Careless and dangerous driving

Careless driving falls below the minimum standard expected of a careful driver and includes driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. Dangerous driving includes behaviour that could potentially endanger yourself or other drivers. If you drive in a careless or dangerous manner you risk prosecution.

Careless and dangerous driving – the law

It is illegal to drive or ride a vehicle dangerously on the road or without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for other road users.

You could be breaking the law if, while driving or riding, you are guilty of any of the following behaviours:

Careless behaviour

  • tailgating
  • failing to look properly
  • sudden braking
  • overtaking on the inside
  • turning into the path of another driver
  • having your attention diverted by a distraction inside the car, for example, using a mobile phone
  • having your attention diverted by a distraction outside the car, for example, 'rubber necking'

Dangerous behaviour

  • racing, going too fast, or driving aggressively
  • ignoring traffic lights, road signs or warnings from passengers
  • overtaking dangerously
  • driving under the influence of drink or drugs, including prescription drugs
  • driving while unfit including: having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking required prescribed drugs or being fatigued
  • driving whilst knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault or an unsafe load
  • driving whilst distracted by, for example, reading a map, using a hand-held phone, lighting a cigarette

Read the Highway Code for more information.

What are the penalties?

A driver or rider convicted of a careless or dangerous driving offence risks:

Types of penalties Careless driving Dangerous driving
Fine Up to £5,000 Unlimited
Penalty points Between three and nine Between three and 11
Disqualification Yes Yes, for a minimum of two years
Imprisonment No Yes

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