happens if I am Charged?
If you are charged with careless driving and you are to be prosecuted, your case will be heard in the Magistrates Court. You should be notified of this within 14 days of the alleged offence.
What Will Happen to me? Will I Lose my License?
The penalty for careless driving can be a fine, between 3 and 9 Penalty Points on your license and disqualification if the court deems it appropriate.
You Mentioned Other Offences Earlier. What are they?
The list of offences under the Road Traffic Act for Careless Driving includes:
Driving without due care and attention – 3-9 penalty points
Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users – 3-9 points
There are other careless driving offences involving drink and drugs, all of which carry 3-11 penalty points and possible disqualification should the court think it appropriate. In these situations the offence will also stay visible on the offender’s license for a minimum of 11 years.
@Andy. If you failed to stop the police will probably take action. If you're actually being stopped you should pull onto the hard shoulder (or side of the road at a safe place if not on a motorway) or find a safe place to stop. Simply slowing down is not sufficient. It may have been that the policeman was telling you not to 'hog the middle lane' ??
NoPenaltyPoints - 26-Mar-15 @ 10:56 AM
@help. You will have to wait until you hear. The police can take action for careless driving if they choose.
NoPenaltyPoints - 26-Mar-15 @ 9:51 AM
@nats. You've not given much detail but if the police considered you were driving too fast for the conditions then they can still prosecute you for a driving offence such as careless or dangerous driving.
NoPenaltyPoints - 24-Mar-15 @ 2:15 PM
I had a motorcycle police officer flash his blue lights and point left with his hand.I slowed down and went to the left lane but then the officer pulled off the motorway at the next junction so I wasn't sure whether to pull off or not (he was not directly ahead of me at this point).I saw the motorcycle come straight back on the motorway so I now realise he must have wanted me to pull off.At no point did I try to accelerate away from the officer, I slowed down to about 50mph.
I want to know how many points I can get for this and if there is anything I can do to preempt police action given that it was a genuine mistake as I've never been pulled over and didn't realise I had to pull off the motorway rather than stop on the hard shoulder, which is what I was going to do.Also, how long does it take the police to send a notice of the incident normally?
Andy - 23-Mar-15 @ 6:01 PM
I was in an accident in the middle of last week - my car skidded, sending me into a verge which then resulted in the car flipping and landing on its roof blocking the whole road. No one was injured and the only damage done was to my car, the police were called and I was asked to recall what happened. What will happen next? Will I receive a letter from the police? I am worried that I could be done for careless driving.
help - 23-Mar-15 @ 3:15 PM
I was involved in an accident in nov14. On a straight country lane, my back end skidded sending me into the path of an incoming lorry.Thankfully I'm alive and I only injured myself. Causing a large amount of damage to my car and also the lorry cab. & months later I still can't walk.I have just recieved a phonecall from the police, saying my phone is clear and so is my car.vi have an interview for my statement next week, but she mentioned, about going to court and it's due care.What will happen? I've never been in trouble & I really don't understand what this means.She said the interview witll be informal but after reading above I'm very worried.Please advise.
Nats - 21-Mar-15 @ 11:08 AM
@Jhasen. Its's probably best to simply attend the course.
NoPenaltyPoints - 3-Feb-15 @ 11:22 AM
I had accident where I hit car from back , it was not serious and the police attended after I called them. After 55 days I received driver alertness course offer What should I do.
Jhasen - 30-Jan-15 @ 2:15 PM
Hi i mistakenly went into the wrong lane for turning right, but then I realised so i didn't turn. That yellow box was for cars coming so I reversed back into my lane which was a main road and there were no cars coming behind me....is that considered dangerous driving
ma - 4-Dec-14 @ 12:40 PM
@Pablo. It's impossible for us to say as each case is different. This will be down to the courts.
NoPenaltyPoints - 14-Nov-14 @ 2:20 PM
II just need to explain a bit of background if I may.Since September last yearmy neighbours have carried out a sustained campaign against my partner & I because of our sexuality. Their son has just been sentenced for 5 offences against us and the parents are facing charges for 6 offences each. During this period we have been threatened directly by the father and also via a neighbour to whom he said "I am going to get those 2 gays at********* (housename). We have installed CCTV with audio.In May this year I was walking along the main road (basically a country lane) from my property to a section of field we own. The neighbour drove out immediately and ran his Land Rover into me spinning me round and knocking me into the hedge, he did not stop. My partner rang the police &I had to go to hospital for treatment.A couple of days later I was interviewed by the police and was able to show them the CCTV which showed me setting off down the lane and my neighbour setting off immediately afterwards. The CCTV showed no other traffic for 30 mins either side of the time I was hit. They surveyed the lane, took photos of my injuries etc.
Two weeks ago I was told by the police that they felt there was enough evidence to bring charges and so he was going to be chargedwith 'failing to stop after an accident' and 'failing to report an accident'. Today however I received a letter from the police saying that, in addition to the two charges he is also being charged for 'driving without due care and attention'.I have done a bit of research but it all seems to relate to involving two vehicles, not a vehicle and a pedestrian.
The first Court date is in December and is when he will plead but I wanted to know, if he is found guilty or pleads guilty, what penalty is he likely to get?
Pablo - 13-Nov-14 @ 2:08 PM
i was convicted of careless Driving it has been to county court in Perth, where I defended this my self. This went against me and I was found guilty, it is now at the stage of pleading hard ship, I'm at the point of giving up on this and just taking the ban but my principal will not allow me to pay a fine so what is the prison sentences I could get
Big trucker - 8-Nov-14 @ 1:07 PM
i was involved in an rta in march 2014, i was turning right when a vehicle hit me driving in the lane i was turning across, there was a large lorry blocking my view and the other drivers view, neither of us had seen each other.Because i was going across the lane the police have charged me with driving without due care and attention.I have just received the summons today, this has taken them 7 months to do this!. Can they do this? also is it best just to plead guilty and will i get fined and received points if i plead guilty
coz - 24-Sep-14 @ 7:45 PM
@jim. It depends on individual courts and solicitor's fees, so it's not something we can put a figure on here.
NoPenaltyPoints - 9-Sep-14 @ 1:40 PM
What are the fees involved if I decide to go to court for driving without due care and attention representing myself and loose?
jim - 8-Sep-14 @ 9:57 PM
@Lar. You'll just have to wait and see. As you say, they did not appear to have any recording equipment, so it's more likely they would have stopped you at the time.
NoPenaltyPoints - 22-Jul-14 @ 11:42 AM
I accidentally ran a red light after everyone had crossed the road thinking it was going back to amber (which it did a matter of seconds later).A police car was waiting to pull out of the next road and I think they must have seen me as they were on the radio.However they did not stop me.Am I still likely to get a penalty without the police stopping me at the time? There were no traffic light cameras.
Lar - 21-Jul-14 @ 5:41 PM
I have received a S172 letter dated 24 June for an alleged driving without due care and for any other offences disclosed (there is no other offences stated in this letter) the date of the incident was 26 April - over 2 months ago - letter doesn't say it's an NIP just asking for driver details - I will return the S172 with my details but I have no idea what I am being accused of I wasn't stopped by police etc. and why has it been 2 months before they have contacted me? I assume it's going to be an NIP as soon as they have the driver details - what can I do? I did have an incident with another driver who didn't see me as he was cutting into my lane because he was on his mobile phone and I blasted my horn at him because he nearly hit me and it scared me, we exchanged a few hand gestures he tried to get me to stop by gesturing me to pull over and trying to drive close to the side of me to get me to pull into the lay by- I had no idea if this guy is going to threaten me or worse so I just kept driving he followed me for half a mile or so and I felt quite scared so when we approached the next island I just drove all the way round it so he was then in front of me I took next available exit and carried on to my destination - there was no contact etc. just hand gesturing and name calling (not that we could hear each other with windows closed but you get the gist) So I can only assume this guy has reported me as I don't think the police would have waited 2 months to contact me - but it's just one of those nonsense incidents that happen occasionally and I don't see how the other driver can report me when he caused the incident in the first place by being distracted on his phone. What will happen next because it's just his version of events versus my version of events and I am amazed that this has gone this far and that it has taken over two months to contact me.Thank you for your assistance.
denb - 27-Jun-14 @ 8:12 PM
accident 17 jan 2014.no nip sent to date?letter dated 25 march 2014 arrived 27 march 2014 entitled,offer and invite letter-an alternative to prosecution.?what prosecution?
na - 5-Apr-14 @ 12:44 PM
when I pull over and another car pull in front of me and 3 people jump out I panic thinking road rage I pulled away at high speed and then chase fear in for my life I was luck to lost the car only too be stop later by a mark police car that the other car was an unmark police car now I am due in court on 26/03/14 for due care and attention I am now unable to get in to my car
geekme - 24-Mar-14 @ 9:43 AM
how long does driving without due care n attention stay on your licence for?
angelina - 24-Dec-13 @ 12:40 PM
i was involved in a rtc on 13th may 2012 ans have recived a summonds for without due care and attention dated 8th november 2012 the letter is franked 23rd november 2012 , how do i stand with regard to the time scale from accident to summonds either the date on summonds or the franked postal date
mike d - 26-Nov-12 @ 12:50 PM
I was driving home and a nother car reported me for cutting a corner they sed I nerley hit them I think I would rember sumthing like that! So enyway police cum to.my door.and say im getting done for driving without due care. It there word against mine can eny 1 help
denzle1986 - 20-Oct-12 @ 11:08 PM
I was parked up making a call to my childminder due to not receiving a message from my partner about dropping her to the childminders house and not the school.. as I drove off I hung up but then the next day received a card through my door form a local PC.
i contacted the station straight away and was told I had to come in for an interview but when I turned up with a solicitor the officer said I did not have to attend an interview.
3 months later I have now received a court date at the end of this monthwith 2 offences:
.using a mobile phone
.driving with due care and attention
Can anybody please give me advise??I was travelling at 5 miles per hour and yes I do take responcibility for my actions but not sure what will now happen.
I have a baby due in november and don't want to panic.
cla - 11-Jun-12 @ 3:02 PM
I was driving my car, when at a junction round about, the lights where red against me. When they changed to green I pulled away, my lane has on the road, markings indicating that this is a streight forward lane the inside lane is a turn left lane the woman on my inside drove streight on and ended up hitting my car. The police road video recorded this and are going to prosicute me for driving without due care and attention. Is this right? she came into my lane
Rog - 27-May-12 @ 8:01 PM
I had an accident basically i swerved a car who come from the opposite side and turned in my way without indicating and i hit a car on the other side what do you think the police will do about my licence
shelly - 22-May-12 @ 3:57 PM
I had an accident on December 25th 2011 about five weeks ago I have been inform by the police that I am now being charged for (driving without due care and attention) can the police do this after nearly 5 months since the accident, the case is Friday 25th may this Friday.Many Thanks
Will - 21-May-12 @ 10:01 AM
8 6 points when can l tell insurance l have no points
auntylav - 30-Mar-12 @ 8:44 PM
I have 8 penalty points which I received on the 3/6/ 2007,when will they be taken off my licence