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Archive for September, 2016

A Six Month Driving Ban… Because I Didn’t Receive A Letter?!

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

 

A Six Month Driving Ban… Because I Didn’t Receive A Letter?!

 

What happens when you don’t receive your mail? What happens when you don’t receive an important letter from the police and because of that you cannot reply to it?

 

That’s exactly what happened to a client I had in Feltham Magistrates Court last week. He is a respected businessman, owning and managing a small business. Familiar with completing paperwork and complying with timescales; the paperwork, the formalities of a court summons didn’t phase him, even the prospect of attending court wasn’t an issue to him. What bothered him was that this was a minor speeding offence, 35/30, 3 points, £100 fine or even a Speed Awareness Course had the police offered him it – but because he did not receive the forms to be able to return them he was now facing something much more serious – a charge of Failing to Disclose Drivers Details, the penalties for which are 6 points, a fine of up to £1000 plus court costs.

 

And, even though his licence was now clean, because at the time of the speeding offence he already had points on his licence, he was also facing a six month driving ban!

 

Yes, a six month driving ban.  Because he didn’t receive his post.

 

Seems unfair doesn’t it?

 

We talked with our client, and he clearly didn’t want to fight the speeding offence. He accepted it was him driving. Because of his work he was able to identify the journey and could confidently say it was him. He just wanted the opportunity to accept what he would have done had the Notice of Intended Prosecution reached him.

 

Not receiving the form is a valid defence to the charge of Failure to Disclose Drivers Details. From speaking with our client we knew this was not a one time issue.  With five houses with very similar names in the area, misdirected post was a common occurrence – his neighbours were even willing to provide evidence to the court of this. But our client didn’t really want to go through the traumatic experience of a trial.  So, instead, we liaised with the prosecution to persuade them to alter the charge laid against our client, to reinstate the original speeding offence and drop the Failure to Disclose offence.

 

The issue we faced is that due to the time elapsed since the date of offence the prosecution were outside the six month timescale normally associated with a speeding matter so needed to show that there were grounds for our client’s case to be considered as exceptional to that rule. The Prosecution are very busy, and tend to deal with cases in date order, so it is not unusual for us to have to chase for a response numerous times.  To ensure our client’s position was protected we fully prepared his case for trial and also prepared an Exceptional Hardship application as a further back up to help our client avoid a six month driving ban.

 

Just days before the trial the prosecution agreed to drop the Failure to Disclose charge. Our client attended court and was supported by one of our expert Barristers who put his case to the court. He was ordered to pay £100 in total costs and 3 penalty points were applied to his licence, allowing him to receive the penalty he would have had he received the Notice of Intended Prosecution in the first place.

 

At Forrest Williams we know that there is not a ‘right’ result for everybody. We will listen and we will structure a case plan that will work for your needs.  If you are due in court for any reason then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645 and we will be happy to help.

 

Can A Disqualified Driver Avoid Prison?

disqualified driver avoid prison

 

Can A Disqualified Driver Avoid Prison?

 

In Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Patrick Stevens was ecstatic when he heard the words ‘suspended sentence’ – it was at this point that he knew he would not be going immediately to prison for his driving offences.

 

Patrick had, however, endured an agonising few weeks between his police station interview (during which he was charged) and the court hearing date.

 

Just recalling the date in question was very uncomfortable for him, Patrick told his counsel – Steve Williams, Senior Solicitor of Forrest Williams.

 

Having been disqualified in August of this year for a drink driving offence, Patrick admitted he had decided to drive his vehicle, but could not fully explain why. He admitted he had been very upset about his inability to drive for work, and also that some alcohol had been consumed.

 

Whatever his thought process at the time, the facts of the case could not be disputed. Patrick had been driving his van towards traffic lights when he had collided with the back of the vehicle in front, which had subsequently bumped into the next vehicle ahead in the queue of traffic.

 

Instead of stopping at the scene, or finding a safe place to pull over and exchange details, Patrick was ashamed to admit that he had panicked and driven away. The drivers of the two vehicles involved in the collision had followed Patrick and pulled over when he did. They asked him for his identify but he again panicked and refused to give his name. One of the other drivers took photographs of Patrick, grabbed the keys from his ignition and took one of Patrick’s business cards from his works van.

 

Patrick ran away from the scene but, full of remorse the following day, he called the police and admitted what he had done. The police linked his call with reports made by the two other drivers and he was questioned and subsequently charged with three offences: driving whilst disqualified, failing to stop at the scene of an accident and failing to give his details.

 

Steve Williams mitigated on Patrick’s behalf, making the court aware that the previous disqualification had hit Patrick very hard as it had placed his new sole trader business in jeopardy.

 

However, Patrick had been made aware from the point of instructing us to act for him that there was a very real risk an immediate custodial sentence would be imposed.  The courts are reluctant to help a disqualified driver avoid prison.  He knew that the court could not treat lightly the fact that he had driven whilst disqualified, and so soon after his disqualification had been imposed.

 

Patrick was therefore incredibly relieved to hear the District Judge pronounce sentence. A 12 week sentence was imposed, suspended for 12 months. In addition, a community order was made for 150 hours of unpaid work. Lastly, Patrick was disqualified for 9 months for driving whilst disqualified and 9 months for failing to stop – but both of these to run concurrently, so one further 9 month disqualification on top of his original disqualification.

 

Patrick thanked Steve Williams and said he would, in future, take very seriously the rulings of the court. He had, he said, learned his lesson the hard way. 

 

Are you a disqualified driver needing to avoid a prison sentence?  Get the experts on your side now by calling us on 0800 1933 999.

 

Exceptional Hardship Successful for Lighting Engineer

Exceptional Hardship Successful

 

Exceptional Hardship Successful for Lighting Engineer

 

Jaden Miller attended Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week with Steve Williams, Senior Solicitor of law firm Forrest Williams, to answer his speeding charge.

 

Unfortunately, Jaden’s speeding charge – 49mph in a 40mph limit – was made much more serious by the fact that, at the time of the offence, he had 9 points on his driving licence.

 

Although 49mph in a 40mph would ordinarily be treated as a fixed penalty (i.e. 3 points and a £100 fine), when a person ‘tots up’ to 12 (or more) penalty points, they automatically fall to be disqualified from driving for a period of 6 months unless they can conduct a successful Exceptional Hardship application.

 

For Jaden, preparation of his case for court had centred on the fact that he works as a Lighting Engineer and has to travel across the whole of the UK, Ireland and France for business.

 

In addition, he is a married man with 2 children and is the breadwinner for his family. His wife, although working, has part time hours so could not meet the family’s total financial commitments on her wage alone.

 

Jaden also acts as the driver for his disabled mother, taking her shopping and to hospital appointments, etc.

 

Jaden worked closely with his case worker as they constructed the strongest possible application prior to the hearing.

 

Then, on the day of the hearing, Steve Williams advanced mitigation and conducted the Exceptional Hardship application with confidence, as is always the case given his 25+ years of experience within the legal sector.

 

Within moments, the decision was made: Exceptional Hardship successful!

 

Jaden thanked everyone involved in the preparation of his case and Steve particularly for his compelling advocacy within the court room. 

 

If you need to avoid a totting up ban, call our expert team now on 01623 600645.

 

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