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Title: Charged for emergency braking

Date: 03 March 2014

Q. I was recently involved in an accident when the car in front of me made an emergency stop for no reason at all. Despite getting hard on the brakes my bike slid into the back of the car causing a fair bit of damage. I have since been notified that the police are charging me with dangerous driving which seems ridiculous though my solicitor tells me that may be dropped if I plead guilty to careless driving. What is the difference between the two, and how come I’m the one being charged with dangerous driving when it was clearly the car driver’s fault?

A.
Careless driving is generally the charge when there is a momentary lapse in concentration, a loss of control due to speed, or where there is an overtaking manoeuvre at speed which results in an accident. Although the penalty can range from 3-9 points and a fine, most cases tend to result in a penalty toward the lower end of that scale.

Dangerous driving is a far more serious offence and can result in a punishment up to and including a custodial sentence. Dangerous driving tends to be the charge when there is an indication that the Defendant has driven in a manner where it would have been obvious that there was a danger to other road users. A common example of this would be showing off by driving in a particular way, racing, or driving in an overly aggressive manner, so called “monstering”.

It would appear from your description of the accident that the police have interpreted your inability to stop as being evidence that you were intentionally riding too close to the car in front though in the circumstances that would seem to be a very harsh interpretation and if anything careless driving would seem to be a more appropriate charge.

Unfortunately charging a rider with dangerous driving and then settling for careless subject to agreeing a guilty plea is becoming a more common occurrence.

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