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Dangerous Driving

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lonedad | 16:17 Wed 29th Apr 2009 | Criminal
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I just want peoples opinion on this. I am to face a jury next week on the charge of dangerous driving. In 2007, I was involved in a RTA. I was driving an 18 tonne truck on a motorway where I was approaching a queue of traffic (some distance away, probably over 150 yards). I realised it was a queue for the next junction so decided to change lanes. I was sitting on cruise control at 56mph (top speed and speed limited) I looked in my drivers side mirror to check for traffic. . I then looked over to my blind spot, and pressed my brake to disengage the cruise control and then saw a car so I cancelled my intention to move over and pressed the brake again to slow the truck down. I noticed that my truck was not slowing at all and I pressed the brake again to no avail. I panicked thinking that my brakes had gone. The vehicle at the back of the queue (a white van) was getting nearer and nearer. I quickly checked the hard shoulder to see that it was clear. I then swerved my vehicle towards it. Unfortunatly, by this time, a car had replaced the van at the back of the queue (the van was in front of the car so obviously had jumped in front of me). I hit the car en route to the hard shoulder and my truck came to a stop 100 yards from the impact site. After checks on the truck, it was discovered that there were no faults. It dawned on me that I must have pressed the accelerator instead of the brake. 2 people were seriously hurt in the accident and, after a year, I was charged with Dangerous Driving. My solicitor advised me to plead not guilty but now Im not so sure. Ive been reading alot of reports on the internet that people are being done for this but others are having the lesser charge of Undue Care for the manner of driving that I believe is far worse than what I did. Is this dangerous driving? I believed that Dangerous Driving was an intentional act like reading a map, speeding, racing and being avoidably distracted as these are calculated risks that drivers take.

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Hi lonedad:

I can understand your obvious concern because there is a significant difference in driving deemed to be careless and that deemed to be dangerous. The main one being that you, at Crown Court, could be imprisoned on conviction for dangerous (up to 2 years, plus licence endorsement, probably 12 month endorsement, plus to remain disqualified until further driving test taken and passed.) but not for careless.

I would hope that your Solicitor has explained all the ramifications to you by now? Perhaps s/he has and that's why you were advised to plead not guilty.

Would I be right in thinking that the prosecution has witnesses to your alleged dangerous driving? I'm not talking about who you hit, but other motorists/drivers not actually involved in the collision? If so, it could be their evidence which has persuaded/compelled the prosecution to have you charged with dangerous, as opposed to careless, driving.

Believe it or not, it doesn't take much to raise the bar, so to speak, from careless to dangerous driving. There are many factors to be considered and I couldn't begin to guess how to advise you further without knowing the full facts.

What I would say is this: your Solicitor is there to represent, advise and defend you, and if they have recommended that you plead not guilty, they are presumably doing so from the point of view that they are privy to the available evidence. It would be an incompetent one who did so on mere whim. And don't forget to insist on speaking to your defence Barrister prior to entering the courtroom. It could prove invaluable to you and his/her advice should definitely be heeded.
Good luck.

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They have no physical witness' even though it was rush hour and on a busy motorway. No CCTV. The people involved in the accident "say" they dont remember anything. As far as i am concerned, its my word against no ones.

i just want to know why the CPS feel that an unitentional mistake deems such a severe punishment. I dont mean a mistake like a bad decision or a risk/gamble decision, I mean a genuine and innocent mistake like mine.

Personally, I believe speeding is the most dangerous thing you could possibly do in a car yet most get away with points and a small fine. These people know what they are doing, they know the risks and they know its a gamble.
Hi lonedad,

I can't answer your question but I'll be thinking of you next week and wishing you all the best. Chin up x
Hi again:

I'm slightly surprised that there are no other witnesses given that this occurred on a busy motorway during rush hour.

Be that as it may, I could only take a wild guess that the fact that you were doing 56mph in an 18 tonne truck approaching a stationary queue of traffic only about 150 yards ahead has suggested to the CPS and Police that you were driving far too quickly given all the relevant road conditions, proximity and volume of traffic etc etc.

You don't say whether it was in daylight or darkness, what visibility was like, what the weather was like, any roadworks etc, any of which could have contributed to the cause of the collision.
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You pressed the accelerator when you should have pressed the brake? Should you really be driving at all?
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lesblue - Been driving 15 years and have never had an accident nor had an endorsement on my licence. I think that proves that this can happen to anyone. Especially considering the fact that I am an ex military driver and have undertook many of their defensive driving courses. Please, do not throw stones. I would have said the same as you two years ago "id never do that" but mistakes happen! I suppose youve never made a dumb mistake in your life?

Zacsmaster - Would you like to elaborate? Yes it did only dawn on me after we found out the mechanics report. there was no reason for me to believe that I did something like that. See above comment to lesblue.

paraffin - 150 yards is a guess mate. Im trying to picture the length in golf courses or football pitches but Im finding it difficult what with all the panic and the fact that I was moving. this is one point that is seriously annoying me because I really dont want to have to guess the distance as its so important. What I meant by noticing the traffic ahead was that I noticed the vehicles slowing down and stopping by seeing their brake lights. All other lanes were free flowing. It was about 8am and quite bright that day.



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Oh and thanks CAJ. Aint gonna have much hope if I have people like lesblue and zacsmaster in the jury.
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But is it dangerous driving or undue care and attention? Some are being convicted of the former, some of the latter. If you were a member of a jury, what would your verdict be?
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How do you know that no driver of my experience and training would ever make that mistake? There are police drivers and ambulance drivers who make worse mistakes than what I did.
The CPS website states that

A person drives dangerously when:

the way they drive falls far below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver;

and

it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/fact_sheets/dangero us_driving/

Whether that applies in your case I can't say because I have not heard both sides of the story.

The Judge will explain to the jury exactly what they have to be sure of (beyond a reasonable doubt) before they can find you guilty.
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Rollo - this is why I pleaded not guilty because I do not believe my driving fell FAR below and it cannot be obvious as I would have noticed it myself. This is what I dont get about this charge, its such a debatable and objective charge that there can never be any kind of consistancy with find someone guilty or not guilty.
I have pleaded not guilty to this but theres just as much chance that I will be found guilty and have a much more severe punishment because of my plea. Because its so objective the opposite could be true too. Someone could plead guilty to it but if they hadnt they could be found not guilty.
This is why Ive come here, to see what everyone else thinks. My heads hurting badly.
If you believe you are not guilty then that is how you should plead.

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Zacsmaster - No. I was on cruise control which was set at 56mph. My truck has a speed limited fitted which is also set at 56mph. This would prevent any revs and would not allow the cruise control to switch off. Both expert witness' (my mechanic and the police mechanic) have both confirmed this. This is why I had no reason to believe that I did this. At the time, all I thought was that my brakes had gone and that I needed to get off the motorway which I did, but I have no idea why the car driver decided to push in front of me...no suprise really considering it happens all the time.
Hi again:

Easy for me to say but, try to ignore the ignorant comments and stop getting yourself into a frazzle about them. There are the "holier than thou" contributors on some of these threads who have never stepped out of line in their puff (not!)

From the further information I can guess (again) that the Police would have closed off a section of the motorway whilst they examined the scene, and they no doubt took various measurements, and it is more than likely that the outcome of that and your speed, i.e. the skid marks etc, gave them sufficient cause to prefer the more serious charge.

However, I still feel that you may be best served by heeding the advice of your Solicitor and/or Barrister. And it wouldn't be unusual for a defendant to change his/her plea during a trial.
Rather than guess the distances why not go back and look?
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Rollo - Thats what I wanted to do but because its so objective, I need to make 12 other people see my point of view which they may not. As paraffin said, there is not much that can raise the bar between undue care and dangerous driving. I could get punished more if found guilty because I had a different stand point to them.
Is there another charge out there that can be so objective? Most charges are you either done it or you havent, not well its borderline this or that. This charge is too serious to be so objective.

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