In this article
road deaths were recorded in 2021
down from 2020
When will I be found guilty of death by dangerous driving?
The court will find you guilty of death by dangerous driving if they can prove the following:
- If you were driving a mechanically propelled vehicle
- Driving on a road or other public place
- You were driving dangerously
- Your dangerous driving caused the death of another person, whether that is a friend, a family member, or a total stranger
There must be enough evidence to prove that the standard of driving was poor and reckless enough to constitute driving dangerously. But what does dangerous driving entail in the eyes of the law?
What does driving dangerously mean?
The court will charge you with dangerous driving if:
- It would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous
- Your driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver
What is the difference between dangerous driving and careless driving?
Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 divides causing death by driving offences into four categories. You can be prosecuted for causing death by:
- Dangerous driving
- Careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs
- Careless or inconsiderate driving
- Unlicensed, disqualified, or uninsured
There is a distinction between careless and dangerous driving in the eyes of the law.
The factors that constitute careless driving suggest that the driver has not given due care and concentration to the roads. Whereas, the factors that constitute dangerous driving indicate that the driver has disregarded road safety, has driven aggressively, has knowingly driven whilst unfit to drive, or even all of the above
Read about the factors that contribute to careless driving versus dangerous behaviour here:
What are the sentencing guidelines?
Although causing death by dangerous driving is the most severe of driving offences, it still has levels of seriousness in the eyes of the law. Furthermore, the seriousness of the offence will determine the severity of the sentence. These levels assess how dangerous your driving was at the time of the offence.
This is the most severe banding of offences, which includes violations that suggest deliberate disregard to the rules of the road and danger caused to others. This ranges from 7 to 14 years imprisonment.
This level of driving caused a substantial risk of danger. This ranges from 4 to 7 years imprisonment.
A level of driving that caused a significant risk of danger. This ranges from 2 to 5 years imprisonment.
What is the minimum sentence for death by driving?
Not everyone convicted of causing death by dangerous driving will receive jail time. Nevertheless, the absolute minimum sentence involves a 2-year driving ban and an extended repeat driving test.
What is the maximum sentence for death by driving?
In the case of death by dangerous driving, the maximum sentence imposed by the court is 14 years in prison. However, the likelihood that these charges have occurred in conjunction with other offences are high. As a result, these will make the sentence significantly higher.
What are the factors for a death by dangerous driving sentence?
The levels of your offence act as a starting point for the judge and they will then assess any mitigating factors and aggravating factors. Mitigating factors will work to reduce your sentence, whereas aggravating factors will work to increase it.
Aggravating factors include:
- Ignoring warnings and signals
- More than one person died as a result of the offence
- Driving off to avoid apprehension
- Previous convictions
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Multiple offences
- Other serious, irresponsible behaviour during the time of the offence
- Showing little or no remorse
- Being uncooperative
Mitigating factors include:
- A genuine emergency caused the driving
- Your lack of driving experience contributed to the offence
- Youth or age, where relevant
- You sustained an injury the collision
- The victim was a close friend or relative
- Disability or mental illness
- The actions of the victim or a third party contributed to the collision
- You consumed drugs or alcohol unwittingly
- Genuine remorse for the offence
- Pleading guilty