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Motoring Offences Frequently Asked Questions

 

Which areas of the country do you cover?

We cover the whole of England and Wales and our prices are fixed fees regardless of whereabouts in the country your case is heard.

 

Where are your offices?

Our head office is in Nottinghamshire and we also have offices available for appointments in Birmingham, Cardiff, London and Liverpool.

 

Do I need to come and see you to have you act on my behalf?

While you are very welcome to come to one of our offices to meet with us, most of our clients don’t do this.  We aim to work with clients to offer the most convenient way of preparing cases, and for most clients this is via telephone and/or email rather than face-to-face consultations.

 

Who prepares my case? 

All cases are overseen by Steve Williams, principal of the firm.  Preparation work is handled by a designated case handler, although all of the team will be familiar with your case and able to help you.

 

Our case handlers are paralegals who are amongst the most experienced and well-trained within the field of motoring law in the country.  Regular in-house and external training events ensure their continual learning and development.

 

Who attends Court on my behalf? 

We work with approved barristers’ Chambers around the country who we have strong affiliations with.  These barristers are hand-picked by us because of their advocacy skills and experience, and we provide ongoing support and training to these barristers to enable them to continuously offer the highest levels of advocacy and client care.

 

Will I know in advance what your fees are?

We always work on a fixed fee basis.  We do this as we believe it is the fairest way to charge clients.

When we discuss your case with you, we will confirm a fixed fee and you will then be able to decide whether to instruct us.  At no point will you receive an unexpected bill from us.

 

Can I pay by instalments?

Yes, as long as the total amount payable is received by your final hearing date.

 

To begin work on your case, we ask that a 15% deposit is paid, and the remainder can be paid via instalments each week or month until your final hearing date.

 

If my case is discontinued or I am found not guilty, will your fees be refunded to me?

Yes, if your case is discontinued or you are found not guilty, the Court will allow your reasonable costs to be refunded to you.  This process was recently changed and the hourly rate of costs to be refunded was ‘capped’ for cases beginning after 1 October 2012.

As a firm offering ‘exceptional competence, skill and expertise’, our clients continue to receive very high proportions of their costs refunded to them.

We handle this process for our clients.  It is a long process that takes several months.  We keep clients fully updated during this process.

 

Do your fees include Court costs?

Court costs are entirely separate to our costs and will be payable if you are found guilty of an offence.

The financial penalties imposed by the Court will consist of Court costs of around a week’s take-home pay, a fine and a victim surcharge.  These can be paid in instalments to the Court.

I think I’ve been flashed by a speed camera.  How long do the police have to contact me?

If you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you should receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution within 14 days.  If you are not the registered keeper, the Notice will go to the registered keeper.

 

I have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution.  What should I do?

You should complete and return the Notice of Intended Prosecution and return it as soon as possible.  To fail to do this is a separate offence.  You are not admitting guilt by completing this form, and whether you were the driver or not, you must complete and return the form.

 

I’ve received a Notice of Intended Prosecution but I don’t know if I was the driver at the time.  What should I do?

You should complete the Notice and confirm the details of all of the possible drivers.  You will be expected to make enquiries to try and ascertain whether you were the driver.

 

I am tempted to take speeding points for someone else or have someone else take speeding points for me.  Should I do this? 

No.  If you do this, you will be charged with perverting the course of justice if discovered and will receive a prison sentence.

 

How long will it be before I receive a summons?

The police have six months to request that a summons be issued.  You do not have to have received the summons within six months, as many people believe.

 

I was only a couple of miles over the limit.  I thought there was an allowance before they were allowed to prosecute?

You can be prosecuted for any speed over the limit, no matter how close to the limit you were driving.  If you were very close to the limit, it may be worth questioning whether the speed camera is reliable.

 

I was speeding in a genuine emergency, can this be a defence?

In this situation, you should argue Special Reasons.  This means that you are technically guilty of the offence but should not be punished.

 

The road I was travelling on didn’t have correct signage.  Can this be a defence?

Yes.

I have been charged with drink driving.  What will happen to me?

If you plead guilty, the Court will have to disqualify you from driving for a period of at least 12 months.  Our penalty calculator can provide you with an idea of how long the disqualification will be for.

 

Is there any way of avoiding a disqualification?

Yes.

If you are found not guilty, you will not be punished.

Also, if you successfully argue Special Reasons, while technically guilty, you will not be disqualified.

 

What are the Special Reasons for drink driving?

There are three Special Reasons that apply to drink driving.

These are:

  • Spiked drinks
  • Emergency
  • Short distance driven

If any of these scenarios apply to your case, you should contact us urgently to discuss whether you can avoid a disqualification.

 

Will the Court take my previous drink driving conviction into account?

Only if it occurred within the last 10 years.  If it did, it naturally affects the minimum disqualification period that the Court can impose.  Use our penalty calculator to see what disqualification period is likely.

 

Could I be sent to prison for drink driving?

Yes, depending on your reading, drink driving can be an imprisonable offence.

 

Are there any grounds to plead not guilty to drink driving?

Yes, there are many defences, and we are specialist drink driving solicitors so we excel at finding and winning these cases.  A free telephone consultation with us will help to discover any potential defences within your case.

I don’t think my driving was careless.  Should I plead guilty?

Careless driving is a difficult charge as there is no set list of things that amount to careless driving.  Basically put, if your driving falls below the level of a competent and careful driver, you could be guilty of careless driving.

In order to advise any clients fully about careless driving, we request that the papers are sent to us so that we can give full advice about whether a guilty plea is appropriate.

 

What are the penalties for careless driving?

Careless driving carries between 3-9 points or a disqualification.

The actual penalty imposed by the Court will depend on a number of factors and unlike speeding or drink driving, it is difficult to say what penalty the Court will impose without seeing the witness statements against you.

We work with you to put your story to the Court in the best possible light and ensure the magistrates are aware of the positive factors in your favour.

 

I haven’t been charged yet but the police want me to speak to them.  Should I speak to them?

You should always make sure that you are represented by a solicitor in the police station.  We can arrange this free of charge for you and it is important that you contact us as soon as possible to discuss this.

What is the difference between dangerous driving and careless driving?

Essentially, it is how bad the driving was.

 

The definition of careless driving is that the driving fell below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.  Dangerous driving is where the driving falls far below what would have been expected of a competent and careful driver.

 

In practice, this is often difficult to distinguish and will come down to a matter of opinion.

 

If you have been charged with dangerous driving and you accept that your driving fell below the standard of a careful and competent driver, we may be able to negotiate with the prosecution service to accept a guilty plea to careless driving instead of dangerous driving.

 

What is the difference in penalties between careless driving and dangerous driving?

Careless driving carries between 3-9 points and a potential disqualification.  It is also dealt with by way of a fine.

 

Dangerous driving is much more serious and carries an obligatory disqualification of at least 12 months.  You must take an extended re-test and it can be dealt with by way of imprisonment.  In the more serious cases, the matter will be sent to the Crown Court to be dealt with.

Does the Court have to disqualify me if I get to 12 points? 

Yes, the Court has to disqualify you for 6 months unless you can show that you or others would suffer Exceptional Hardship.

 

What is Exceptional Hardship?

Exceptional Hardship cannot relate to the offence, so it cannot be something that would make the offence less serious.  For example, the fact that you were only slightly over the speed limit would not class as mitigating circumstances to allow you to avoid a disqualification under the totting up provisions.

 

The hardship must be exceptional and whilst losing your job can cause hardship, the Court has to be satisfied that this would amount to Exceptional Hardship.

 

If I am disqualified under the totting up provisions, are the points on my licence removed?

Yes, if you are disqualified for any period of time under the totting up provisions, then the points on your licence are removed.  This can be of particular benefit if you are disqualified for a shorter time so, for example, if the Court found Exceptional Hardship and disqualified you for a shorter period of time, say 14 days, the points on your licence would be removed.

 

I have used this reason before to keep my licence after getting to 12 points.  Can I use it again?

No, you cannot use the same reason within 3 years.  However, it may be that there are different reasons.  You can still present an Exceptional Hardship application.

 

So, for example, if previously you had kept your licence because it meant you would lose your job if now a member of your family would suffer hardship because they rely on you for driving say, for example, if a relative is elderly or disabled, then this can be a sufficient reason and you can still argue Exceptional Hardship.

 

When do the points run from?

The points run from the date of offence to the date of offence.

 

For example, if you had 9 points on your licence as at the 7/12/10, that is to say the first offence was 7/12/10 then if you commit any motoring offence up until 7/12/13 regardless of when the matter comes to Court you will fall foul of the totting up provisions.

 

For example, if you were stopped for speeding on 15/11/13 but you didn’t receive a summons until some time in February 2014, although the points on your licence would now be over three years old, because they were on your licence within 3 years of the offence, you would still fall to be disqualified.

 

What evidence would I need to present to the Court?

This depends on the basis of your application.

 

If you are saying that you would lose your job then the Court would normally expect to see some evidence from your employer.  We can, however, present a case without that and we would work with you to build your case for Exceptional Hardship.

 

What is the procedure for Exceptional Hardship applications?

You will have to make the application on Oath; that is to say that you will have to give evidence and swear under Oath and you would then be cross-examined by the Court and the prosecution.

 

We would go through the matter with you in detail.  We cover everything to make sure that there are no questions left for the prosecution or the Court to ask you.

 

Should I have a solicitor?

If your licence is important to you and you are arguing Exceptional Hardship, it is vital that you have a solicitor to represent you.

 

These applications are not easy and the Court and the prosecution try to show that you would not in fact suffer Exceptional Hardship.

 

We prepare the case fully with you to ensure your best chances of success.

 

What are my chances of success if I instruct you?

We assess each case and advise you whether you have a good chance.

 

We have only ever lost 1 case where we advised a client they had a strong argument, and at the time of writing that matter is currently being appealed.

 

We are very confident that if we advise you that you will keep your licence, we will succeed on your behalf.

What penalties does this carry?

The Court will very often impose a prison sentence for driving whilst disqualified, particularly if it is the second offence.  They will also order either 6 points or an additional disqualification for a period of between 3-18 months.

 

What penalties does this carry?

This offence carries between 6-8 penalty points.  This can be particularly harsh if you are a new driver as it means that your licence will be revoked.

 

Are there any defences for driving without insurance?

If you were driving a vehicle owned by your employer during the course of your employment then that is a defence.

 

Also, on occasions, the police charge you with driving without insurance because they say that the insurance certificate is void when in actual fact it is not void but merely voidable which is a legal distinction but means effectively you can defend the matter and show that you were in fact insured.

 

I genuinely believed that I was insured but the insurance company cancelled it without me knowing.  Should I plead not guilty?

This is not a defence but you may be able to argue that there are Special Reasons not to have points endorsed on your licence, namely that you were misled.

 

It is important to distinguish between being misled and being mistaken.  So, for example, if a member of the family arranged insurance for you and told you that you were insured, you can argue Special Reasons to avoid any points being put on your licence.  Equally, if your insurance company cancelled the insurance without you knowing and continued to take the direct debits out of your account, you can argue that you were misled.

 

If, however, the policy was cancelled and no direct debits were taken, the Court will say that you should have been aware that the insurance had been cancelled and this would then not class as Special Reasons.

I have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution but I don’t know who was driving.  What should I do?

This depends whether you are the registered keeper or whether you have been nominated by the registered keeper.  If you are the registered keeper, you have to tell the police who was driving unless you have good reason for not being able to.

 

The Courts can be very strict on this so it is important that you do everything you can to tell the police who was driving.  If you fail to do so, you will face a charge of Failing to Disclose Driver’s Details, which carries 6 points, often considerably more than the speeding would have done.

 

If you are not the registered keeper and have been nominated by the registered keeper so, for example, if it was a company car and the lease company have told the police that you were driving then your duty is to provide such information as is within your power.  It is not sufficient to simply write back and say you don’t know who was driving, you would have to tell the police who might have been driving, so list the potential drivers and tell the police everything that you possibly can to help them find out who was driving.

I have been charged with failing to notify driver’s details.  What are the penalties? 

This offence carries 6 penalty points.  Sometimes, you will have been charged with speeding as well and if you accept that you were speeding, we will be able to negotiate with the prosecution service to drop the more serious offence of failing to notify driver’s details and accept a guilty plea to the speeding, which may well carry fewer penalty points.

 

Can I plead not guilty to this?

Yes, you will have to show the Court that you are unable to provide the driver’s details and that you took reasonable steps to try and find who the driver was.

What are the penalties for this?

This is dealt with similarly to drink driving in that if you fail to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine, then the Court have to disqualify you.  They have no alternative but to disqualify you for a minimum of 12 months.

 

Can I plead not guilty to this?

Yes, if you can show the Court that you had reasonable grounds for not providing the specimen then this is a valid defence.  Reasonable grounds will normally be medical so, for example, if you have a medical reason for not being able to provide a breath specimen or if you have a phobia of needles and refused to provide a blood test then these can be valid defences.

I want to plead not guilty to failure to provide a specimen and I believe I have medical grounds, however I did not tell the police at the time.  Does this mean I will have to plead guilty?

No, it makes the case more difficult but you can still plead not guilty and you will have to explain why you did not tell the police at the time.

What are the penalties for this?

These offences are often charged together and can be treated very seriously.  They carry between 5-10 penalty points and can also lead to disqualification for 6-12 months and indeed, in the more serious cases, can mean imprisonment.

 

Can I plead not guilty to this?

Yes.  If you can show that you were not aware that there had been an injury or damage then this is a valid defence.

I have been charged with using a mobile phone but I was just looking at my phone, I wasn’t talking on it.  Is this a defence?

Yes, it can be.  The prosecution has to show that you were using the phone for communication purposes.  This would include, for example, talking on the phone, texting, emailing or checking Facebook.  It probably would not include using the phone as a sat nav; however, the police could charge you with either careless driving or failing to have proper control of a vehicle.

 

If you are charged with using a mobile phone and you were not using it for these purposes, you should speak to us to see whether you should plead not guilty.

 

What penalties does it carry?

It carries 3 points.

What penalties does this carry?

It depends which offence you have been charged with as there are two driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence charges.  The first is where there has never been a licence, for example, if you are a learner driver and you were driving without L plates or a supervisor and this carries between 3-6 points.

 

If, however, you have been charged with driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence because your license has been revoked by the DVLA because you have not sent it back to have points put on, then you would be entitled to a license and this is a separate offence which is dealt with differently.  It does not carry any penalty points.

What are the penalties for this?

This is similar to drink driving but not as serious.  This is where you were not driving but were in charge of a car whilst over the limit.  It carries 10 points or a disqualification.  Very often the Courts do disqualify but this will depend on a number of factors, in particular how high your breath or blood reading was.  We can present your case in the best possible way to ensure that you do not get disqualified.

 

Can I plead not guilty to this?

Yes.  If you can establish that you would not have driven until such time as you were under the limit, this is a valid defence.  You will need a report from one of our associate intoxicologist experts to show at what time you would have been under the limit and then you will need to persuade the Court that you would not have driven until after that time.

I have been convicted at Court and I want to Appeal it.  Can you help me?

Yes.  This is certainly something that we can help you with and we would draft a Notice of Appeal and lodge that with the Court.

 

I was disqualified by the Court and want to Appeal it.  Does my disqualification still run whilst I am appealing it?

Not necessarily.  We can apply to the Court to ask them to lift the disqualification pending the Appeal and that means that you can carry on driving until your Appeal is finished.

 

If I lose the Appeal, will my penalty be increased?

Yes, it can be.  It does not necessarily have to be but the Court can certainly increase the penalty if they choose to.  You will also face additional Court costs.

 

Before taking on any Appeal, we would review the case and advise you of the prospects of success and would certainly not advise you to Appeal a matter that you were not likely to win.

Local Legal Aid lawyers aren’t specialists in this field. Legal Aid is being cut and Legal Aid lawyers are trying to find new ways to get money in. People are offering courses trying to teach Legal Aid Lawyers to become motoring lawyers in 6 hours.

 

Course providers are  saying things like “In these difficult days of cuts to Legal Aid more and more solicitors are looking to other ways in which to generate income and advising people private paying clients in relation to Road Traffic offences is an attractive one.”

 

Legal Aid firms are used to providing a Legal Aid level of service, you may be one of many clients they have that day, Your solicitor may have been dealing with a drug addict shoplifter in the morning and then you in the afternoon. You can be sure of a quality service from us. We do not do Legal Aid at all.

 

We aren’t part of a big firm looking for ways to make more money. We only do motoring law. We didn’t learn it in an afternoon on a course. You will not be just another client on the day. All of our advocates only deal with one case a day. You will get our undivided attention