Our motoring solicitors recognise that any allegation involving serious danger or death doesn’t just affect the victims, but also the person accused. We take particular care to be sensitive to clients whose liberty and family life are threatened by the prospect of these allegations. In cases involving a death, even if the client is not guilty of an offence, the whole process can be painful.
For cases involving death or serious injury, Mary Monson will play an active role in the preparation of the defence, and she will be instrumental in the selection of the barrister when the case reaches the Crown Court.
Our motoring solicitors’ case studies
Any motoring lawyer can claim to have expertise in different types of motoring case. We have included here some case studies to give some idea of how we prepare our cases.
Case Study 1
Our client was charged with dangerous driving, refusing to stop for police, driving whilst disqualified, and driving without insurance.
He had admitted all of these offences in interview. He had crashed the car, and a passenger had been seriously injured. He then asked us to take on his case. He had been refused bail by Judges three times. This was on the grounds that a prison sentence was inevitable, because he had 25 previous motoring convictions.
We commissioned reports into his background and secured the services of a specialist motoring barrister to speak on his behalf to the judge before sentence.
Verdict: 2 year suspended sentence – Client walked free
Case Study 2
Our client was charged with dangerous driving. He was an HGV driver who stood to lose a family business of 100 years if he was convicted. The prosecution had not served him with a correct form of the Notice of Intended Prosecution. We prepared an application to the judge to have the case thrown out.
Verdict: Charges dropped by Prosecution.
The Law on Dangerous Driving
The Law in this area is similar to that of Careless Driving. It is the standard of driving which is important. But with the more serious offence, the standard of driving must be “far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver”, and “that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous”. First the court has to decide if the standard of driving is far below that of the reasonable driver, and then it has to decide if it would have been obvious in the circumstances.
Some examples of what the court might regard to be dangerous driving include:
- Street racing
- Motorbike “wheelies”
- Driving at over 140 mph
- Aggressive driving
- Undertaking and weaving between lanes
- Consistent lack of attention to the road
- Consistent ignoring of road signs and speed limit
- Any driving in a vehicle which is considered dangerous
This is not an exhaustive list.
These are aspects of the offence which make it more serious, and include:
- Whether the driver was showing off
- Previous driving convictions
- High speeds
- Long period of bad driving
- A failure to stop for police
Mitigating features include:
- A momentary lapse
- No recklessness or complete disregard for safety
- A single incident
Causing Death by Dangerous Driving
If the driving causes the death of another, then the offence of causing death by dangerous driving may have been committed. The driving does not have to be the only cause of the death, if the driving is at least partially to blame.
The maximum sentence for this offence was increased in 2003 from 10 to 14 years. A driving ban of two years is also mandatory, with a mandatory retake of the driving test to regain the licence.
Momentary very bad driving resulting in death usually results in a shorter prison sentence of less than 2 years. Longer sentences, of between 2 and 5 years, are given where the driving was considerably worse. Sentences of over 5 years are only usually handed out for driving which is extremely or blatantly dangerous.
Causing Death by Careless Driving
Where death has been caused by bad driving, but that driving is not bad enough to be termed ‘dangerous driving’ the prosecution may bring a case for causing death by careless driving. This may only be offered in a plea deal at court, and a good defence team should be able to tell when it could be a good idea to negotiate with the prosecution for this lesser charge. A well handled guilty plea to causing death by Careless Driving can often result in a sentence that does not involve prison.
The need for Expert Witness Reports
It is of importance where any accident involving injury has taken place that full scientific reports are undertaken into the exact cause of the offence.
For causing death by dangerous driving cases, Mary Monson solicitors have direct access to some of the UK’s top crash investigators, who can provide full investigations into crashes, and examine crashed vehicles if necessary.
For these offences, free legal assistance is usually available, and a lawyer is absolutely necessary. The sentence can involve imprisonment, and it is our policy to speak to anyone who is charged with these offences with no obligation for some initial advice.