Careless Driving in UK Law

Leading Cases
  • R v Simmonds
    • Court of Appeal
    • 22 Ene 1999

    Krawec was clearly valid in its context and at its time, but we do not see it as of assistance to sentencing courts in the different context of today. Whilst culpability or criminality remains the primary consideration this Court has concluded that Judge McNicholl was entitled to bear in mind that he was dealing with an offence that had led to death.

  • Attorney General's Reference (Nos. 14 and 24 of 1993); R v Shepherd; R v Wernet
    • Court of Appeal
    • 17 Dic 1993

    These reforms show an intention by Parliament to strengthen the criminal law, to reduce death on the roads by increasing the punishment available to the Courts, and by specifically targeting those who cause death whilst driving with excess alcohol. In tandem with that, causing death by the less serious form of culpable driving, characterised as careless, carries the same maximum sentence if coupled with driving whilst unfit through drink or over the limit.

    Thus, where a driver is over the limit, and kills someone as a result of his careless driving, a prison sentence will ordinarily be appropriate. The length of sentence will of course depend upon the aggravating and mitigating circumstances in the particular case, but especially on the extent of the carelessness and the amount the defendant is over the limit.

  • R v Fairbanks
    • Court of Appeal
    • 25 Jun 1986

    These cases bear out the conclusion, which we should in any event have reached, that the Judge is obliged to leave the lesser alternative only if this is necessary in the interests of justice.

    By taking it away from the jury the learned Recorder created a risk that one or more jurors might feel an equal distaste for convicting the defendant of a serious crime on the basis of a single instance of bad driving, and allowing him to escape without any penalty at all, and would thus be impelled to arrive at a verdict contrary to an objective assessment of the evidence.

  • R v Krawec
    • Court of Appeal
    • 26 Nov 1984

    In our judgment the unforeseen and unexpected results of the carelessness are not in themselves relevant to penalty. The primary considerations are the quality of the driving, the extent to which the appellant on the particular occasion fell below the standard of the reasonably competent driver; in other words, the degree of carelessness and culpability. The unforeseen consequences may sometimes be relevant to those considerations.

  • R v Odedara (Prakash)
    • Court of Appeal
    • 21 Dic 2009

    Plainly some acts of careless driving involve the kind of serious fault which are likely to call for sentences of imprisonment. We attempt no kind of list, but they might clearly include the kind of case where a driver drives deliberately when his attention is elsewhere (as for example trying to use a telephone), or the driver who drives when affected by the consumption of alcohol or drugs. So too might bad driving associated for example with the theft of the motorcar.

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