Speed Detection Device Not Needed for Dangerous Driving Charge
If you are charged with dangerous driving on the grounds of grossly excessive speed, the Procurator Fiscal does not have to determine your precise speed to secure a conviction.
Dangerous driving Scotland
Dangerous driving is when the standard of driving falls far below what is expected of a competent and careful driver. It should also be obvious to a careful and competent driver that driving in this manner is dangerous.
Examples of dangerous driving include –
- Running red lights
- Overtaking in the face of oncoming traffic
- Ignoring traffic signs and driving while distracted
Another example is travelling at excessive speed where there are actual or potential risks to other road users or pedestrians
Dangerous driving and speeding
Speeding and dangerous driving are two separate offences. Dangerous driving is considered much more serious and carries heavier penalties. You might wonder, therefore, when you might be charged with dangerous driving rather than speeding.
It all depends on the circumstances. To be found guilty of dangerous driving, you must have been travelling at excessive speed. There must also have been a risk to other road users or pedestrians.
So, if you are caught driving along a quiet road at 35mph in a 30mph zone, you are likely to be charged with speeding. But if you are caught driving at 60mph in a 30mph zone and there’s a school nearby, you are likely to be charged with dangerous driving.
Poor weather conditions and reduced visibility can also prompt the police to report circumstances pointing to a charge of dangerous driving, rather than speeding. For instance, if you drive at excessive speeds down a motorway in heavy fog, this could be considered dangerous. There is a belief that a speed of over 100mph on a motorway will give rise to a dangerous driving charge. Whilst that is, generally speaking, correct, lower speeds in adverse weather or road conditions will also be likely to give rise to such a charge.
Is a speed detection device needed?
If you are charged with dangerous driving on the grounds of travelling at excessive speed, the prosecution does not need to establish the precise speed at which you were driving. Many people are surprised to learn this.
Instead, the court must be satisfied that the police witnesses are experienced and can give what the court accepts as evidence of excessive speed based on their experience. For a conviction for dangerous driving, the court must also accept the police officers’ evidence when they say the driver was travelling at excessive speed in a manner that posed a danger to other road users or pedestrians.
This differs to a charge of speeding, where an accurate measurement from a speed detection device is needed. Speed detection devices are not infallible. It is possible to pursue a defence based on the inaccuracy of a device, perhaps because it has not been calibrated properly.
Because the Procurator Fiscal does not have to prove the exact speed at which you were travelling in relation to a dangerous driving charge, this line of defence is not open to you. However, there are other ways to defend a dangerous driving charge.
Contact us now
At Donnachie Law, we can devise the best defence strategy for you. One option may be to negotiate a guilty plea to a lesser charge, such as careless driving.
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