Tuesday, 26th September 2017

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Motoring Offences



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Accused of a Driving Offence?

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at Stevenson & Marshall

A conviction for a motoring offence can have a big impact on your life.  How would you cope if you lost your driving licence?  You need expert advice if you are accused of an offence, and you may need representation in court by a solicitor with skill and experience.  Our criminal defence team can assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Speeding, Careless and Dangerous Driving

What is careless driving? [+]

Careless driving means driving a vehicle without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users. Whether or not driving is careless will depend on the facts and circumstances of each case.

What are the penalties for careless driving? [+]

The court can endorse your driving licence with between 3 and 9 penalty points, together with a fine. The court also has discretion to disqualify from driving.

What is meant by 'dangerous driving'? [+]

The offence is driving a vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place. Danger under the legislation refers to the risk of injury or damage to property caused by the manner of driving. Potential injury includes that to the driver him or herself. Whether or not driving is dangerous will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case, Excessive speed can constitute dangerous driving depending on how much above the speed limit, and other factors such as the type of road, weather, time of day, etc.

What are the penalties for dangerous driving? [+]

The maximum prison sentence is two years’ imprisonment. Endorsement of driving licence and disqualification for a minimum period of 12 months are obligatory. You would also have to re-sit the driving test.

Do I have to say who was driving my car at the time of an offence? [+]

Yes, the keeper of a vehicle has a legal obligation to tell the police the name of the person who was driving the vehicle at the time of an alleged motoring offence, whether it was the keeper or someone else.

Drink Driving

What is the legal drink drive limit for alcohol? [+]

35micrograms of alcohol per 100mls of breath, or 80mg of alcohol per 100mls of blood or urine.

How does the breath test procedure work? [+]

If you are driving, attempting to drive, or in charge of a vehicle on a road or in a public place, and the police have reason to suspect that you have committed a traffic offence or have consumed alcohol, they can require you to take a road-side breathalyser test. If the test is positive, or if you refuse to take it, then you will be taken to the police station where a further breath test will be carried out. Two readings will be taken and if the lower reading is over the prescribed limit, you will be charged with an offence. If the lower reading is close to the limit, you will be offered the opportunity to give a blood or urine sample for further testing.

Can I refuse to give a breath test or sample of blood or urine? [+]

Generally, no. If you do, you would be charged with refusing to provide a breath test or sample which could lead to disqualification from driving. You do not have the right to choose to give blood or urine instead of breath, unless there are medical reasons for this.

How do the police test for drugs other than alcohol? [+]

The police rely on impairment tests such as asking the motorist to walk in a straight line. A police doctor will advise the police as to whether the motorist is under the influence of a drug. The provision of a blood or urine sample may then be required.

Can I be convicted of a drink driving offence even if I am not driving? [+]

Yes. You can be charged with attempting to drive or being drunk in charge of a vehicle even though you are not actually driving at the time.

Does a conviction for drink driving mean automatic disqualification? [+]

Yes, for a minimum period of 12 months, unless you can persuade the court there is a ‘special reason’ not to disqualify you. An example of a ‘special reason’ could be an extreme medical emergency. It is at the discretion of the court to decide if the circumstances in a particular case amount to a ‘special reason’. It is very difficult to convince a court that special reasons exist and such cases are quite rare.

Does the amount of alcohol consumed affect the length of any driving ban? [+]

The amount of alcohol consumed would, along with all other relevant factors, be taken into account in deciding the length of any ban.

Penalty points and disqualification

What are penalty points and how do they work? [+]

Certain motoring offences result in penalty points being placed on your driving licence. If you acquire 12 points or more within a three year period you will be disqualified from driving. This is known as “totting up”. The minimum period of disqualification is six months.

Is it any different for newly qualified drivers? [+]

Yes - anyone who acquires six or more penalty points within two years of passing their test will have their driving licence revoked by DVLA. This is different from a period of disqualification as you can re-apply for your provisional licence and proceed through the test procedure straight away. This is not an order made by the Court. It is a procedure followed by DVLA and the Court has no discretion.

Can the court decide not to disqualify me from driving even though I have 12 or more penalty points? [+]

Yes, if there are circumstances which mean that “exceptional hardship” would result from a disqualification. The Court has a discretion but it is strictly limited. Almost everyone who is disqualified will suffer some hardship, so the hardship must be “exceptional”. Exceptional hardship to the driver but also to other people affected by the disqualification is relevant. This might be the driver’s relatives or employees. Loss of employment may not always be enough.

What is important is that your case for exceptional hardship is properly presented to the court, and for this you need our expert advice.

Which offences usually mean disqualification is imposed? [+]

There are a range of offences leading automatically to disqualification. These include dangerous driving; causing death by dangerous driving; causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink or drugs; drink driving; failing to provide a breath test; racing on public roads.

Can I get my licence back before the end of a period of disqualification? [+]

Yes. It is possible to apply to the court after two years of disqualification to get your licence back earlier. You would need to get legal advice about this.

How do I apply to get my licence back after a disqualification? [+]

You must not drive until you have applied to DVLA and received your licence from them. For more information see www.dvla.gov.uk.

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