The home office recorded a whopping 2.4 million motoring offences in 2017, with a particular increase in offences including speeding and failing to supply the identity of a driver when required. Motoring offences are a serious crime and they can result in a fine, the loss of your licence or even jail time.
Many people rely on a vehicle for their livelihoods, not to mention everyday activities like driving to the supermarket or taking the kids to school. The consequences of a driving conviction can be devastating, so it’s vital to seek legal aid as soon as possible if you’ve been accused or charged with a motoring offence. A defence solicitor can help with motoring offences in a number of different ways and they’ll work to ensure an outcome that has as little negative impact on you as possible. If you want to know more about how a solicitor could help you navigate a motoring offence, read on for our handy guide.
What are motoring offences?
Any type of motoring offence is serious, but they cover a wide range with varying degrees of severity. Common types of motoring offence include:
- Dangerous driving - including driving aggressively, illegal racing and overtaking other vehicles
- Drink driving
- Careless driving e.g poor lane discipline and swerving
- Fatal collision
- Driving under the influence of drugs
- Driving without insurance
- Texting while driving
- Driving without a licence
- Failure to provide a specimen when required.
The consequences of a motoring offence will depend on your driving history and the type of offence committed, but we will discuss this in more detail below.
The consequences of motoring offences
The consequences of a conviction for a motoring offence can be very serious and you may lose your livelihood or even face jail time. Some of the more minor punishments include points on your licence, a small fine or higher insurance premiums. More serious offences means you risk losing your licence altogether, higher fines or a jail sentence. We’ll look at a few common motoring offences and their consequences in more detail below.
The amount of alcohol you can drink and still stay under the legal blood alcohol limit will depend on a variety of factors, including your size and how much you’ve had to eat. If in doubt, it’s always best to refrain from drinking alcohol if you know you need to drive later.
Police can pull you over at any time if they suspect drink driving and you'll need to take a breathalyser test. If you fail to comply or are found to be over the limit, you can be arrested on suspicion of drink driving and taken to a police station. Conviction for drink driving can result in a possible driving ban, an unlimited fine and a six month prison sentence.
Dangerous driving is classed as that which ‘falls far below what would be expected of competent and careful driving’. Dangerous driving offences are very serious and they’re dealt with by Magistrates’ Court or Crown court, depending on the severity. Potential punishments for dangerous driving include a driving ban, an unlimited fine and up to 14 years in prison.
You can be charged for driving under the influence of both legal and illegal drugs if the substances affect the safety or competence of your driving. Don’t assume that you can’t be prosecuted for drug driving if you don’t take illegal recreational drugs, as prescription medications can still affect your performance on the road.
A drug driving conviction can result in a driving ban of at least a year, an unlimited fine or up to six months in prison.
The penalties for careless driving aren’t usually as severe compared to dangerous driving offences, but you could still be hit with a £100 fine and three points on your licence. More serious offences could result in a case going to court and a fine of up to £2,500, as well as a driving ban.
A fatality as a result of careless driving is of course very serious and you could face a driving ban, unlimited fine or prison sentence of up to five years.
Driving without insurance
If you drive on a public road without insurance, you run the risk of being caught out by a police automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera. This results in an automatic fine of £300 and you’ll receive six penalty points on your licence. Police also have the power to seize the vehicle and you won’t be covered if the car is insured but not in your name.
If you already have points on your licence or commit a repeat offence then you could face an unlimited fine and driving ban.
How can a solicitor help?
As you can see, the punishments for motoring offences can be severe. A conviction could destroy your livelihood, reputation or make life very difficult, so it’s vital to seek professional help if you’ve been charged with a motoring offence. A solicitor can offer professional help and advice and appeal on your behalf to try to reduce the severity of the punishment. If you want to know more about how a solicitor could help, read on.
The courts may consider disqualifying you from driving if you have 12 or more points on your licence. However, a solicitor can appeal on your behalf if there is evidence that a driving ban would cause ‘exceptional hardship’. You might rely on a vehicle to do your job, or have no alternative to take your children to school.
Pleading exceptional hardship could allow you to continue driving, or the courts may agree to a much shorter ban. You’ll need to prove that a driving ban would significantly impact your life (far more than the average inconvenience) but a solicitor will be able to help you put together a case.
You may be technically guilty of a driving offence but there’s potential to avoid a ban or points on your licence due to certain special reasons. For example, your drink may have been spiked resulting in drug or drink driving, or you may have been speeding due to an emergency. Special reasons cases can be technical and complicated, but a solicitor will be able to prepare a case and give you all the expert advice you need.
Representation at hearings or a trial
A solicitor will be able to represent you in court and provide a defence if your case results in a trial or a hearing. If you intend to plead not guilty then your case will go to trial, so it’s essential to ensure that you have proper legal representation.
A hearing (for example a special reasons hearing) has a similar structure to a trial, including the presence of witnesses or expert witnesses. Your solicitor can help by gathering evidence, arranging expert witnesses and presenting a case to try and obtain the least severe outcome possible. This might mean that you don’t face a driving ban, have to pay a smaller fine or avoid facing jail time.
Legal services for motoring offences from ITN Solicitors
Have you been charged with a motoring offence? If you need professional client representation for your motoring offence case, get in touch with the team at ITN Solicitors. We can provide assistance relating to a wide range of driving offences, including speeding, drink driving, driving without insurance, fatal collision and many more. We’re on hand to help you at every stage of your case, from the first hearing, to trial representation, appeals and exceptional hardship hearings.
We can offer fixed fees for advice and representation in many cases and we’ll be able to tell you if you qualify for legal aid. It’s important to act quickly so don’t delay, give us a call today or contact us online to find out how we could help.