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Death by Dangerous Driving

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Death By Dangerous Driving

Death by dangerous driving



Out of all motoring offences, death by dangerous driving is the most severe. Being involved in a fatal road accident can come as a complete shock. If you are in a situation where you have been charged or involved in a road accident resulting in a fatality, it is vital to seek the help of a specialist as soon as possible in order to understand the correct steps you must take for a favourable outcome.

In order to demystify the complex legal jargon surrounding your case and help you assess your options when charged with or involved in a death by dangerous driving offence, the specialist motoring solicitors have compiled the following article, covering the facts necessary for you to make an informed decision in your case.

At Parnell and Peel, we are a specialist firm only offering our legal service for motoring offences, with a long track record of defending our clients and excellent legal representation and support. We believe we can help you obtain the best possible outcome from your dangerous driving offence.

For a free initial consultation, contact us now at 0330 341 1690.


What does the law say?


Under Section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, it states:

“A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence."

What constitutes driving as dangerous?

The term dangerous is further touched on in Section 2A of the RTA 1988 and states that it is when the standard of driving falls far below what is expected of a competent and careful driver, including behaviours that could harm the motorist or  others.This involves careless and inconsiderate driving with disregard for the law and other motorists.


Examples of dangerous driving


Dangerous Driving:

  • speeding, racing, or driving aggressively.

  • ignoring traffic lights, road signs, or warnings from passengers

  • overtaking dangerously

  • driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, including prescription drugs

  • driving when unfit, including having an injury, being unable to see clearly, not taking prescribed drugs, or being sleepy.

  • knowing the vehicle has a dangerous fault or an unsafe load


Distractions can also be classified as dangerous driving, such as:


  • using a mobile phone or other equipment

  • reading or looking at a map

  • talking to and looking at a passenger

  • lighting a cigarette, selecting music, tuning the radio

Dangerous Driving


What is the sentence for death by dangerous driving?

In order for a motorist to be prosecuted for death by dangerous driving, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution in order to prove:

A)  The death was due to the motorist driving dangerously.


B)  A death occurred.

The sentence a motorist receives for death by dangerous driving depends on the level of severity of the offence, as stated by different levels from 1-3. From 4 years of imprisonment to 14 years of imprisonment Although the levels of seriousness are taken into consideration by the judges, the circumstances surrounding the offence are extremely important when a sentence is decided. The maximum penalty for death by dangerous driving is also likely to reform from 14 years to life imprisonment.

Level 1: can carry a sentence of 7–14 years imprisonment.


Level 2: can carry a sentence of 4–7 years imprisonment.


Level 3: can carry a sentence of 2–5 years imprisonment.


Certain factors, such as mitigating and aggravating factors, are also taken into consideration.


Mitigating Factors 


Mitigating factors are factors that indicate a lower level of blame and, hence, usually a reduced sentence. Examples :

  • A serious injury to the offender

  • Mental illness

  • Disability

  • A guilty plea

  • Actions committed by the victim increased the likelihood of the accident.

  • Drugs or alcohol consumed unwillingly

  • The victim is a close friend or family member.


Aggravating Factors


Aggravating factors are factors that indicate a higher culpability, blame, and increased sentence. Examples :


  • Previous convicted motoring offences

  • Multiple deaths were caused.

  • Driving without due care and attention or driving irresponsibly

  • Multiple motoring offences were committed.


For more information on how your sentence will be decided in regards to your death by dangerous driving case please visit our dedicated article on the sentencing guidelines Here.


What is the difference between death by dangerous driving and death by careless driving?



The main difference between an offence of death by dangerous driving and careless driving is the ability and severity of driving shown by the motorist. To be classed as dangerous driving, the level of driving must fall far below the expected level of a competent motorist, but in contrast, in careless driving offences, the level of driving is not as severely below the standard expected level for a considerate driver. Common examples of careless driving are:


  • overtaking on the inside;

  • driving too close to another vehicle;

  • driving through a red light by mistake;

  • turning into the path of another vehicle;


For an extensive list, visit


If I plead guilty to death by dangerous driving, will I receive a reduced sentence?



The short answer would be yes, the extent of how much an offender's sentence is reduced would depend on multiple factors, such as how early an offender has plead guilty in a case. If an offender over the age of 18 pleads guilty early on in a case, their sentence can be reduced by up to ⅓ rd. The later the plea is entered by the offender, the less the sentence is reduced.


  • If a plea has been entered before the first magistrate's hearing, this is considered early.

  • If entered 14 days after the initial hearing, the maximum reduction is 20%.


Other penalties you could face for death by dangerous driving



Ancillary orders

Ancillary orders are extra consequences added to an offender's sentence; these typically come in the form of financial compensation to the victim's family. During the investigative period, personal assets could also be seized, such as your vehicle and mobile phone.


Payment of costs of prosecution

More than likely, if convicted of death by dangerous driving, the costs of the investigation will also need to be paid by the offender, including:

  • Medical/Experts reports

  • Costs of the prosecutor

  • Fees for external barristers

  • The entire cost of the investigation


When is death by dangerous driving spent?


What is meant by the term "spent"? When a conviction is spent, it is no longer necessary to declare and is removed from the CRB database.


Sentence Length

Rehabilitation Period

Less than 2.5 years (30 months)

7 years

2.5 years to less than 4 years

10 years

4 years to less than 7 years

14 years

7 years or more

Never spent

How do we help?


At Parnell and Peel, we have dealt with thousands of motoring offences and understand the shock, severity, and damage that a death by dangerous driving conviction can cause to your life. With a long track record of motorists we've helped and unwavering support for our clients, we believe in providing the utmost exemplary legal representation for our clients in their most dire times of need.

For more information on our services or to request an initial free consultation to see where you stand in your case, don't hesitate to call us at 0330 341 1690.