If you are charged with causing death by dangerous driving, you need to instruct a motoring defence solicitor straight away. Causing death by dangerous driving is a serious offence that carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison. A motoring defence solicitor can argue your case in court, working to secure an acquittal or a lesser charge.
If you have been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We know how upsetting this situation is and will do all we can to help you. We act for clients across England and Wales and are available to take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
What does dangerous driving mean?
Dangerous driving is defined as driving that falls far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver, where it would be obvious that driving in that way would be dangerous. If this results in a fatality – be it of another driver, a pedestrian, a cyclist or a passenger – it will lead to the charge of causing death by dangerous driving.
Examples of dangerous driving include:
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
- Undertaking vehicles
- Distracted driving
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Driving aggressively
- Ignoring road markings and traffic signals
Driving can also be considered dangerous if the vehicle is not road-worthy, which in turn puts others at risk. For example, a vehicle may have substandard brakes. If a driver is aware of this fault but drives the vehicle anyway – in turn leading to an accident – there will be grounds for a dangerous driving charge.
What are the penalties for causing death by dangerous driving?
The penalties for causing death by dangerous driving can be severe. It is one of the most serious driving offences, and this is reflected in the penalties available to the court. The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is:
- 14 years imprisonment
- A two-year driving ban
- A compulsory extended repeat driving test
However, even if you are convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, that does not mean that you will automatically receive the maximum sentence available. There are cases in which defendants have received suspended sentences, meaning they serve their sentence in the community, rather than in custody.
What should I do if I’m accused of causing death by dangerous driving?
Nevertheless, causing death by dangerous driving is a serious charge. If you are accused of this offence, it is not a situation to be taken lightly. It is absolutely vital that you instruct a specialist motoring defence solicitor at the earliest available opportunity. Otherwise, you may accidentally jeopardise your case. This could lead to a conviction and a significant sentence – both of which can be avoided with the help of a specialist motoring defence solicitor.
What will happen if I’m accused of causing death by dangerous driving?
If you are charged with causing death by dangerous driving, it is likely that you have been involved in a traumatic car accident. The police probably attended the scene of the accident. They may also have breathalysed you, so as to determine whether you were driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Then, the police will investigate the circumstances of the crash. You may be invited to attend the station for an interview. If you have not already done so, we highly recommend that you instruct a motoring defence solicitor at this stage. You should not attend a police interview alone; always ask your solicitor to accompany you. The police often withhold information from you and employ certain interview tactics, all in an attempt to trip you up. A solicitor can advise what questions to answer, and how, ensuring you do not accidentally incriminate yourself.
If the police decide there is enough evidence to convict you of causing death by dangerous driving, you will be formally charged. You will then be asked to attend a hearing at the Magistrates’ Court. This is more of a formality, in which the magistrates will refer the case onto the Crown Court. A date will then be set for a hearing at the Crown Court. If you intend to plead not guilty, there will be a trial either in front of a judge, or a judge and a jury. If you wish to plead guilty, there will not be a trial. Instead, the judge will decide how to sentence you.
Can I defend a charge of causing death by dangerous driving?
The question of whether to plead guilty or not guilty is ultimately one for you to decide.
Of course, if you have been wrongly accused, then you must bring this to the attention of the police or at Court. This does happen, particularly if the police are uncertain who was driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Even if you have not been falsely accused, there are defences available. The primary defence is that the standard of driving does not meet the definition of ‘dangerous’. If this can be established, it will be possible to secure of charge of causing death by careless driving instead. This is a lesser charge, with the maximum penalty being five years in prison.
It could also be argued that while death did occur, this was not caused by dangerous driving. For instance, if a pedestrian runs out into the road, the prosecution may argue that their death happened because you were driving over the speed limit. However, crash reconstruction experts may confirm that the pedestrian would have died, even if you were travelling within the speed restrictions.
Other defences include:
- Mistake – for example, you mistakenly thought your vehicle was road-worthy when it was not
- Insanity – whereby you were suffering from a mental health illness
- Automatism – meaning you were not aware of your actions, perhaps because you had an adverse reaction to a prescription drug
- Self-defence – where you were protecting yourself from serious injury
- Duress – where you were forced to drive dangerously
How can a motoring defence solicitor help you?
The burden of proof rests upon the prosecution to establish that you are guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. To do so, they must provide evidence that supports any accusations. So, if it is alleged that you were speeding, a reading from a speed camera must be produced. Similarly, if there are questions regarding the safety of your vehicle, the prosecution must establish that you were aware of any faults.
A motoring defence solicitor can examine the evidence disclosed by the prosecution before advising on the best course of action. If the case against you has little merit, a motoring defence solicitor can expose these flaws. This may result in the case being dropped in the investigation stage.
If your case does proceed to court, your motoring defence solicitor can gather evidence to prove your innocence. This might include witness statements, CCTV footage, forensic reports and expert testimony. Together, such evidence can help to persuade the court that you are not guilty of causing death by dangerous driving. This might lead to a lesser charge, or you might even avoid a conviction altogether.
There might also be mitigating factors that need to be brought to the court’s attention. These can prompt the judge to show more leniency when sentencing you. Examples of mitigating factors include:
- Genuine remorse
- Good character references
- Co-operating with the investigation
- Being a valuable contribution to society – for example, if you are a doctor
- Being in poor physical or mental health
Speak to our motoring defence solicitors London
Being accused of causing death by dangerous driving is a highly traumatic experience. Not only have you been involved in a serious car accident, but you also have the threat of litigation – and even a prison sentence – hanging over you. We understand exactly how you feel, and we are here to help you.
We can represent you from the moment you come under investigation. Early legal advice is essential. We can accompany you to any police interviews, gather evidence, and instruct other experts to work in support of your case.
Make an enquiry
If you have been accused of causing death by dangerous driving, call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.