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.
Please help I recently got caught by an unmarked police car with my phone in my hand but the fine didn't come through my door until 5 weeks later! Somebody told me they have to notify you within two weeks , is this true ?
If you were stopped at the time, that is in effect your NIP (which is what has to be issued within 14 days). Afte the NIP is issued there is in fact up to 6 months to take necessary action.
NoPenaltyPoints - 27-Aug-15 @ 2:13 PM
tdw83 - Your Question:
I am due in court on weds for driving with undue care and attention and for carrying 2 extra people on my bus than I was legally allowed. I hit a low bridge, I had 80 seated people and 2 standing. Even though there was a sign inside the bus saying that I was allowed 47 seated upstairs, 33 downstairs and 7 standing, whicH totals to 5 more than the amount I had on.I was not notified within 14 days of the offence that I was being taken to court. I was notified nearly 4 months later. In those 4 months I received no correspondence from the police or the courts.The low bridge warning light/alarm on my bus was not working and the low bridge signs were not clearly visible.I need my licence to work. If they take away my licence they take away my ability to work and therefore take away my ability to pay the fine that I know I am going to receive. I already have 3 points on my licence. I am looking at a ban or is there any way that I may get only a maximum of 8 points and keep my licence?
We don't have the full facts but if you were carrying the legal number of people then they should not be able to prosecute you on that angle. As for the low bridge alarm...is it your responsbility to check this? If so, that may be a sticky one to argue. We assume you were interviewed at the time of the incident so the 14 day rule will not apply. We suggest you seek the help of a motoring lawyer to get the best possible outcome in court.
NoPenaltyPoints - 26-Aug-15 @ 11:01 AM
I recently got caught by an unmarked police car with my phone in my hand but the fine didn't come through my door until 5 weeks later! Somebody told me they have to notify you within two weeks , is this true ?
Lee - 25-Aug-15 @ 8:36 PM
louise - Your Question:
I've received a letter from the police requesting drivers details for my vehicle stating it was involved in anoffence under driving without due care and attention.The incident happened last saturday and basicaly I changed the lanes and my front right hand side of the car scratched somebody's passenger side of car because she had some speed trying to get that spot on the lane.what it is going to happen now? I am going to get some points on my licence or I am going to appear on Court?Thank you
This kind of offence will usually attract between 3 and 9 penalty points depending on the exact nature of the offence.
NoPenaltyPoints - 25-Aug-15 @ 10:18 AM
I am due in court on weds for driving with undue care and attention and for carrying 2 extra people on my bus than I was legally allowed.
I hit a low bridge, I had 80 seated people and 2 standing. Even though there was a sign inside the bus saying that I was allowed 47 seated upstairs, 33 downstairs and 7 standing, whicH totals to 5 more than the amount I had on.
I was not notified within 14 days of the offence that I was being taken to court. I was notified nearly 4 months later. In those 4 months I received no correspondence from the police or the courts.
The low bridge warning light/alarm on my bus was not working and the low bridge signs were not clearly visible.
I need my licence to work. If they take away my licence they take away my ability to work and therefore take away my ability to pay the fine that I know I am going to receive. I already have 3 points on my licence. I am looking at a ban or is there any way that I may get only a maximum of 8 points and keep my licence?
tdw83 - 23-Aug-15 @ 10:05 PM
I've received a letter from the police requesting drivers details for my vehicle stating it was involved in anoffence under driving without due care and attention.
The incident happened last saturday and basicaly I changed the lanes and my front right hand side of the car scratched somebody's passenger side of car because she had some speed trying to get that spot on the lane.what it is going to happen now?I am going to get some points on my licence or I am going to appear on Court?.
louise - 22-Aug-15 @ 10:01 AM
Efcggerman - Your Question:
Hi, I have been in court today charge with careless driving, I'm in my first 2 years of driving. I pleaded guilty and was given a £502 fine and 7 points. Then the court returned my licence and paper counterpart and said you can have this back as you are not disqualified. Have they made a mistake as I believed 6 or more points would be an automatic disqualification?? Confused
Hi,I have been in court today charge with careless driving, I'm in my first 2 years of driving. I pleaded guilty and was given a £502 fine and 7 points. Then the court returned my licence and paper counterpart and said you can have this back as you are not disqualified. Have they made a mistake as I believed 6 or more points would be an automatic disqualification?? Confused
Efcggerman - 18-Aug-15 @ 2:53 PM
@KD. We really can't say as we don't know what kind of camera it was.Usually traffic camera are set up to react automatically to a variety of offences, especially speeding and traffic light offences. Other cameras may beANPR (Automatic number plate recognition) for tracing stolen vehicles and those without road tax/insurance etc. Sometimes traffic cameras are simply there for monitoring traffic movement.
NoPenaltyPoints - 4-Aug-15 @ 11:48 AM
I was driving down the road in bright daylight when I thought a turning into a shopping centre was one way but had 2 lanes for the traffic, meaning I could use both lanes, turns out after taking the 2nd turning it wasn't and I hadn't noticed the arrow instructing me it wasn't a one way road...I instantly realised and slowed down but by this time a car had come towards me while I was on his side of the road...I instantly signalled and got onto the right side of the road where a car who noticed my mistake had let me in, I wasn't stopped by the police but there was a camera that may have noticed my mistake,bI'm assuming it's a camera for the shopping centre car park thou or a traffic camera, it was 2 weeks ago today I haven't received anything at my new address but my licence is still registered at my ex girlfriends address...do you think I may be in trouble here?
Kd - 4-Aug-15 @ 1:56 AM
I've received a letter from the police requesting drivers details for my vehicle stating it was involved Ian offence under driving without due care and attention.The date of the alleged offence is over 6 months ago.Can they legally proceed with charges after this time lapse?
D - 30-Jul-15 @ 5:42 PM
Hi - I received a NIP after slowly squeezing between two vehicles at less than 1 mph - then reversed out because I thought it was too tight and a bit risky - didn't hit anything - someone must have reported me - I thought I was being careful - what might happen ?
neil - 15-Jul-15 @ 7:02 PM
Hi guys, any help at all would be appreciated. I am a new driver, 4-5 months and the weather has been relatively dry in the UK recently, until today. The roads were wet and slippy. I went through an amber light at around 26mph and turned but the road was that wet that I lost control of the car and span round in the middle of the junction 3 times (thankfully not hitting anything or anyone. No damage done at all). I was shook up for a few seconds but then turned my car around and carried on, when I looked in my rear view mirror I saw a police car. I'm not sure how much of the incident the police car saw but it did not stop me or pull me over. Should I be worried that they have taken pictures? or am I in the clear if they didn't stop me?
Soph - 6-Jul-15 @ 11:48 PM
last night i was pulled over at the side of the road but on my phone, rolling no more then 5mph.
However a police women on her own drove past and felt i was pulling out so bepped her own and pulled over.
I have been banned recently, where i have been back on the road from 14th Dec 2014. This ban was part of the totting up speeding system. So i had 12 points but they are no longer in play.
She has said she is going to put through a NIP for driving whilst being on a mobile and for driving with out dure care and attention. Although i was at the side of the road and literally rolling. She did say "it may not get to court" non the less, im worried.
Because i have been banned recently - will i be treated more severly or are there any other implications because of the recent ban? In the sense of an automatic ban or anything like that?
Any advice or help will be appreciated.
Steve R - 3-Jul-15 @ 11:33 AM
@Shewolf. They have up to 6 months to bring it to court.
NoPenaltyPoints - 1-Jul-15 @ 10:35 AM
A friend was driving and past an ambulance.
Then he got a phone call saying the police were looking for him,as the co driver of the ambulance had took his reg.
The lad went to police station said that he had been told police were looking for him,
Police spoke to him and told him he was driving reckless.
My friend denied this.
Pc asked the duty sergeant how to bail him my friend.
Duty sergeant informed Pc that he could not bail him or bail him with any conditions as he had not been cautioned or charged with any offence to let my friend go.
My friend has got a court date through the door and states he is on bail with conditions.
The police weren't there and there is know video evidence.
Theboy7 - 28-Jun-15 @ 12:16 PM
My husband was stopped by west mercia police on 9/6/2015. He was doing 90mph on a motorway.
He signed the caution. He gave his driving licence and address.
How long do they have to summons him to court?
Shewolf - 27-Jun-15 @ 8:08 PM
@Kelly. No The NIP effectively took place at the time you were stopped so you are now awaiting a decision so the 14 day rule is not relevant.
NoPenaltyPoints - 25-Jun-15 @ 12:15 PM
Last week I hit a cyclist on the approach to a roundabout. The cyclist didn't fall iff the bike. I just daged the bike. Bent the wheels.
Relieved a call from her saying she had hurt her leg, so has informed police.
I have now received an intent to proscicute form. Asking for driver details.
Gaz - 23-Jun-15 @ 2:47 PM
Got stopped for due care and attention on 4th may got a slip from the police and was told to wait till i recieve a letter so i could either do the course or take fixed penalty points and fine ...rang up pcn they said they back logged for 4 weeks can i avoid it and say they took over 28 days to send me anything????
kelly - 21-Jun-15 @ 3:05 PM
@sa395. Unfortunately if a court summons has already been issued you will have to contest this in court. The decision would then rest with a judge.
NoPenaltyPoints - 10-Jun-15 @ 2:23 PM
I hit a post whilst losing concentration for a second. I am now being prosecuted for driving without due care and attention. Can I plead for a Driver awareness course instead of a fine and points considering I have never had points on my licence or been involved in an accident?
sa395 - 6-Jun-15 @ 11:35 PM
@bertie. No. We assume the police attended the scene at the time of the accident, obviating the need to issue an NIP by post. The time limit to issue a court summons is 6 months.
NoPenaltyPoints - 2-Jun-15 @ 12:23 PM
I was involved in an accident on 17/2/15 and was only informed that I was to be charged with driving without due care and attention on 29/5/15.Is this right because as I've read that you must be informed within 14 days ?
Bertie - 30-May-15 @ 6:51 PM
@Yaz. If a court summons is to be issued it can take longer (up to 6 months)
NoPenaltyPoints - 22-May-15 @ 12:53 PM
Got stopped for careless driving and still not recived anything in post evan though they filled out all paper work its been 4 weeks
yaz - 20-May-15 @ 12:52 AM
@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?