7 Dangerous Driving Offences and their Punishments

by | Jan 26 2021 | Criminal Defence

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Dangerous Driving | Read Time 8-10 minutes. 

What is dangerous driving?

In short, dangerous driving is one of the most serious types of motoring offences. Typically, the offence involves an individual driving aggressively or recklessly. 

Please note the term dangerous driving is an umbrella term and covers a wide variety of driving offences. Please see the examples below. 

1. Speeding 

Speeding is one of the most common types of driving offences on the roads in the UK. The UK driving guidelines indicate drivers will only be prosecuted when exceeding the speed limit by 10% plus two mph. However, it would help if you never assumed that you have the 10% plus two mph leeway as the police are not required to stick to it.

lowest severity punishment for speeding

If the police have stopped you, the minimum penalty possible to receive is a verbal warning. The police also have the decision to give you a fixed penalty notice (FPN) or order you to court. If you plead guilty to the FPN, you can expect to receive a £100 fine and have 3 points added to your license. However, you may be given the option to attend a speed awareness course if the police decide it applies to your offence.

Highest severity punishment for speeding

The maximum fine you can expect to receive for speeding would be between £1,000 – £2,500 if you were driving on a motorway. However, if the court decides the driving speed was so excessive that it fell far below the standard expected of a competent driver, you may be charged with dangerous driving. The highest severity penalty you can receive from dangerous driving is two years of imprisonment, an unlimited fine and obligatory disqualification.

How much can I expect to pay for my speeding ticket? 
Band  Starting Point Range
                   A 50% of relevant weekly income. 25 – 75% of relevant weekly income.
                   B 100% of relevant weekly income. 75 – 125% of relevant weekly income.
                   C 150% of relevant weekly income. 125 – 175% of relevant weekly income.

More severe bands are used for extreme speeding and driving offences, including D, E, and F.

D – 200-300% of your weekly income

E – 300-500% of your weekly income

F – 500-700% of your weekly income.

Please note, if you collect more than 11 points in three years, you will face disqualification.

Can I dispute a speeding ticket? 

Some speeding fines can be won through appeal. However, you will need to seek the help of a solicitor. A solicitor can beat the appeal on technicalities including:

  1. Missing details on the ticket.
  2. Incorrect or obscured signs.
  3. You can prove you were not driving the vehicle.

It is unlikely you will win an appeal without a legal advisor’s assistance as dangerous driving law is a complex area of law. 

2. Failure to comply with road signs

road sign

If you have been caught driving through a red traffic light or have misunderstood a road sign you could face a hefty fine and points added to your license. Failing to comply with a traffic sign (excluding stop signs, traffic lights or double white lines) is a code TS50 driving offence. Furthermore, if you ignore mandatory traffic signs and road markings such as double white lines or stop signs, you may be prosecuted for a TS20 or TS30 road offence. TS50, TS20 or TS30 driving violations are usually dealt with by Fixed Penalties, and you can expect to receive three points and a fine of £100.

What is the Minimum penalty I can expect? 

The minimum penalty you can expect to receive is a verbal warning if court by the police. However, more commonly TS50, TS20 or TS30 driving offences are usually dealt with by Fixed Penalties, and you can expect to receive three points and a fine. In some cases, you may be given the option to attend a driver awareness course.

What is the Maximum penalty I can expect? 

The highest severity fine you can receive for ignoring road signs is £1,000. However, if the sign-in question is a stop or no entry sign, it can lead to a more severe offence.

What defence can you use? 

Failure to stop for a traffic signal is deemed as a strict liability offence. There are certain circumstances that may provide an offence, for example:

  1. It can be proved that you did not fail to comply with the traffic signal.
  2. The signage or light had a defect. 

A solicitor can advise you on your situation and assess if there is a possible defence. However, without the assistance of a solicitor, you may receive a higher penalty. 

3. Overtaking dangerously


Overtaking is one of the most dangerous types of vehicle manoeuvres that drivers undertake. Furthermore, dangerous overtaking or undertaking other vehicles are two of the most common behaviours that are categorised under the dangerous driving offence. If you are unsure about overtaking for any reason, be sure to look at the highway code on overtaking. If you are caught overtaking dangerously, it can either be categorised as careless behaviour or dangerous behaviour.

lowest severity punishment for overtaking dangerously

If you have been caught overtaking and deemed to be due to careless behaviour the lowest penalty you can expect an on the spot fine of £100 and 3-4 points on your license. However, if the overtake has been deemed a dangerous driving offence, the minimum penalty you can expect is to receive a 12-month driving ban.  

highest severity punishment for overtaking dangerously

The maximum penalty you can receive for careless driving in court is £5,000 and disqualification. However, if the overtake has resulted in a fatal crash, it can be deemed a dangerous driving offence. Please see the table below for more information.

Types of penalties


Careless driving


Dangerous Driving


Up to £5,000


Penalty Points


Between three and nine


Between three and 11




Yes, for a minimum of two years




4. Drink driving or attempting to drive unfit

Dangerous Driving - man drink drivingDrink driving is considered one of the most severe types of driving offences. Being found guilty of drink driving while above the legal limit will result in punishment that could affect the rest of your life. As soon as you are aware you need to attend court, you should arrange legal assistance as they can help to improve your chances of avoiding a prison sentence.

Lowest drink driving penalty 

If you oversee a vehicle whilst over the legal alcohol limit, you may not necessarily receive a driving ban. However, this depends on the decision made by the court. If you are found guilty of driving or attempting to drive over the limit, the minimum disqualification period is one year. Furthermore, the lowest fine you can receive is band A. However, this is dependent on your income status. There are various other bands which are used to ensure fairness within the law, such as: 

A: 50% of relevant weekly income (between 25 – 75% of relevant weekly income)

B: 100% of relevant weekly income (75 – 125% of relevant weekly income)

C: 150% of relevant weekly income (125 – 175% of relevant weekly income)

D: 250% of relevant weekly income (200 – 300% of relevant weekly income)

E: 400% of relevant weekly income (300 – 500% of relevant weekly income)

F: 600% of relevant weekly income (500 – 700% of relevant weekly income)

Highest drink driving penalty 

The maximum sentence for a drink driving offence is an unlimited fine and/or six month’s custody. Furthermore, if the driving offence was drive/ attempt to drive, the driver will lose their license for at least 12 months.

There are various other problems which stem from a drink driving offence which you may not realise. A conviction will mean your car insurance cost will increase if you drive for work, and your employer will also see your conviction on your license. Furthermore, you may have trouble gaining access to countries like the USA with a conviction on your record.

Mitigating circumstances 

It is vital if you have been caught drinking driving that you seek help from a solicitor. A solicitor will be able to evaluate your circumstances and assess if mitigating circumstances are applicable. There are various mitigating circumstances a solicitor can use, some of which include:

  1. No previous convictions or relevant/recent convictions.
  2. The individual showed remorse or was good of a character.
  3. If it was a genuine emergency.
5. Knowing the vehicle’s faulty or unsafe to drive

Dangerous driving offence

Driving a vehicle with dangerous defects is a serious crime and type of dangerous driving. It can seriously affect your license with penalty points totting up easily after every offence. Each offence carries the potential for three penalty points. Therefore, if you have four bald tyres, you could lose your driving license.

The regulations set for vehicle defects affects both private vehicle users and companies. The most common dangerous vehicle offences include:

Faulty Lights 

One of the most common vehicle’s defects is faulty lights, especially the rear lights and brake lights. This is usually because the driver is unaware that the vehicle has become defective.

Bald tyres

Another common defect is bald tyres. Bald tyres are a more severe offence and refer to the types of treading being below the legal threshold.

Defective brakes on a vehicle 

It is essential if you are driving that you ensure your brakes work sufficiently and pose no risk to you or others’ safety. The police only must prove that one element of your braking system does not work to prosecute you as guilty of driving with defective breaks.

Minimum penalty

If you have been caught with a relatively minor vehicle defect, you can expect to receive a vehicle defect rectification notice (VDRS). The VDRS is the minimum penalty you can expect to receive for minor defects such as cracked light lenses, blown bulbs, or worn tyres. A VDRS allows you to fix the vehicle to avoid prosecution.

The VDRS covers a wide variety of vehicles including motor vehicles, trailers or caravans towed by cars. If you have been given a VDRS then you have 14 days to rectify the defects and provide evidence, you have done so. Furthermore, this is typically presented in the form of an MOT. If you fail to provide the evidence, you will be prosecuted and potentially be at risk of hefty fines and penalty points.

Maximum penalty

The maximum fine for Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) or Passenger Carrying Vehicles (PGV) is unlimited. Other types of vehicles carry a fine of up to £2,500. Furthermore, you can be disqualified from driving if the offence is committed within three years of a previous conviction for a similar crime.

You must seek legal advice if you are caught driving with vehicles defects as the court has the discretion to disqualify you from driving. A solicitor can help to persuade the court not to disqualify you and argue the lowest amount of penalty points in your favour.

6. Careless driving 

Dangerous Driving - Carless behaviourCarless driving refers to an individual driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on the road or public place without due care and attention. Additionally, it entails the person drove without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road. The offence is less serious than dangerous driving. 

There are various aspects which count as careless driving. The most common behaviours or poor manoeuvres include:

  1. Lane hogging
  2. Lane hopping and weaving.
  3. Smoking and driving
  4. Overtaking and causing an approaching vehicle to brake.
  5. Operating a satnav or reading a map.
  6. Tailgating
  7. Not giving way at a junction
  8. Overtaking on the inside
  9. Inappropriate speed
  10. Ignoring a lane closed sign.
what is the Minimum penalty for carleess driving?

The lowest penalty you can expect to receive from driving without due care and attention is a warning with no further action. However, more commonly, you will receive a fixed penalty with an offer of educational training.

what is the Maximum penalty for careless driving?

If your case goes to court the maximum penalty you can receive is a fine of £5,000, and 3-9 points on your license. Furthermore, they may also penalise you with a discretionary disqualification. There are five different way the police can decide to deal with careless driving offences depending on the severity. Please see the table below for more information with regards to the likely outcomes.





A warning


No further action


Fixed penalty with an offer of educational training


Accept the penalty, or Accept and attend the course. If you refuse or fail to complete the course and don’t accept the penalty, you’ll be summonsed. You can then either plead guilty and accept the court fine or not guilty and have the case heard in the Magistrates Court.


Fixed penalty


Accept the penalty, or Accept Request a summons and either plead guilty and accept the court fine or not guilty and have the case heard in Court.




Plead guilty and accept the fine, or plead not guilty and have the case heard in Court.


Summons with an offer of educational training Accept and attend the course, or refuse the course and request a hearing
7. Using your mobile behind the wheel

Dangerous driving offence man on mobile

If you use a mobile phone while driving you are breaking the law. It is dangerous driving behaviour and leads to thousands of deaths every year. Furthermore, it is also unlawful if you are a passenger supervising a learner driver. Mobile phone driving laws were introduced in December 2003, and from 2007 driver caught would incur three points on their license and a fine of £60. Since 2007 the penalty has increasingly got more expensive, the last change increased the fine to £200 and drivers are now awarded six points on their licence. The RAC report which focused on Motoring in 2019 discovered that 23% of drivers confessed to having made, or received a call on a handheld phone when driving.

When the police catch you with your mobile phone driving, you will be issued a CU80 mobile penalty. The CU80 penalty does not just result in you gaining points on your licence and a fine. It can result in your insurance premiums, increasing up to 40%. Furthermore, some car insurance providers may refuse to insure a driver who carries a CU80 mobile offence.

When can you use your phone?

If your mobile phone is fully operational hand-free your legally allowed to use the device, so long as you do not touch it. Any hand-free device you use needs to be set up before driving, so you do not have to touch the phone when driving.

What is the lowest penalty for using a mobile while driving?

As a result of many offenders who use their mobiles when driving, you can expect to receive a minimum penalty of a £200 fine and six penalty points on your licence. If you decide to reject the penalty and ask for a court hearing, you will be posed to the risk of higher fines. It is therefore essential you seek legal advice.

To be found not guilty of a handheld mobile phone related driving offence, you need to prove a doubt. Proving a doubt can be done through strong evidence you were not using your phone and that the police officer was wrongfully mistaken. An officer may refuse to look at your phones devise usage history to verify your call files in some cases. If this is the case, it can be used to your advantage in trial. The police are by law carrying out a proper investigation, meaning they must look for evidence that proves the driving offence and evidence that points away from a driving crime being committed. If the officer is cross-examined at court, it can provide a reason for doubt as the person offered to check the history of the phone and failed to do so.

What is the Maximum penalty for using a mobile while driving?

The high severity penalty for driving while using a mobile device is a £1,000 fine. Furthermore, you can receive 6 points on your driving license. If you were operating a bus, coach, or heavy goods vehicle, you could receive a fine of £2,500. Furthermore, the court can also decide to impose a discretionary driving ban if it seems fitting based on the evidence at hand.

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