Driving offences and penalties - The UK Road Traffic Act 1988

A summary of the main driving offences and penalties under The UK Road Traffic Act 1988:

Causing death by dangerous driving

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 1

"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."

  • Triable on indictment
  • Maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment
  • Obligatory disqualification – minimum two years
  • Compulsory re-test.

Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 2B

"A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, is guilty of an offence."

  • Triable either way
  • Maximum sentence of five years' imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment
  • Obligatory disqualification – minimum one year
  • Discretionary re-test.

Causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 3A

"If a person [is careless - see definition above of causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving] ... and a) he is, at the time when he is driving, unfit to drive through drink or drugs, or b) he has consumed so much alcohol that the proportion of it in his breath, blood or urine at that time exceeds the prescribed limit, or c) he is, within 18 hours after that time, required to provide a specimen in pursuance of section 7 of this Act, but without reasonable excuse fails to provide it, or d) he is required by a constable to give his permission for a laboratory test of a specimen of blood taken from him under section 7A of this Act, but without reasonable excuse fails to do so, he is guilty of an offence."

  • Triable on indictment
  • Maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment
  • Obligatory disqualification - minimum two years
  • Compulsory re-test.

Dangerous driving

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 2

"A person who drives a mechanically propelled vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence."

  • Triable either way
  • Maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment
  • Obligatory disqualification
  • Compulsory re-test.

Causing serious injury by dangerous driving

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 1A(2)

“The offence is committed when the manner of the defendants driving is dangerous and results in another person suffering a serious physical injury.”

"Serious injury" is defined as "physical harm which amounts to grievous bodily harm for the purposes of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861".
In magistrates court, carries a level 5 fine and/or 6 months custody with a mandatory disqualification period of at least 2 years (unless special reasons are found not to disqualify) and endorsement.

In Crown Court, the maximum penalty is 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine with a mandatory 2 year minimum period of disqualification (unless special reasons are found not to disqualify) and endorsement
Compulsory extended re-test.

Careless and inconsiderate driving

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 3

"If a person drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or place, he is guilty of an offence."

  • Triable summarily
  • Maximum fine of £5,000
  • Discretionary disqualification
  • Licence endorsement of 3-9 penalty points.

Failing to stop or report an accident

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 170(4)

"The driver of the mechanically propelled vehicle must stop and, if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring, give his name and address and also the name and address of the owner and the identification marks of the vehicle. If for any reason the driver of the mechanically propelled vehicle does not give his name and address ... he must report the accident ... A person who fails to comply with ... [the] above is guilty of an offence."

  • Triable summarily
  • Maximum sentence of six months' imprisonment and/or a fine
  • Discretionary disqualification
  • Licence endorsement of 5-10 penalty points.

Our motor prosecution team can represent you and your insurer where there has been a road traffic accident. We are committed to achieving the best possible outcome for you and your insurer and we have an excellent record of acquittals and discontinuances.