Covid19 has had an effect on Courts and how they process motoring cases. There was a backlog, and motoring cases were very much at the back of the queue.
Now cases are progressing through Court, and so if you were expecting a Court date, it is likely to be in the next few weeks.
We have seen a rise in queries about driving issues. This article aims to assist you. Whilst many will criticise us for helping our clients with motoring offences the simple fact is that many many people will find themselves facing motoring charges which, if not dealt with properly can mean the loss of a driving licence. This can have a major effect upon you; you may lose your job, your income and your home.
Let’s consider “Archie”. He is an ambulance driver, and he must have his licence to carry out his work. He lives in the countryside, and there isn’t much work available close to his home. There is no bus service. Now imagine that two years ago he was lost and entered a new road. Coming from a side street onto what he thought was a 60mph road he was driving along at 55mph. Unfortunately, the road he had entered was actually a 40. If he lived in the area, he might well have known this. But he was lost and in a bit of a panic. He ended up with points on his licence.
Six months ago coming home from work truly exhausted, he had dealt with a number of deaths that day, he failed to notice the new speed signs on a couple of roads he drove along every day. Two roads, two speeding offences on the same day. More points on his licence.
Last week he was driving along a road where the speed limit jumped from 40mph to 30mph and back again in a short space of time. He wasn’t expecting that, and so missed the 30 sign. More points. Facing 12 points and disqualification the situation is now looking rather dire for Archie. But with the right representation, his licence could be saved under Exceptional Hardship. This is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity, like a get out of jail free card.
You might have very little sympathy for Archie, but put this into context. Over a period of two years, he has probably made about 1,000 journeys, and on four of those occasions, he has fallen foul of the law. That could happen to anyone of us. The amount of road signage, road markings, general street furniture etc. is unbelievable compared to just 20 years ago. The constant changes to road layouts are never-ending. 2.7 million people in the UK have three or more points on their licences!
If you have travelled at a speed greater than the maximum for the road you are on, then the starting point is the Magistrates’ Courts Sentencing Guidelines which are used to assess your punishment. The only viable defence is “emergency” although if the circumstances do not quite amount to an emergency, then you can argue that the circumstances provide a Special Reason why points should not be endorsed upon your licence or why you should not be disqualified. Being in a hurry isn’t really a good excuse.
If you have accumulated a number of points and the most recent event is likely to take you to 12 or more, then you face disqualification for 6 months. This can be avoided or reduced if you are able to show that you or someone else will suffer EXCEPTIONAL Hardship. The Hardship cannot be run of the mill. It cannot be what everyone else would suffer. It has to be EXCEPTIONAL.
In the right circumstances, an emergency can be a defence or indeed perhaps operate as Special Reasons not to disqualify. However, for most people, this will mean a minimum 12-month disqualification. We see a lot of clients who were parked, went to have a drink then realised that they needed to move their car. They might have travelled only 50 yards. Or a client who, realising that he had had too much to drink decided to sleep in his car rather than drive.
The Court process for speeding and other road traffic offences requires the Police to send an s172 /NIP to the registered owner within 14 days of the event. If you are the Registered Keeper, you will receive a letter asking you to identify the driver. If that is you, then you fill in your details and send them back. You will then receive another letter to confirm you were the driver with a Conditional Offer.
If you are close to totting (12 penalty points or more), you will then be told that the Conditional Offer is withdrawn and you will go through the Single Justice Procedure. This procedure is designed for simple cases where a guilty plea is expected, and you are given a chance to make written representations as to your mitigation. The case concludes in your absence, and you then are notified of the result.
If you dispute the case, you will be given a Requisition to attend Court. You can then explain your position, and if necessary, a trial date will be set.
If you reach this stage, you can contact me for advice and guidance firstname.lastname@example.org
Clearly, for many, losing a licence will have dire consequences.
If you need legal advice to see what your options are, we can offer a Zoom conference to talk about your case or circumstances. All you have to do is to get in touch email@example.com.
Motoring Solicitors Newcastle: 0191 284 6989
Motoring Solicitors Sunderland: 0191 567 6667
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
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You can also park opposite our Sunderland Office on John Street.