Any allegation of causing death by dangerous driving should be treated with the seriousness it deserves. Custodial sentences are the norm for those convicted of this offence and, as such, it is essential that a person charged with the offence ensures the advice and representation of a skilled motoring defence solicitor from the outset.
Defending an allegation of death by dangerous driving will inevitably be a difficult and distressing process; Oratto's member motoring defence solicitors work from locations right across the United Kingdom and can help make the process as bearable as possible. Our solicitor matching and review services are free and allow you to decide which specialist is best suited to the particulars of your case.
Dangerous driving – legal definitions
According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), dangerous driving is defined as driving which "falls far below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver".
It is the responsibility of courts to determine whether a person's driving has fallen farbelow the standard expected of a reasonable driver and the prosecution must therefore prove that this was the case. The driving at the time of the fatal incident will be under scrutiny at a trial and if any circumstances can be shown to mitigate the charge of death by dangerous driving, then the charge may be dropped or a minimum sentence may be applied.
The CPS gives the following as examples of dangerous driving:
- Racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively
- Ignoring traffic lights, road signs or warnings from passengers
- Overtaking dangerously
- Driving under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription drugs
- Driving when unfit, including having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking prescribed drugs, or being sleepy
- Knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault or an unsafe load
Driving while distracted can also constitute an offence of dangerous driving. The CPS says that all of the following distractions could be considered as proof of dangerous driving:
- Using a hand-held phone or other equipment
- Reading, or looking at a map
- Talking to and looking at a passenger
- Lighting a cigarette, changing a CD or tape, tuning the radio
A sentence is likely to be harsher in the event that there are aggravating features. The following are all considered to be aggravating features in a dangerous driving case:
- Excessive speed
- Previous convictions
- Showing off
- Failing to stop for the police
Although courts have an obligatory duty to impose a disqualification on the defendant if found guilty, courts may apply only the most lenient penalties in the event that a defendant's motoring defence solicitor can prove mitigating factors. Examples of mitigating factors include:
- A first offence
- A momentary lapse in judgement
- No evidence of recklessness
Death by dangerous driving sentencing
For a person to be convicted of death by dangerous driving, the prosecution need only demonstrate that the defendant's act of dangerous driving was partially the cause of death.
Sentences for death by dangerous driving are sometimes less than two years but can be as long as 14 years, while two-year driving bans and licence retesting are mandatory.
Oratto, death by dangerous driving defence solicitors
Oratto gives you the ability to make intelligent and informed choices about your legal representation but at no cost or obligation on your part. For more information regarding your rights and choices, chat online with an advisor, arrange to speak free with a motoring defence lawyer for thirty minutes or try our Match Service.