Introduction to Driving Offences

In this article we aim to explore motoring offences.  Motoring offences are strict liability offences. The intention of the motorist is not considered as a relevant consideration.

Reading Time: 5 Minutes

What is include?

  • What are Driving Offences
  • Drink Driving
  • Procuring
  • Compliance with the Law in Regards to Drink Driving
  • Driving Licence Endorsements
  • Causing Death by Dangerous Driving
  • Speeding
  • Using your Mobile Phone Behind the Wheel
  • Driving without Insurance
  • Driving when Disqualified

What are Driving Offences?

A driver that has been accused or convicted of an offence concerned with driving or operating a vehicle.

Drink driving

  • In the United Kingdom there are extremely strict limits for driving under the influence of alcohol.
  • It is impossible to define exactly how many drinks one could consume as this varies from person to person.
  • The alcohol limit varies from Scotland to the rest of the United Kingdom.

Level of alcohol intake for the UK

Micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath         35    

Milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood               80     

Milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine                107    

  • A drink driving offence is one of strict liability, this is defined as an offence where no fault needs to be proven to secure a conviction.

The Road Traffic Act 1988, states;

‘A person who, when driving or attempting to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public places, is unfit to drive through drink or drugs is guilty of an offence’.

The law is concerned with public safety in regard to driving intoxicated, therefore, whether a driver is knowingly intoxicated or not is irrelevant. Public safety is of grave importance.

Procuring

  • Procuring is to persuade or cause another to behave in a way that is not proper.

Example:

John compels Priya to drive whilst she had been drinking excessively. John therefore procures Priya to commit a driving offence and is liable for that offence as a secondary party.

Drink driving laws in the United Kingdom are strictly enforced and the penalties upon conviction can be very severe. In the United Kingdom it is illegal to:

  1. Drive or attempt to drive with excess alcohol (while exceeding the legal limit),
  2. Drive or attempt to drive whilst unfit through alcohol or drugs
  3. Exceed the legal alcohol limit while operating a motor vehicle.
  4. Fail to co-operate with a preliminary breath test when required to do so
  5. Fail to provide an evidential specimen (blood, breath or urine) for analysis while driving or attempting to drive a vehicle
  6. Fail to provide an evidential specimen (blood, breath or urine) for analysis while in charge of a vehicle
  7. Fail to give permission for a laboratory test of a blood specimen taken while that person was incapable of consenting.

Conviction on any of these offences, will result in the defendant having a criminal record.

If a person is convicted of drink driving related offences, the person in question will face an obligatory or a possible driving disqualification, which is dependable on the extent of the offence committed.

Example:

The offence of driving a vehicle whilst exceeding the maximum legal alcohol limit carries a minimum mandatory driving disqualification of 12 months.

Driving Licence Endorsements

Regardless of whether or not a disqualification has been imposed, a driving licence endorsement will be added to the offender’s driving licence which will remain for a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 11 years depending on the offence.

  • Additional penalties can be included for example; fines, community orders, court costs, compensation and in serious cases a custodial prison sentence.

Causing Death by Dangerous Driving

Death by dangerous driving is a special case of gross negligence manslaughter. There are also an additional two alternative offences where death is caused by dangerous driving:

  1. Gross negligence manslaughter where the manner of driving fell so far below reasonable standards as to create a risk of death.
  2. A statutory offence of causing death by dangerous driving

Speeding

Speeding is the most common driving offence on UK roads. If a person is caught to be speeding the consequences are

  • A fine and,
  • Penalty points on their licence.

Guidelines suggest that drivers are only prosecuted when exceeding the speed limit by 10% plus 2mph, but the police are not required to stick to this rigidly.

A speed awareness course may be offered if the speed limit exceeded is of a small margin.

Using your Mobile Phone Behind the Wheel

From 1st March 2017, the penalty for using a mobile whilst driving has changed drastically. If a person is caught to be using a mobile phone whilst driving the penalty carries

  • Six points on your licence and
  • A £200 fine.

The law is very clear on when a person can use a hand-held device behind the wheel. The use of a hand-held device is only legal when a person is safely parked, (this does not include waiting in traffic or sat at traffic lights).

The law is also clear and includes provisions for emergencies. A person is allowed to make 999 calls or 112 calls on a hand-held device while driving when it is unsafe to stop.

Any persons caught to be using a hand-held device whilst driving can in fact be banned from driving. The changes in law effectively mean that if a new driver, someone who has held a licence for less than 2 years, could be seriously affected by the charges as if more than six penalty points are given, then the new drivers may have their licence revoked.

Driving without Insurance

Driving a vehicle without insurance on a public road, could lead to

  • A roadside penalty of £300; and
  • Six penalty points on your licence.

If found to have no insurance on the vehicle the police have the power to seize any uninsured vehicle, seizure of a vehicle applies to any car that the person is driving without the appropriate insurance – even if the vehicle is insured in another person’s name.  

Driving when disqualified

If you’re caught driving following a ban, the police will arrest you on the spot and a court will decide your outcome.

If the offence is one of lower culpability, the disqualification could be expanded. Furthermore, the court may feel you have shown disrespect for the law and could decide to impose a custodial sentence up to 26 weeks and expand the ban.

For further information and advice regarding Criminal Law, you can speak with one of Legalally’s experienced lawyers instantly through your mobile, tablet and laptop from anywhere in the world.

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