Is endorsing a driving licence with eight points for tailgating manifestly excessive?

The Sheriff appeal court in Scotland thinks not and anyone who has been subjected to this course of driving will no doubt cheer the outcome.

In December 2014, Mark McInally was driving on the M90 and very close to the vehicle in front.

He was originally charged with contravening section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, namely dangerous driving.

However, the prosecutor accepted the appellant’s plea of guilty to a reduced charge of contravening section 3 of the Act: driving without due care and attention.

A court then fined him £225 plus eight points and he appealed.

In the note of appeal it was submitted that the Sheriff erred in his assessment of the appellant’s driving, which he indicated was “ridiculous” and might have led to a serious accident.

It was also suggested that the number of points issued should have been discounted. The points range for the offence is three to nine.

Counsel for the appellant argued that in the absence of other aggravating factors such as undertaking and changing lanes it was at the lower end of careless driving and did not merit a starting point of eight points.

The appeal court disagreed.

Tailgating, it said, “is not momentary inattention or distraction but instead any driver who drives in this manner deliberately courts danger. The degree of culpability is high.”

It added: “To drive so close to the vehicle in front gives little or no chance of being able to stop without causing a collision. This is aggressive and irresponsible driving…we consider that the sentence imposed of eight penalty points and a modest fine was lenient.”

It was also pointed out that the sheriff had given McInally a “generously discounted penalty” by not deciding to disqualify him for the offence.

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