ROAD TRAFFIC OFFENCES
Have you been summonsed or charged with a Driving related matter?
If so, contact our team of specialists who will assist you in assessing the evidence and will advise you on the issue of plea and sentence.
If you are you being prosecuted for a Driving Offence then your driving licence is likely to be endorsed with penalty points or you could be disqualified from driving for a period of time.
Whether you have driven in excess of the speed limit, driven without insurance, used a mobile phone or committed any other motoring offence which attracts a discretionary/mandatory disqualification or penalty points, let us advise and represent you.
Whether you have pleaded guilty to an endorsable driving offence or have been convicted after a trial you may be entitled to advance Special Reasons.
Effectively, this is a means of mitigating the offence with the objective of persuading the Court that it would be unjust to impose penalty points, to reduce the number of penalty points or avoid a disqualification.
A special reason was defined in the case of Whittal v Kirby  as being special to the facts of the case and not the offender.
It is a mitigating/ extenuating circumstance, not amounting to a defence in law, yet it is directly connected with the offence and one which the Court ought properly to take in to consideration when imposing a punishment.
The following circumstances could constitute Special Reasons:
- A Medical Emergency – A situation arose where you would not have driven had it not been for a Medical Emergency relating to yourself or another.
- Laced Drinks – Your drink was laced and you unknowingly consumed alcohol/ drugs.
- A Short Distance Driven –Driving your car off a public road to park in your driveway whilst under the influence of alcohol.
- Misinformed Insurance – You may have been misled by your insurance provider or innocently misled by your spouse.
The onus remains with the Defendant to prove a Special Reason on the balance of probabilities and it is a complex area of law. It therefore requires careful preparation and presentation.
‘Totting Up’ & The Exceptional Hardship Argument
If you accumulate 12 or more points on your driver’s licence within a period of 3 years you become a ‘totter’ and are liable for an automatic disqualification for a period of 6 months (s.35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988).
A ‘totting’ disqualification can be reduced or avoided with a successful Exceptional Hardship legal argument. There is no statutory definition of Exceptional Hardship. It is for the Court to reach its own conclusion based on the case and circumstances presented before it.
If you have previously been disqualified from driving for a period of 56 days or more within the relevant three-year period, this would increase the minimum disqualification period from 6 to 12 months. If you have previously been disqualified from driving for a period of 56 days or more, on two occasions or more within the relevant three-year period, the disqualification for totting up would be increased to 2 years.
This is a complex area of law and it can be difficult to appreciate the issues that should be raised and what the significant matters are which could amount to Exceptional Hardship. In simple terms, an Exceptional Hardship argument is made to persuade the Court that despite endorsing the driver’s licence, a driving disqualification should not be imposed. Exceptional Hardship can include, but is not limited to;
- Loss of employment & the impact upon a third party
- Loss of accommodation
- Inability to pay bills, rent or mortgage
- Being the sole carer for an elderly person or child
A Defendant will usually be cross examined upon his/her evidence, and the Magistrates may also want to question the Defendant.
Our team of expert Solicitors undertake comprehensive preparation and obtain all relevant information relating to your personal and professional circumstances. Using our experience, we extract key information that you may have overlooked and present a persuasive, methodical legal argument before the Court in order to give you the best opportunity to avoid a disqualification.
Our objective is to persuade the Court that the consequences of a disqualification would cause Exceptional Hardship and it would not be proportionate to the offence. This is a conclusion that the Court is not inclined to reach without persuasion.
We routinely persuade the Court not to disqualify, if successful in such an arguement the court will endorse your licence with penalty points instead, which remain ‘live’ for the purposes of any future Court proceedings for a period of three years.
Having being successful in an Exceptional Hardship arguement, should you find yourself facing another disqualification within three years due to ‘totting up’ you will not be able to rely on the same set of facts presented to the court previously.
The offence is a summary only offence which can only be dealt with by the Magistrates Court. It is vital that you seek expert assistance prior to your Court hearing.
In addition to a disqualification, you can expect to receive either a fine, a community order or in cases where there is a high reading, a custodial sentence.
The mandatory, minimum period of disqualification is 12 months which would prevent you from driving any motor vehicle on any public road.
If you were arrested by the Police, they may have taken samples of breath, blood or urine. If a sample was requested, the Police are obliged to warn you about the consequences of failing to provide a sample.
We have successfully challenged the Prosecution on numerous occasions. There is a strong likelihood that if the Police have procedurally failed then you could secure an acquittal.
It is an offence to drive a vehicle on a public road whilst under the influence of controlled drugs. The legal limits are set out in the table below:
|Drug||Threshold limit in micrograms per litre of blood (µg/L)|
|lysergic acid diethylamide||1µg/L|
If the Police believe you are under the influence of controlled drugs you will be taken to the Police station to provide a blood or urine sample.
The offence is a summary only offence which will be dealt with in the Magistrates Court. The penalty if convicted for drug driving is a mandatory disqualification between 12-36 months, a community order or in the worst-case scenario a custodial sentence.
If you have had a previous relevant disqualification in the preceding 10 years, the disqualification which will be imposed will be for a minimum of three years.
We will be able to assist you in identifying any potential defence or procedural irregularities to secure an acquittal.