Careless driving and driving without due care

The implications for a motorist convicted for an offence of careless driving can mean a driving disqualification, up to 9 penalty points endorsed on your driving licence and increased insurance premiums. We provide a comprehensive service from specialist legal advice to expert representation in court by an experienced motoring barrister.

A Motoring lawyers Guide to Careless Driving

Broadly referred to as “Careless Driving” this is one of the most common motoring offences (it is also perhaps one of the most misunderstood).  From August 2013 a change in the law gives the Police discretion to offer a fixed penalty, which a motorist can still appeal to the magistrates court. However most serious instances of careless driving will still be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court.

The offence of Careless Driving is defined under Section 3 ofthe Road Traffic Act 1988 as;

  ‘If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence.’
What’s the difference between careless driving and driving without reasonable consideration?

The Act creates two different offences, ‘careless driving’ and ‘driving without reasonable consideration’.

In careless driving cases, a driver would need to show that he was ‘exercising the degree of care and attention which a reasonable prudent driver would exercise,” in order to be found not guilty for this offence. In the second, ‘driving without reasonable consideration’,  the prosecution need to show that other road users are “inconvenienced by the drivers driving.” Evidence of inconvenience’ can be proved by;

  • Evidence from other road users such as other motorists or pedestrians.
  •  Any inferences which can be inferred from evidence of the reactions and any subsequent behaviour of witnesses who are road users

Careless Driving  (Driving without due Care and Attention)

A charge of driving without due care and attention is where a drivers driving falls below the minimum standard of driving expected of a ‘reasonable and prudent driver’. Common examples of careless driving can include;

      • Failure to follow the standards of driving set out in the Highway Code (although the breach of a road traffic rule in the highway code does not always necessarily amount to careless driving).
      • Crossing lanes whilst over taking other vehicles causing a collision and therefore causing collision with another vehicle.
      • Crossing a road marking dividing line.
      • Causing a collision
      • Overtaking a long line of parked cars at a set of temporary lights
      • Causing obstruction to oncoming vehicles after traffic lights have changed, has been held by the courts to amount to careless driving


      • Other examples include: Driving through the red lights, driving inappropriately close to other vehicles, Hitting a stationary vehicle from behind, driving too slowly or using brakes unnecessarily, using a hand held device whilst the vehicle is moving reading a newspaper or a map, even lighting a cigarette or looking at a passenger can be construed as evidence of careless driving according to the Crown Prosecution Service Driving Offences Charges Standard Guidelines.

Often there is a factual conflict between what is alleged by the prosecution and a driver’s version of an event. In many cases of careless and inconsiderate driving the conflict may be between two motorists i.e. ‘his word against mine’. In other cases, the police may have decided to charge one driver for careless driving where there has been an accident.

Careless driving, inconsiderate driving, driving without due care and attention Fine: £5,000
Penalty Points:

Depending on the seriousness of the offence a court may impose points at the higher end of the scale. For example if a person was also convicted for an offence of speeding, or existing points.

Expert Defence by Specialist Magistrates Court Barristers

Defending careless driving cases, requires detailed and forensic analysis of the facts. In many cases, liability for road traffic accidents will often be determined by a finding of a criminal court as to whether one of the drivers was driving carelessly. In such cases there may be evidence of a road traffic collision report and scene of the incident evidence. In some cases, the finding of a road traffic police officer can be independently challenged by a road traffic expert. For example;

      • Road traffic
      • Accident scene reconstructions
      • Analysis of tyre marking on the road to determine fault
      • Other markings and accidental damage which can be analysed to be determined fault and liability.

In contested cases our service means that the best motoring lawyer – a barrister –  will prepare your case, conduct your trial and cross examine the witnesses and make submissions on the facts of the case as well as the law. Establishing that a driver is an honest and credible person to be believed is crucial to the success of a case. In uncontested cases we provide sound practical legal advice as to the best options and outcomes .

To discuss your case today, call 02081239999 or email

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