Don't automatically assume, just because you intend to plead guilty to an driving offence, that you don't need a solicitor at court. There are many situations where you may be able to avoid or reduce a penalty such as disqualification.
Penalty points and disqualification
Whilst some motoring offences carry automatic disqualification, or give the Courts power to disqualify if they think fit, 6 months automatic disqualification also occurs when a driver picks up a total of 12 penalty points within 3 years – known as ‘totting up’. Just one brief lapse of concentration can lose you your licence – with devastating consequences for many people. Penalty points are imposed for a number of relatively minor driving offences e.g. simple speeding may carry as little as 3 penalty points.
However in highly limited circumstances it is possible to avoid a driving ban even after getting 12 penalty points – our expert team have regularly used ‘special reasons’, exceptional hardship and mitigating circumstances as reasons to keep the driving licences of many clients.
Whilst every case is different we give you the option of a fixed fee for most motoring cases – so you know exactly how much you have to pay. We accept debit and credit cards and act for individuals and both large and small businesses.
Careless driving, or driving without due care and attention, is widely defined. Broadly the offence is committed by someone driving below the standard expected of a reasonable driver. The offence can take place not only on public roads but also anywhere else where the public has access. You don’t even have to be driving a car – any mechanically propelled vehicle will do.
3–9 penalty points and a fine of up to £2500. Magistrates also have discretion to consider disqualification.
This is an extremely serious offence, carrying an automatic minimum disqualification of one year and a risk of imprisonment. It covers the situation where the standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a careful driver and it would be obvious to a careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
Magistrates Court: up to £5,000 fine and maximum 6 month prison sentence.
Most speeding offences (and there were 1.92 million speeding tickets issued in 2005) go unchallenged and motorists frequently accept speeding convictions without attending court or seeing the evidence against them. Don’t assume that police evidence or photo evidence can never be challenged – they can. To convict, the court must be satisfied the case is proved beyond reasonable doubt – if you think police evidence may not be correct – contact our Solicitors. Speed cameras need to be properly placed, its users properly trained and proper procedure followed. Speeding fines arising from speed cameras are usually dealt with by way of a fixed penalty fine with no need,except in totting up cases,for representation by a solicitor.
3-8 penalty points. Conviction can result in a driving ban for the offence alone, in addition to the risk of disqualification for ‘totting up’ 12 penalty points, and a fine of up to £1000.
Drink driving carries an automatic minimum 12 month driving ban and a fine up to £5,000. On very rare occasions it may be possible to challenge a conviction or automatic disqualification. Our road traffic solicitors have helped some clients keep their licences on procedural grounds or by successfully arguing that, for example, the alleged offence did not occur on a road or public place, or that alcohol consumption after driving caused the high reading.
A driver banned for at least 12 months for driving with excess alcohol may be offered a Drink Drive Rehabilitation Course – which when successfully completed can reduce any ban by up to a quarter.
The penalty varies according to the alcohol level. The minimum disqualification is 1 year with a fine of up to £5,000. More serious levels of intoxication (broadly three times the legal alcohol limit of 35µg of alcohol in 100ml of breath and above) causes Magistrates to consider a prison sentence of up to 6 months. A second alcohol related offence in 10 years increases the minimum ban to 3 years.
Driving without insurance
This carries a minimum of 6 penalty points and is "a strict liability offence", i.e. once it is established you were driving without insurance there is generally no defence. Problems can occur when employees drive company cars – employers can be prosecuted for the offence of having no insurance if the employee driving a company vehicle was uninsured – any employer or employee in that situation should contact our Raod traffic Solicitors immediately as there are certain limited defences to such charges.
6–8 penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000. Magistrates can also disqualify.
Mobile phone offences
Since February 2007 using a hand-held mobile whilst driving has attracted penalty points – you commit the offence even if you are sitting stationary in traffic – unless you have switched off your engine. Recent Crown Prosecution Service guidelines show a clear intention to tighten up mobile phone prosecutions. Read more about Solicitors Warn Motorists of Increased Risk of Prosection
The only defence is when the driver uses a mobile phone to make a 999 call in the case of genuine emergency and when it is unsafe or impractical to stop.
3 penalty points and a fine.
Where a motoring offence carries an automatic ban, the driver will only avoid disqualification by proving ‘special reasons’. That ‘special reason’ is a factor special to the offence and cannot be something special to the driver. ‘Spiking’ a drink, or a genuine emergency are among the most common special reasons.
Proving special reasons is tricky and technical – if your case may involve special reasons do contact one of our road traffic solicitors.
A driver facing a ban for ‘totting-up’ may be able to avoid disqualification by arguing that they would suffer ‘exceptional hardship’ as a result. Common grounds for proving ‘exceptional hardship’ include the driver inevitably losing his job as a result of any driving ban and any hardship suffered by the driver’s family, employer or employees. The same grounds for exceptional hardship cannot be argued more than once in a 3 year period.
For expert legal advice contact one of our team of specialist road traffic solicitors based at our Amesbury office.