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Driving Without Due Care & Attention: Definition & Consequences

Driving without due care and attentionThe formal definition of the offence “driving without due care and attention” can be tricky to relate to our own driving in a practical way. What might we do that could be construed as driving without due care and attention? And if convicted of the offence, will it affect your car insurance?

The formal definition of the offence, as stated in Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is:

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 public place, he is guilty of an offence.

Unfortunately the words “without due care and attention” are highly objective. Can it apply to changing the CD in the car’s music system? Eating a chocolate bar or speaking to your child?

There is no set list of driving errors that the law applies to, unfortunately, and it is very much open to individual interpretation.

The law tries to make the definition clearer by saying that a successful prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that

  1. your driving fell below the standards of a careful and competent motorist or
  2. didn’t show reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or pathways.

Some examples of driving this would apply to are:

  • driving too close to another vehicle (e.g. tailgating)
  • hitting a stationery vehicle from behind
  • running a red light
  • scraping another car in a car park
  • turning into the path of another vehicle
  • hitting a pedestrian
  • overtaking on the inside

More surprising examples could also fall under the definition of the offence:

  • programming a sat nav system whilst driving
  • lighting a cigarette 
  • not wearing sunglasses in sunny weather
  • eating or drinking whilst driving

Anything which causes a lapse in your concentration could be classed as driving without due care and attention, but certain behaviours are taken more seriously. These include (but are not restricted to) exceeding the speed limit, causing injury to people, damage to property, driving while tired or driving with an overloaded vehicle.

Penalties for driving without due care and attention

The penalty, if convicted, can be anything from 3 to 9 points on your driving licence, plus a fine of up to £5,000. The penalty points will stay on your licence for four years from the date of the offence.

In very serious cases you might be disqualified from driving. The severity of the penalty will depend on the seriousness of your individual circumstances.

Since August 2013, the police have powers to issue fixed penalties for careless driving, so less serious cases need not go to court if you decide to accept the fixed penalty. However, you can choose to fight the penalty if you think you’ve done nothing wrong. The case would then go to court to be decided.

Is it a criminal offence?

Yes, it is, as set out in Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, though it would have to be proven “beyond reasonable doubt” if you decided to challenge it in court.

Would a conviction for driving without due care and attention affect your insurance?

Until the conviction is spent, you must disclose it to your insurance company and it probably will have some effect on your premium. Some drivers find it difficult to find an insurance company willing to cover them at all for this motoring offence.

Girl Motor can help convicted drivers

If you’ve been convicted of driving without due care and attention, Girl Motor can help. Unlike many of our competitors, we can secure rates for drivers with convictions.

Why not get in touch for a quote?

Call *0344 493 7743 for friendly and expert help, or get a quote online.

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