Driving without due care and attention (also known as “careless driving”) is a common traffic offence on UK roads. But what’s considered driving without due care and attention? Is it the same as “dangerous driving”? And what happens if you get pulled over?
We’ve got all the info below.
What is considered driving without due care and attention?
Under UK law (Section Three of The Road Traffic Act 1988), driving without due care and attention is defined as:
- driving that falls below the standard expected of a competent driver; or,
- driving that does not show reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or pathways.
Either way, you can be found guilty of driving without due care and attention if you fail to control your vehicle or fail to consider your fellow road users (including pedestrians, cyclists, and horseback riders).
You can be pulled over and charged with careless driving for various reasons — even if your car doesn’t make contact with another vehicle, person, or object.
Here are some examples of driving without due care and attention:
- Driving through a red light
- Ignoring road signs
- Not giving way when appropriate
- Using the wrong lane at a roundabout
- Swerving across lanes
- Driving into the path of another vehicle after emerging from a side road
- Following too closely behind another driver or driving aggressively
- Hogging the middle lane on the motorway
- Undertaking another vehicle
- Overtaking and causing other vehicles to apply their brakes
- Following too closely behind another driver (also known as tailgating)
- Handbrake turns
- Driving while eating or drinking
- Driving while smoking
- Changing a CD or focusing on your media controls instead of the road
- Adjusting the radio while driving
- Focusing on your Sat Nav instead of the road
- Multitasking while driving (for example, reading a paper map or directions)
- Adjusting your seat while driving
- Getting distracted by your passengers
- Colliding with a pedestrian
Is driving without care and attention a criminal offence?
Yes, it is.
If you’re convicted of driving without due care and attention, the court will “endorse” your driving record with penalty points. The endorsement will stay on your record for between 4 and 11 years, depending on the seriousness of the offence.
Each offence has its own endorsement code. Driving without care and attention is CD10 and carries between 3 and 9 penalty points.
Other codes under the “careless driving” umbrella include:
- CD20 – Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users
- CD30 – Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users
- CD33 – Causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving
These codes also carry between 3 and 9 penalty points. Codes CD10 to CD33 must stay on a driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
Note: Endorsement codes and processes are different in Northern Ireland.
Is using my mobile phone while driving classed as careless driving?
It used to be, but now it’s a separate offence.
Driving while using a mobile phone is considered a “construction and use offence” and has the endorsement code CU80. You can be slapped with between 3 and 6 penalty points on your licence if found guilty.
Other construction and use offences include:
- Driving with defective brakes (CU10)
- Using a vehicle with defective tyres (CU30)
- Using a vehicle with defective steering (CU40)
These codes must stay on a driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
Is driving without due care and attention the same as dangerous driving?
No. Careless driving and dangerous driving are two separate offences.
As we mentioned above, careless driving is when the standard of driving falls below that expected of a competent driver. If you fail to show reasonable control or consideration for other road users, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention.
On the other hand, dangerous driving is when your behaviour behind the wheel could pose a danger to your safety and the safety of others.
Reckless and dangerous driving offences carry between 3 and 11 penalty points and include:
- DD10 – Causing serious injury by dangerous driving
- DD40 – Dangerous driving
- DD60 – Manslaughter or culpable homicide while driving a vehicle
- DD80 – Causing death by dangerous driving
Dangerous driving also covers driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (endorsement codes DR and DG, respectively).
Is driving barefoot illegal?
Driving while barefoot is not illegal in the UK. However, if your decision to get behind the wheel sans shoes causes you to lose control of your vehicle, you could be charged with driving without due care and attention.
You can read more about the rules and recommendations regarding driving footwear here: Is it Illegal to Drive Barefoot in the UK?
What happens if I’m caught driving without due care and attention?
The penalties for driving without due care and attention will vary depending on why you were pulled over. The more careless you were, the heavier the penalty.
Usually, driving without due care and attention will result in a fixed-penalty notice (FPN). This typically means three points added to your driving licence and a £100 fine. However, some police forces will offer a driver education course as an alternative (more on that below).
If you disagree with the FPN and wish to protest your innocence, you can request a court hearing. But be aware that if the judge doesn’t find in your favour, you’ll be on the hook for legal fees as well as a fine.
And if the offence falls into a more serious category — for example, you endangered the lives of other drivers or pedestrians, or you caused an accident or collision — you’ll be issued with a court summons.
The maximum penalty for careless driving is 9 points on your licence and a £5,000 fine. You may also be disqualified from driving for a set period of time, which will be determined by the judge and reflect the seriousness of your offence.
What happens if I’ve recently passed my test and I’m charged with careless driving?
If you’re still within two years of passing your driving test, you could face serious consequences for careless driving.
Any more than six points within those initial two years of driving will result in an automatic ban, and you’ll be required to retake both your theory and practical driving tests.
Can I get a course for driving without due care and attention?
Yes, you can. Depending on where you are in the UK and the seriousness of your offence, some police forces will give you the option of a National Driver Improvement Course instead of a fine.
These courses cost around £100 to £120 and take around a day and a half to complete.
Once you’ve completed the course, the police should confirm that the matter is resolved and the case against you is closed.
Note: If you’re caught driving without due care and attention, and you’ve completed one of these courses within the past three years, you will not be eligible for a place on another course
To recap, driving without due care and attention is when your standard of driving falls below that expected of a competent driver. And if you fail to show any consideration for your fellow road users, you could be charged with careless driving.
The penalty for careless driving depends on the severity of the offence. For more minor examples, you’ll be faced with a £100 fine and three points on your licence. But if your carelessness behind the wheel borders on the dangerous, this can increase to 9 points, a maximum penalty of £5,000, and a potential driving ban.
Finally, if you get caught and charged with driving without due care and attention, it could also cause your car insurance costs to increase, too.