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.
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.