Revised Road Traffic policy is published

10 December 2020

The Public Prosecution Service has published an updated Policy for Prosecuting Road Traffic Offences. The document explains the approach of the PPS to a range of road traffic offences, including the applicable legislation and the evidence needed to prove the offence.

Given the large number of road traffic offences in statute, the policy focuses on the more serious offences commonly dealt with by prosecutors, including causing death or grievous bodily injury by dangerous driving, careless driving, and driving whilst unlicensed, uninsured or disqualified.

Dr Richard Scullion, Head of the Policy and Information Unit, welcomed the publication of the revised policy. He said:

“Road traffic offences constitute approximately 30% of all cases handled by the PPS and can range from relatively straightforward offending to complex and sensitive murder and manslaughter cases. This revised policy will provide clarity to the legal profession, the general public and most importantly the victims of road traffic offences as to how we prosecute such cases, and the range of offences that can occur on our roads.

“The policy helps to explain the challenges presented in prosecuting road traffic offences, particularly around the evidential standard expected to prove culpability, and we hope it will reassure the public that we are committed to robustly prosecuting what can often be extremely serious offences.”

The Policy for Prosecuting Road Traffic Offences explains in detail the distinction between careless and dangerous driving, including the provision of scenarios and examples to help guide prosecutors and explain the distinction to the general public.

The policy supersedes the existing Road Traffic Policy, first published in 2010. It has been significantly expanded and largely rewritten, and has been updated to reflect amendments suggested following a public consultation process in 2019-20. New chapters have also been added to address areas including the mode of trial for hybrid offences, the role of prosecutors in assisting the courts in terms of sentencing, the mutual recognition of international driving offences and young persons who offend.

The revised Road Traffic policy is available by clicking the link.