Driving without due care and attention

April 1, 2022

As innocent as it may seem to some drivers, eating or drinking behind the wheel or tuning in your car radio while driving is a driving offence in the UK called ‘driving without due care and attention’, also known as ‘inconsiderate driving’ or ‘careless driving’.

The law defines careless driving as “allowing the standard of driving to fall below that of a competent and careful driver” and, if caught, you could receive penalty points on your licence and a fine. More serious inconsiderate driving offences can result in a driving ban or imprisonment.

In this article, we explore what a careless driving offence is, what penalties you can receive and how a conviction can affect your car insurance.

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Sections:

What are examples of careless driving?

What happens if you are caught driving carelessly UK?

What is the penalty for driving without due care and attention if it goes to Court?

What are DVLA conviction code meanings for careless driving?

How will a CD Offence Code affect my car insurance?

Man driving whilst on phone

What are examples of careless driving?

Examples of where you might not be fully concentrating while driving resulting in you driving without due care and attention, acting inconsiderately or carelessly are:

  • Speeding or aggressive driving
  • Using a mobile phone
  • Ignoring road signs
  • Undertaking (i.e. overtaking on the inside lane)
  • Tailgating (i.e. driving too close to the vehicle in front)
  • Accidentally driving through a red light
  • Turning into the path of another vehicle
  • Flashing your headlights to give way
  • Misuse of driving lanes to get ahead of other drivers (i.e. ignoring closed lane signs)
  • Lane-hogging (i.e. staying too long in an overtaking lane without overtaking)
  • Driving unnecessarily slow and nowhere near the speed limit
  • Excessive and unnecessary braking
  • Using the incorrect lane on a roundabout
  • Swerving across lanes
  • Dazzling other drivers with full beam headlights
  • Eating or drinking while driving
  • Tampering with your sat nav, radio or infotainment system
  • Reading a map
  • Adjusting your seat
  • Allowing yourself to be distracted by other passengers
  • Being too tired to concentrate or falling asleep!
  • Driving contrary to medical advice (i.e. ignoring drug manufacturer advice)

Note: Some examples of careless or inconsiderate driving given above such as exceeding the speed limit (SP30) or mobile phone use behind the wheel (CU80) have different endorsement code classes (i.e. unlike almost all other types of careless driving offences, the driving offence codes for speeding and mobile phone use do not start with the letters ‘CD’).

A full list of Driving Offence Endorsement Codes (including SP and CU codes) and their penalty point ranges can be found in our blog: “Temporary car insurance for convicted drivers

What happens if you are caught driving carelessly UK?

What happens after you have been caught driving irresponsibly depends on the seriousness of the offence, whether you have been caught ‘live’ by a police officer or recorded on camera, and whether your actions caused an accident or injury.

  • If you’re lucky and the offence is deemed really minor, a police officer might just give you an ‘on the spot’ warning, or
  • you could be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) on the spot if a police officer witnessed the incident ‘live’ (or you could receive an FPN through the post), or
  • you may receive a conditional offer of fixed penalty through the post whereby you can choose between receiving 3 points on your Licence and a £100 fine, or you can instead pay for and attend a speed awareness course or a driver education course, or
  • you could receive a driving without due care and attention letter through the post called a “Notice of Intended Prosecution” (NIP) or a Court Summons requiring you to attend Court.

If you feel you have been wrongly accused and are not willing to accept the charge of careless driving being made against you, there are specialist motoring defence lawyers you can seek advice from and instruct to represent you, should you wish to defend yourself in Court.

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What is the penalty for driving without due care and attention if it goes to Court?

Driving without due care and attention points on your licence and the fine amount will be determined and imposed by the Magistrates’ Court.

According to the Sentencing Council’s guidelines, the penalty you receive will depend on many different factors such as:

  • The Offence Category: there are three categories of offence according to how serious the driving offence is, namely:
    • Category 1 - The most serious offence category meaning “higher culpability and great harm”
    • Category 2 - Meaning “higher culpability and lesser harm or lower culpability and greater harm”
    • Category 3 - The least serious offence category meaning “lower culpability and lesser harm”

  • Culpability factors:
    • Higher culpability factors include:
      • Excessive speed or aggressive driving
      • Carryout out other tasks while driving
      • Vehicle used for the carriage of heavy goods or for the carriage of passengers for reward
      • Tiredness or driving whilst unwell
      • Driving contrary to medical advice (including written advice from the drug manufacturer not to drive when taking any medicine)
  • Lower culpability factors include all other cases

  • Harm factors:
    • Greater harm factors include:
      • Injury to others
      • Damage to other vehicles or property
      • High level of traffic or pedestrians in vicinity
    • Lesser harm factors include all other cases

The Magistrates’ penalty point range and fine according to the seriousness of an offence category are set out in the table below.

Category

Fine starting point

Fine range

Disqualification or points

Category 1 150% of relevant weekly income 125-175% of relevant weekly income Disqualification or 7 - 9 points
Category 2 100% of relevant weekly income 75-125% of relevant weekly income 5 - 6 points
Category 3 50% of relevant weekly income 25-75% of relevant weekly income 3 - 4 points

Factors affecting the seriousness or to reflect the personal mitigation of the defendant that can make a Court decide to increase or decrease penalties and fines as they see fit include:

  • Previous convictions, nature of offence and time that has elapsed since
  • Failure to comply with current court orders
  • Offence committed on licence or post sentence supervision (i.e. probation)
  • No previous convictions or relevant or recent convictions
  • Remorse on the part of the offender
  • Previous good character and conduct

What are DVLA conviction code meanings for careless driving?

A CD10 conviction code is the least serious and most common careless driving conviction code. However, there are several other CD codes for varying types of offences as set out in the table below.

Code

Offence

Penalty Points

Years on Licence

CD10 Driving without due care and attention 3 - 9 4 from date of offence
CD20 Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users 3 - 9 4 from date of offence
CD30 Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users 3 - 9 4 from date of offence
CD40 Causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink 3 - 11 11 from date of conviction
CD50 Causing death by careless driving when unfit through drugs 3 - 11 11 from date of conviction
CD60 Causing death by careless driving with alcohol level above the limit 3 - 11 11 from date of conviction
CD70 Causing death by careless driving then failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis 3 - 11 11 from date of conviction
CD80 Causing death by careless, or inconsiderate, driving 3 - 11 4 from date of offence
CD90 Causing death by driving: unlicensed, disqualified or uninsured drivers 3 - 11 4 from date of offence

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How will a CD Offence Code affect my car insurance?

Any driving convictions must be disclosed to your insurer and not doing so could invalidate your insurance.

However, a CD driving conviction will of course affect the cost of your insurance premiums, depending on the number of penalty points you receive.

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For more details, check out our blogs: All you need to know about penalty points and how they affect your insurance and How driving convictions can affect the price of insurance