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CARELESS DRIVING

What does careless driving include?

1. What does careless driving include?

2. What is the penalty for Careless Driving in Ireland?

3. Can you get banned for careless driving?

4. What’s the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

5. Careless driving causing serious injury

6. Is careless driving a criminal offence in Ireland?

7. How many penalty points do you get for careless driving?

8. How can police prove careless driving?

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Untitled design (6)-fotor-20240112231544 (1) (1).png

What does careless driving include?

  • The official definition is “Driving a vehicle in a public place without due care and attention”.

  • There is no legal definition of what ‘due care and attention is. As usual, it depends on the facts of the case.
     

  • As a general rule you’re regarded as driving carelessly if your driving falls below what would be expected of a 'competent and careful driver'. 

  • It’s a standard of care that a 'reasonably prudent' driver should exercise while driving.

       Examples of Careless Driving:

  • Driving inappropriately close to another vehicle

  • Overtaking on the inside

  • Driving through a red light

  • Emerging from a side road into the path of another vehicle.

  • Paying attention to mobile phones or any other distraction inside/outside the car
     

What is the penalty for Careless Driving in Ireland?

 

• A potential disqualification two years for a first offence and a mandatory disqualification order of four years in the case of a second or subsequent offence within three years.


• In the case of a first offence, discretion is available to a Court not to impose any disqualification order, if significant mitigation is accepted by the Court.

Can you get banned for careless driving?

  • Yes. You can be disqualified for up to 2 years for your first offence.

  • However the courts have discretion not to disqualify a person for their first offence.

  • In general, courts don’t want to disqualify people unless circumstances dictate it.

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What’s the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving?

A matter of degree.

Motorists are expected to be competent and careful.

You’re expected to be aware of some things (e.g. road works, junctions, zebra crossings etc) but sometimes things are unexpected and cannot be anticipated.

If an unanticipated event occurs (e.g. swarm of bees fly into your car), that’s seen as a defence

Generally, the consequences of driving dictate the charge: i.e. if the driving causes injury or damage it’s likely that the charge will be elevated from careless driving to dangerous driving.

It might be the exact same driving, but the result often determines which charge you get, if any.

The difference between careless driving and dangerous driving is the extent to which the driving falls below the required standard.

If your driving fell “below” the standard expected of a competent and careful driver the charge will likely be careless driving.

If it fell “far below” the standard expected of a competent and careful driver the charge will likely be dangerous driving.

Careless driving causing serious injury.

• Where the careless driving caused death or serious bodily harm, the penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or €10,000 fine.


• There’s a minimum four-year disqualification on conviction for careless driving where death or serious bodily harm resulted.

Is careless driving a criminal offence in Ireland?

  • Yes. But it is regarded as a mid-range road traffic offence and shouldn’t be sufficient to prevent a person either getting a job or travelling to different countries. 

  • It’s an ‘objective test’ i.e. the State don’t have to show that you were aware of the consequences of your driving, just that you were aware of what you were doing.

  • So, there’s no 'intent' involved and because of that careless driving is separated from other offences where intent must be shown e.g. theft, deception, assaults etc.

  • You can’t be guilty of theft without having intended to steal.

  • But you can be guilty of careless driving even though you hadn’t intended to drive carelessly.

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How many penalty points do you get for careless driving?

  • 5 penalty points and a court fine up to a maximum of EUR5,000

  • In reality, the general fine for a first conviction for careless driving is between €400 and €900.  

  • But it does carry 5 points on conviction.

How can police prove careless driving?

  • Evidence can come from a witness or other source e.g. CCTV footage.

  • In the majority of prosecutions for careless driving, somebody has made a statement to the Gardai about your driving.

  • In that case the Gardai should approach you, outline the allegation against you and give you an opportunity to respond to the allegation i.e. to make a statement of your own to dispute the allegation if you wish.

  • The result of this process will determine whether the case goes to court or not.

His Priority Is The Same As Yours: Keeping You On The Road.

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