Road Traffic Offences

Road Traffic Offences Driving is an essential part of daily life for many of us, needed for everything from commuting and doing our jobs, to looking after our families. Your driving licence is more than just a luxury, it’s vital to how you function in your daily life. Commuting to work, school run, shopping or perhaps your job requires you to have a licence. A driving offence, therefore, can have a very negative effect on your whole life. It is not just cases of drink driving where a driving ban can be imposed. There are numerous other occasions such as accruing 12 or more penalty points, careless or dangerous driving or even a serious speeding offence. Road Traffic Law is a very complicated area of law and having the right support and representation at the earliest opportunity from our firm can help make sure all relevant details and circumstances are taken into account. This can significantly improve your chances of being found not guilty if the charge is unfounded, or otherwise help to mitigate the penalties, which may include keeping your very precious asset of a driving licence. Lawise solicitors can advise on a wide range of offences / hearings under the heading of Road Traffic which include but is not limited to the following: -  Drink / Drug driving and driving whilst unfitü  Failing to provide a specimenü  Causing death by careless or dangerous drivingü  Careless / Dangerous drivingü  Mobile phone offencesü  Driving without insurance / licence / MOTü  Failing to provide information as to who was the driverü  Speedingü  Drive whilst disqualifiedü  Road rage incidentsü  Failing to notify DVLAü  Appeal driving convictionü  Early return of driving licenceü  Totting up disqualificationü  Special reasonsü  Exceptional hardshipü We provide exceptional client care and quality legal guidance to all clients with lawyers who specialise in Road Traffic Law. We are based in Hounslow but can advise and represent clients from all over the UK. Our solicitors have many years’ experience and an impressive history of getting excellent results for our clients. That experience and expertise means that we explore and employ the best arguments and advance them on your behalf. Speeding Offences The first indication that you have been recorded speeding may be a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) in the post. This does not necessarily mean, however, that you will be prosecuted. You may qualify for a speed awareness course or a fixed penalty as an alternative to prosecution. The police must comply with strict time limits in relation to the issue of a NIP, otherwise, it will not be considered valid. Your response to a NIP requires a choice by you. We can give you clear advice on the best path to take. Whether your case is at this early stage, or you have already received a summons for speeding, we can assist. We will check the evidence that the prosecution has against you and identify any defence that you could advance. Totting up offences If you are found guilty of a driving offence, a court can ‘endorse’ your licence with penalty points. If you accumulate 12 points on your licence within a 3-year period, you will face disqualification for at least 6 months. For those who passed their driving test within the last 2 years, the threshold is only 6 points, and the driving test will need to be re-taken. Lawise can help you avoid disqualification via ‘totting up’ if the background facts to the case mean that what in law is called ‘exceptional hardship’ can be successfully advanced on your behalf. What counts as ‘exceptional hardship’ can be hard to judge, but in general the principle is that it should cause more than ordinary difficulties for people around you, such as your family, employees or people who rely on you for your job. The potential for this argument to succeed is entirely dependent on the circumstances, so is something you would need to discuss in more depth with your lawyer when considering whether it may apply to your situation. Disqualification Driving with excess alcohol and dangerous driving carry an obligatory disqualification for a minimum of 12 months and in the case of dangerous driving an extended retest must be passed at the end of that period. For any offence that carries points the court have a discretionary power to disqualify. In speeding cases the courts will consider a disqualification when the speed alleged is 30mph above the speed limit. With these sorts of offences each case will be judged on its individual merit but generally the court will consider the seriousness of the offence (e.g., how fast, other "aggravating features"), mitigating factors relating the offence or the defendant, previous convictions, and a defendant's means. Drink Driving Being found guilty of drink driving will mean a minimum 12-month ban for driving combined with other penalties. If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, Lawise will examine the procedure used by the police. The procedural requirements that the police must follow is complicated and technical. In those circumstances it is important to have specialist advice to identify cases where the police have made a mistake. If the error is significant, this could lead to the case being dropped before trial or you being found not guilty at trial. If there is no defence available to you, Lawise can discuss the full background circumstances with you. This means that at court, we can seek to argue for the minimum possible penalty, considering the appropriate sentencing guidelines. We will also discuss reducing the length of any ban with you via the drink-drive rehabilitation scheme (DDRS) course. Failing to provide a specimen If a police officer has reasonable grounds to suspect a person has been drink driving or in charge of a vehicle whilst over the drink drive limit, that person may be asked to provide a specimen of breath, blood, or urine for analysis. Failure to provide this at either the roadside or the police station may lead to being charged with that offence. There may be occasions where breath can’t be obtained, for example if there are medical reasons preventing it from being given. In those circumstances, the officer may ask for a blood or urine sample to be provided instead. Failure to provide either of these may equally result in charges. The choice as to what replacement sample is taken is one that the officer will make. Any sample of blood would be taken by a doctor. Failing to provide a specimen is treated as seriously as drink driving and attracts all the driving penalties that go with it. The Courts often view it as more serious as it may conclude that the failure was deliberate and an attempt to avoid giving what may have been a very high reading. In coming to this decision, the Court can assess the standard of driving or level of impairment. Careless and dangerous driving offences The difference between careless driving and dangerous driving is not always immediately apparent and understood. With the sentences being much harsher for dangerous driving, making sure your offence is classified correctly is essential. Lawise solicitors are highly experienced in establishing the differences between the two types of offences. We have a strong track record of achieving the best possible outcome in even the most serious cases, such as those involving death by dangerous driving. Driving whilst disqualified This is an absolute offence which means there is no defence other than if you could prove you were in fact not subject to a disqualification. Issues often arise when people are disqualified in their absence and are unaware of it. Whilst this is not a defence to the charge, it can amount to special reasons, which if argued successfully can result in no penalty for the offence and more importantly no penalty points being added to the driving record. If you are convicted of driving whilst disqualified it is likely the Court will seek Pre-Sentence Reports to assist them in deciding the appropriate sentence to impose. The Magistrates Association Sentencing Guidelines state that where a Court is sentencing a disqualified driver, it should consider sentences from a fine at the lowest end, to 26 weeks custody at the highest end of the spectrum. This will depend on plea, any previous convictions, and personal circumstances in each case. In addition, whilst it is possible to receive 6 penalty points for this offence, it is more likely for the Courts to sentence disqualified drivers to an extended period of disqualification unless there is a very good reason not to. Driving without insurance Driving without insurance is an offence where the burden is on the driver. The driver needs to show that he or she did have a policy of insurance that would have covered him or her to drive that motor vehicle at that time. The owner of a vehicle can be required to provide insurance even if they were not the driver at the material time, and there are separate offences in relation to allowing a vehicle to be used without a valid policy of insurance. The penalty for driving without insurance is ordinarily 6-8 points on a driving licence (unless special reasons exist), with a fine calculated on the driver’s disposable income. Again the imposition of a discretionary disqualification rather than points is also an option. Using a mobile phone whilst driving It is against the law to use a hand-held phone or similar electronic device whilst driving a motor vehicle. It makes no difference whether you are stationary at traffic lights or queuing in traffic. You do not need to be making a call or texting whilst driving. The legislation states that merely interacting with an electronic device whilst driving is an offence. Most mobile phone offences are dealt with by the imposition of six penalty points on your licence and a Fixed Penalty Notice. Some cases proceed to court. If you have a Fixed Penalty Notice or Court summons for using a mobile phone while driving, please contact Lawise to see how we can help you. Lawise will not automatically accept the prosecution’s allegation that you were using a mobile while driving without an in-depth view of their evidence. There are certain circumstances in which are you able to use your phone and you may have a defence. It is also up to the police to prove the case against you, and you are entitled to have your side heard at Court. Failing to provide information as to who was driving S172 of the Road Traffic Act is the legal requirement of a registered vehicle keeper to provide details to the police regarding an alleged traffic offence. The notice requires the vehicle keeper to provide the police with the details of the driver during the incident and failing to provide this will make the keeper liable for a failure to provide charge. When the police witness a driving offence, usually via automatic camera that records the incident such as driving through a red traffic light, the police will send a S172 notice to the address of the registered vehicle keeper. This notice should arrive within 14 days and comes alongside a NIP – or Notice of Intended Prosecution. The requirement is then for the registered vehicle keeper to fill out the details of the person driving the car at the time of the offence and failure to do so is an offence. This form must be returned within 28 days, or you risk being charged for failure to provide driver details. If you cannot reasonably ascertain who was driving the vehicle at the time of the offence, you must declare that when completing the form. You must claim with ‘reasonable diligence’ that you cannot verify who the driver was. The most important thing about the S172 notice is that it is completed correctly. If it is intentionally filled out with false information, a charge of perverting the course of justice can be preferred. This is far more severe in consequence than failing to nominate who was driving. Failure to comply with the S172 notice will result in a fine of up to £1000 fine and the imposition of 6 penalty points. The Court can also impose a discretionary disqualification in more serious cases rather than the imposition of penalty points. E-Scooter Legislation E-scooters come under the category of ‘powered transporters’ which fall within the legal definition of a motor vehicle pursuant to the Road Traffic Act 1988. On that basis the rules that apply to motor vehicles also apply to e-scooters. As a motor vehicle, e-scooters must comply with Road Traffic Legislation which includes but is not limited to:  Driving with a licence·  Driving / riding with insurance·  Driving / riding other than on a road·  Need to be taxed· Any person who uses an e-scooter on a public road or other public place must comply with the relevant Road Traffic Legislation otherwise they could face potential prosecution. Fees and Representation Road Traffic Legislation and cases can be highly complex and can vary widely. We will attempt to provide you with a fixed fee for advice or court representation, however as each case can be very different it will be looked at on its own merits and the fee options available will be discussed in each case accordingly. Factors to be considered include the location of the court, sentencing guidelines starting point, whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty, anticipated length of the hearing and the urgency of the hearing i.e., if representation is required at very short notice. The number of hours it will take to deal with your case can vary greatly and an estimation will be given once we have details of your case. The time taken will include taking instructions from you, preparing your case and representation at Court. If in your case it is necessary to instruct an expert, that expert witness will be asked to provide a quote of their costs in advance. Lawise has a Crime Legal Aid contract. If you are on low income, please advise us and we will carry out a Legal Aid assessment. However please note that for some Road Traffic Offences, legal aid may be refused regardless of your income if there are no complexities. For further information, a quote or to instruct our firm, please contact Lawise Solicitors, 5 Bell Parade, Bell Road, Hounslow, Middlesex, TW3 3NU or telephone 0208 572 9734 / 07854 311390 or by email