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Dangerous Driving

Road Traffic Act 1988, Section 2: Dangerous Driving

Dangerous driving is a serious offence, normally prosecuted at Sheriff Court level in Scotland. Justices of the Peace are not permitted to preside over cases of this nature, perhaps thankfully, due to insufficient sentencing powers. If your dangerous driving case is to be prosecuted in Glasgow, you will probably find yourself within the Justice of the Peace Court however your case will be considered by a Stipendiary Magistrate. Otherwise the case will be prosecuted in one of the other 45 Sheriff Courts in Scotland.

Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited provide representation throughout Scotland with offices situated in Glasgow and Dumfries. Distance is never an impediment to requesting our expert assistance.

We are proud to assert that we have successfully defended hundreds of dangerous driving prosecutions and our formidable reputation is amply vouched for by what previous clients have to say about the Firm.

Dangerous Driving PenaltiesThe minimum penalty, if convicted, of an offence under Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is an obligatory twelve month disqualification from holding or obtaining a driving licence. There is also an associated order to sit the extended test of competency to drive. It is worth noting that this represents the sentencing starting point and more serious cases can result in the imposition of a custodial sentence, including up to two years on indictment. Your vehicle may also be forfeited in connection with the proceedings, subject to successful application by the Crown.

The Process

Whilst there may be a common perception of what constitutes dangerous driving, there is a strict two stage test applied by the Courts in Scotland. Firstly the Crown requires to prove that the standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a reasonable and competent driver. Thereafter it needs to be demonstrated that it would be obvious to such a driver that the manner of driving is dangerous.

This definition may seem to be unnecessarily complicated, however it is essentially for the Sheriff or Stipendiary Magistrate to consider the evidence as a whole and assess whether the offence has been proved by the Crown beyond reasonable doubt.

At the time of writing, there are three verdicts in Scots Law: guilty, not guilty and not proven. The effect of the latter two verdicts is identical, namely you would be acquitted of dangerous driving.

Dangerous Driving Charges Explained

Dangerous driving charges can involve various factors. Cases involving grossly excessive speeds can be prosecuted as dangerous driving however it is important to note that speed in itself can only be relied upon in exceptional cases in the absence of any other actual or potential dangers.

We have successfully defended cases involving speeds in excess of 120mph, the highest being 140mph. Our definition of success in these examples is an outright acquittal. No plea negotiation to a reduced speed, no plea to a reduced charge of careless driving but a not guilty after trial. Our extensive experience conducting speed based prosecutions is there to be used to the advantage of our clients.

Another common form of dangerous driving charge are those which involve impatient driving often culminating in an overtaking manoeuvre that goes wrong.

The law is keen to recognise that it will often be insufficient for the Crown to rely upon a momentary lapse of judgment in order to achieve a conviction. Furthermore the prosecution of dangerous driving in Scotland is not a mathematical equation. Put in simple terms, three examples of driving without due care and attention as part of the same course of conduct does not justify the Crown to seek and obtain a conviction for dangerous driving.

There are various technical issues which will always be considered as a matter of routine. It is important, in certain circumstances, that an appropriate warning is issued within 14 days following the commission of the offence. There is a statutory presumption of compliance which operates in favour of the Crown and therefore it is imperative that any legal submission on the basis of deficient warning is both identified and properly argued.

The stage at which a plea of guilty is entered is now a relevant consideration in road traffic cases. Historically, no discount would be applied to either the level of endorsement or length of disqualification for early pleas of guilty however an accused is now eligible for a discount if the plea is tendered at an early stage in the proceedings.

Whilst this clarification in the law has affected our advice in relation to some cases, it is our considered view that dangerous driving charges in Scotland will continue to be fully defended as experience dictates that our clients primary concern is avoiding a period of disqualification.


We are often asked about success rates and it is always a question that can cause some discomfort amongst the Solicitors of the Firm.

Whilst we could easily brag and boast of our outstanding track record, it would not be relevant to your case for the very simple reason that each case is different. We also consider it inappropriate and misleading to quote success rates for the defence of criminal road traffic prosecutions. Please take the time to browse our testimonial section which should demonstrate the level of representation you can expect from Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited.

There may be similarities between dangerous driving prosecutions however no two cases are the same. Experience and our high standard of professionalism dictate that any potential client has to be properly and openly advised at all times.

If you are looking for a guaranteed outcome or attracted by the glitter of target success rates, then we may not be the best Firm to deal with your case. You may however also find that on the day of your trial your alternative choice of road traffic Solicitor may not be so optimistic about your prospects.

Michael Lyon is in the unique position of only having dealt with the defence of road traffic cases since 2007. The Firm is in a similarly unique in that it is not connected to any general criminal practice.

Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited already has the proven track record. We are proud to be free of the constraints of legal aid and have no interest in any other type of work.

The recent proliferation of law Firms in Scotland professing a similar degree of specialism in road traffic cases can only be taken as a compliment. We are keen however to ensure that potential clients who demand the highest level of representation are not misled by claims of success rate targets and hollow guarantees.