Road Traffic Law
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Road Traffic Law
I can provide you with practical and effective advice and representation when facing criminal prosecution or the loss of your licence due to alleged road traffic offences.
Where you have no option but to plead guilty or face disqualification, I can also assist with Special Reason and Exceptional Hardship submissions.
I have experience in dealing with all types of motoring offences that include:
Naming the Driver Offences
Have you received a Notice of Intended Prosecution / statutory request for driver details?
There is a legal requirement to identify, for the police, the name of the person driving the vehicle when it is alleged that a road traffic offence has been committed. When they do this the recipient has 28 days to respond.
The police only have to write to the vehicle’s registered keeper within 14 days of the offence, warning of prosecution. If you are the registered keeper then you must respond. If you were the driver, but someone else owns the car, then it may take some time before you get something through the post.
Also, you cannot hide behind the Human Rights Act. It is entirely your choice not to incriminate yourself, but that will not prevent the police from prosecuting you for failing to respond. So far, the domestic courts have held that your right not to incriminate yourself is outweighed by the rights of the wider public to be protected from speeding motorists. Therefore, it is currently not a defence to an offence of failing to name the driver, to say that you had a right not to respond. This point has now been taken to the European Court which has ruled that it is not an infringement of a person’s human rights.
That said, the police don’t always get it right and we have secured acquittals where errors have occurred. It is important to seek advice as soon as you receive a police request.
The penalty for failing to respond is a maximum fine of £1,000; six penalty points or a driving disqualification/
Speeding offences in the UK are captured by speed cameras, laser guns and unmarked police cars and a single conviction for a speeding offence can lose you your licence. On the face of it, the evidence against you may seem compelling and that the obvious choice is to plead guilty. That is not always right. In what might seem to be watertight cases, I have made successful challenges and seen clients acquitted of a speeding offence for a variety of reasons.
Speeding offences penalties are a maximum fine of £1,000 or £2,500 for an offence on the motorway as well as three-six penalty points or a driving disqualification.
A momentary lapse of concentration or an error of judgement can lead to a summons, a hefty fine, up to nine points on your licence or a disqualification for driving carelessly.
The prosecution must prove that the standard of driving falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver. The court will consider what would be expected of a careful and competent driver in a particular case, and will take into account circumstances that are shown to have been known by the driver, as well as the circumstances of which the driver could be expected to be aware. A person is to be regarded as driving without reasonable consideration for others only if those persons are inconvenienced by his driving.
It does not always follow that a driver who is involved in an accident will be prosecuted for careless driving. The police are able to offer a driver the opportunity to avoid a prosecution by successfully completing a ‘driver improvement course’ in certain circumstances and may decide not to take any action at all. It is equally true that a driver who is prosecuted, is not always guilty of a road traffic offence. A critical review of the background to the incident and available evidence in such cases is necessary.
Penalties for careless driving are an unlimited fine; three-nine penalty points or a driving disqualification.
Have you been charged with drink driving? Or a similar offence?
Drink driving offences (alcohol driving offences) and drug-related motoring offences are taken very seriously by the courts. In addition to a criminal record, a convicted motorist can expect a lengthy period off the road and there is a possibility that the motorist may be given a community penalty or even a custodial sentence. It is partly because of the serious nature of the penalties faced by motorists that the law imposes very detailed procedural requirements on the police and prosecuting authorities when bringing a prosecution. This can be a minefield for the unwary. It is important to obtain specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity.
Even though it may seem that once you have been stopped by a police officer and failed a roadside screening breath test, you are facing an open and shut case, there may be a number of possible defences available. Many defences are of a technical nature and will often require supporting expert evidence. However the fact remains that the prosecution must prove every element of the offence to the required, criminal standard before a court can convict.
There are two principal drink driving offences prosecuted by the police, namely driving with excess alcohol and being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. There is a significant difference in these two offences, in that following a conviction for an offence of driving whilst over the limit, a disqualification is mandatory, whereas the court has a discretion not to disqualify in the event of a conviction for being ‘drunk in charge of a motor vehicle’.
It is a separate offence where a person fails, without reasonable excuse, to provide a specimen of breath for analysis when required to do so by a police officer. Many such cases hinge on whether the motorist had a reasonable excuse for not providing a sample. It is often going to be important to adduce expert evidence on the point.
It will always be vitally important to consider all of the evidence in detail and to ascertain what, if any, offence has been committed.
The offence of driving with excess alcohol is punishable with up to six months in prison or an unlimited fine as well as disqualification from driving for a minimum period of 12 months (36 months where the second offence is committed within 10 years of the date of the first conviction).
If the charge is one of being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the limit, a prison sentence of up to three months is the maximum penalty. A driving disqualification or endorsement with 10 penalty points will also be ordered.
The offence of failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis is also punishable with an unlimited fine / 6 months custody and a driving disqualification. The Magistrates could disqualify for 17 months or more if they believe there has been a deliberate refusal to provide a specimen.
The imposition of a driving ban is extremely likely to have a significant adverse impact on both the family and working life of the motorist. It will therefore be imperative to try and reduce the length of any such ban. Even if a motorist is minded to plead guilty to an offence such as drink driving then it is still important to speak with specialist lawyers to advise on how best to present crucial mitigation and keep any ban to a minimum. Such mitigation may in the end be the difference between retaining a job and losing it.
One of the most serious driving offences is dangerous driving. To prove the offence the prosecution must show that the standard of your driving fell far below that which could be expected of a reasonably competent driver and that it would be obvious to the careful and competent driver that driving in such a way was dangerous. If they can do this then you can be convicted of dangerous driving.
I understand that motoring accidents can happen that are not necessarily your fault. If you have been accused of driving dangerously, it is in your best interests to attain expert legal advice at your earliest convenience. I am available to assist you through the entire legal process and represent you in court if necessary.
Dangerous driving and the law
According to Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act, it is a criminal offence for you to dangerously drive a mechanically propelled vehicle in a public place. The general test for this is to prove that the standard of driving has fallen far below the standard to be expected of a reasonably competent driver and that it would be obvious to the reasonably competent driver that it was dangerous. Although this may be related to your driving itself, it could also relate to the circumstances in which you drove such as the state of your vehicle whilst you are using it on the road e.g. driving having known the car had a serious defect like ineffective brakes.
The Courts have been given very wide scope to decide what constitutes as dangerous driving, but common examples include but are not limited to the following;
- Aggressive driving
- Driving while very tired or knowing of an illness
- Driving while knowing that the car has a serious defect
- Trying to drive while doing something else, using a phone, texting, or eating
- Undertaking and tailgating
Dangerous driving allegations can be heard in the Magistrates Court or in the Crown Court. Sometimes the Court will make the decision that the case has to go to the Crown Court. If it does not, you will have the chance to choose which court deals with your case. This is a very important decision and it is essential that you take early advice from me about which Court is most suitable to deal with your case.
The consequences of being found guilty of dangerous driving are very serious, including the prospect of a lengthy prison sentence, so it is vital to take early advice about your case from me. I will discuss the defences that are available to you including the use of defence experts to assist you.
It is vital to take the earliest possible advice about cases like this.
What sentence could you face?
If you have been found guilty of dangerous driving, your maximum sentence will depend on which court has heard your case. In either case, if you are convicted of dangerous driving you will be given an automatic driving ban of at least 12 months and you will have to re-take your test before you will be allowed to drive again.
In terms of the sentence you will receive, they can include the following:
Magistrates Court – If you are sentenced in the Magistrates Court, you could receive a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of £5,000.
Crown Court – The Crown Court has a wider sentencing power which means that they can impose a prison sentence of up to 2 years and a fine of £5,000.
How can I help you?
If you have been accused of driving dangerously, I am available to put forward your case in the best possible light and advise you throughout the entire process.
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“Shrewd and considered.”T. Bird
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