Driver Avoids Totting Ban for a Second Time

Driver Avoids Totting Ban for a Second Time

A driver who had been disqualified for 6 months in the magistrates’ court after a second ‘totting up’ offence instructed us to help with an appeal. He had already successfully argued exceptional hardship around 18 months ago but had since committed a further driving offence.

Lucy Whitaker represented him in the Crown Court arguing that there were new grounds for the court to find exceptional hardship. Only if the court found that there were new circumstances could it consider an exceptional hardship argument.

The prosecutor opposed the argument that the grounds put forward were new. He stated that they had already been considered by the court on the last occasion and could not be taken into account by the court. The court disagreed and accepted our new argument.

After a lengthy hearing, the Judge and two magistrates agreed that exceptional hardship would be caused to the defendant’s grandmother. They, therefore, allowed the appeal and did not disqualify our client.

It is usually a difficult task getting a court to accept a second exceptional hardship argument within 3 years. It can be even more tricky in the crown court where the setting is very formal and rules are more strictly adhered to. Needless to say, our client was delighted that Lucy managed to save his driving licence.

 

 

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No Penalty Points for Driving Without Insurance

No Penalty Points for Driving Without Insurance

Driver avoids penalty points for driving without insurance using special reasons

We recently represented a driver who was caught driving without insurance because his policy had not been renewed. 

He had difficulties reading and writing and had relied on his mother to help him with emails and letters. When the letter arrived from the insurers informing him of the increase in premiums for the following year, his mother did not read it all. Unfortunately, she did not see the wording which asked the policyholder to take action if they wanted to renew it. 

Although the driver could not argue with the fact that he had been driving while uninsured, we could explain the circumstances to the court. This involved a hearing with family members giving evidence. After hearing all of the evidence, the court agreed that special reasons existed not to endorse his licence. The court accepted that he had relied on a person in a position of authority and that reliance was reasonable. It would be unfair to put points on his licence when he had no way of knowing that the policy had lapsed. 

Note: Driving without insurance usually carries 6-8 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. 

If you have been charged with driving without insurance and require legal support, please contact us today.

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Company Not Guilty of Failing to Give Driver Details

Company Not Guilty of Failing to Give Driver Details

Our company client was acquitted of failing to give driver details after a trial in the Magistrates’ Court this week. One of its vehicles had been allegedly caught speeding and a request for driver details and notice of intended prosecution was sent out by the police.

The company did not receive either the notice or the reminder and could not respond to them. The prosecution insisted on proceeding to a trial despite the company giving other examples of mail having gone astray.

Lawyer Lucy Whitaker represented the company at the trial where an employee of the company gave evidence about the systems in place for dealing with mail. He told the court about the severe disruption to their mail resulting from the pandemic. Mail had had to be collected from the sorting office on numerous occasions and letters from banks and other organisations had never reached them.

The prosecution urged the court to convict on the basis that there was no written evidence of a complaint to Royal Mail or of any other mail going missing. Despite this, the magistrates confirmed that they were in no doubt that the requests for driver details had not been received and that if they had been, the company would have responded.

The company was found not guilty and accordingly no penalty imposed.

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The UK Rules on Electric Scooters

The UK Rules on Electric Scooters

Where can you ride an electric scooter?

Electric Scooters are classed as motor vehicles for the purposes of the Road Traffic Act 1988. This means that you require insurance to ride them on the road or in a public place. If you don’t have insurance, you will be committing an offence of using a motor vehicle without insurance.

The requirement to hold insurance applies whether you are riding on the road or other public place – which includes on the pavement.

The problem is that adequate insurance is not available for privately owned e-scooters.  The councils across the country which are trialling the use of hired electric scooters do provide insurance. This means that it is permitted to ride the scooters involved in those trials, provided you do so within the rules.

It is the lack of insurance available that makes riding a privately owned scooter illegal. If you are caught riding them on a road or public place without insurance, you face a minimum of 6 penalty points on your driving licence.

How can riding an electric scooter affect my driving licence?

Because an e-scooter is classed as a motor vehicle, you can receive penalty points for offences just as you can if you are driving a car or motorbike. You can also be disqualified from driving if you are, for example, caught drink driving (or drink riding) on an e-scooter.

This may seem unfair but it is becoming increasingly more common. We have represented scooter riders facing no insurance offences and drink driving offences.

What if I don’t have a driving licence?

Even if you don’t have a licence, you can receive penalty points or be disqualified. DVLA will create a record for you and any convictions will be endorsed on that record. Many council schemes require you to hold at least a provisional licence before hiring a scooter.

What about e-bikes?

These are treated differently from e-scooters because there is legislation that exempts them as motor vehicles. You are therefore not required to hold insurance to ride them. The existence of working pedals to drive them forward is what makes them different.

Can you ride an electric scooter on the pavement?

No, they should be ridden on the road. The same goes for bikes, whether electric or not. Whether the police will enforce this rule is a different matter.

 

E Scooters no longer illegal

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5 Day Totting Ban Wipes Points from Licence

5 Day Totting Ban Wipes Points from Licence

We represented a driver facing with 6 points already on his licence. He faced two further charges of failing to provide driver details. Each offence carries 6 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. The court will usually impose penalty points where a driver is facing a totting up ban for reaching 12 or more points.

Unfortunately, our client had forgotten to update his DVLA logbook resulting in requests for driver information being sent to an old address. He was not the driver of the vehicle involved in the original speeding offences but had no defence to the offences of failing to give driver details. The police would not drop the offences so in these circumstances, we advised him to plead guilty.

The court imposed 6 points for each offence taking him to a total of 18 penalty points. However, we successfully argued exceptional hardship to avoid the usual 6-month ban.

The court imposed a shorter totting ban of 5 days! This meant that our client’s penalty points would be wiped from his licence after serving this short ban.

It is relatively uncommon for the courts to impose a totting ban shorter than 6 months so this was an exceptionally good result with which our client was delighted!

 

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Not Guilty of Not Being in Proper Control of a Vehicle

Not Guilty of Not Being in Proper Control of a Vehicle

The Court did not accept the prosecution’s case that the driver was not in proper control of her vehicle.  She was initially accused of being on her mobile phone while driving by a police officer on foot.

At all times our client denied using or even holding her phone. She was issued with a ticket and chose to fight her case in court. By the time the court papers arrived, the charge had been amended to one of not being in proper control of a vehicle. For this offence, the prosecution doesn’t have to prove that the driver lost control, only that they were not in a position to have control.  For example, if you were driving perfectly normally while reading a newspaper, few people would argue that you were not in proper control.

The police officer came to court and maintained he was certain he had seen our client on her phone. He refused to accept that he could have been mistaken. Yet with our careful cross-examination, his version of events fell apart. It became clear to the court that the officer could not be sure what he had seen. There was no evidence of bad driving and as it is not an offence to have an item in your hand while driving, the court concluded that the police had not proved its case.

Our client was acquitted and walked out of court without points or a fine.

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How We Won a Drunk in Charge Case

How We Won a Drunk in Charge Case

We represented a driver found asleep in his car who was over 4 times the legal alcohol limit. The starting point for being drunk in charge of a vehicle with this level of alcohol according to the sentencing guidelines is a community order and a disqualification of 6-12 months.

At the initial plea hearing, the District Judge made his scepticism clear. It was obvious that he doubted the strength of our argument but we were confident in our advice to defend the charge.

The matter was listed for a trial but in the meantime, the police were uncooperative in providing some of the evidence we requested. The police sought to rely on a summary of a police interview which we were confident did not accurately reflect what had been said by our client. Even two weeks before trial, the police interview recording continued to be withheld by the police. We continued to pursue it and it was finally provided. Upon listening to the recording, it confirmed our suspicion that the summary provided was misleading.

At trial, Lucy represented the client. The interview recording was played and the court heard evidence that our client had no intention of driving while over the legal limit. The court accepted the account he provided in the interview and that given in court as being genuine and truthful. As such, he was found not guilty of the offence. The withheld evidence that we managed to obtain played a vital part in our client’s defence.

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Can you go to Prison for a Driving Offence?

Can you go to Prison for a Driving Offence?

You can’t be sent to prison for most minor driving offences. Some more serious offences may result in a prison sentence depending on the circumstances.

Which driving offences can result in prison?

Below is a brief list of driving offences which may result in immediate imprisonment. It is a rough guide only based on a first offence and does not take into account factors such as personal mitigation. All offences are different and just because prison is a possibility, it may not be inevitable.

Our driving offence solicitors can give bespoke advice about your offence and whether you are at risk of custody. If you are facing an imprisonable offence, we will do our utmost to persuade the court not to impose an immediate sentence.

Prison Most Likely 

Causing death by dangerous driving, causing serious injury by dangerous driving, causing death by careless driving.

Prison Likely

Dangerous driving, high-level drink driving with aggravating factors eg not a first offence or injury caused, failing to stop or report an accident where injury or serious damage is caused, high impairment drug driving with aggravating factors eg not a first offence or injury caused, driving while disqualified, failing to provide a specimen with aggravating factors eg not a first offence or injury caused.

Prison Possible

Drink driving with no aggravating factors, drunk in charge, failing to provide a specimen with no aggravating factors.

Prison Not Possible

Speeding, careless driving, contravening a traffic signal or red light, driving without insurance, driving without a licence, using a mobile phone while driving, driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

The above list is not exhaustive and is not a replacement for professional legal advice. If you are facing an offence that could result in a prison sentence, contact us today.

Can I go to prison for speeding?

As can be seen from the list above, the courts cannot send you to prison for a speeding offence alone. The maximum penalty for speeding is a fine and penalty points or a driving disqualification. The maximum fine depends on the type of road you were driving on and the level of your speed.

Maximum Penalties for Speeding

At present, the offence carries 3-6 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification and a financial penalty up to a maximum of £2,500 if the offence is committed on a motorway and the speed limit is 70mph). In other cases, the maximum fine is £1,000. The fine level itself will also depend on your income which you will have to declare to the court.

Other Penalties for Speeding

The court can’t impose a different sentence for speeding such as unpaid work or a curfew (also known a being on tag).

There is no power for the court to offer a speed awareness course for speeding.

Speeding is not the same as dangerous driving

In a legal sense, speeding isn’t automatically dangerous, but it may be careless. Dangerous driving is a far more serious offence for which you can go to prison.

If the police intend to charge you with dangerous driving instead of or in addition to speeding, they need to make this clear at an early stage. The prosecution cannot simply change the charge from speeding to dangerous driving when the matter comes to court.

It is a question of fact and degree whether the speed a vehicle is driven at is dangerous. The court can take into account factors such as road conditions, visibility, traffic level and other potential hazards.

Whether you are facing a minor or serious driving offence we can advise and help you so please do get in touch.

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Six Month Totting Ban Successfully Appealed in Crown Court

Six Month Totting Ban Successfully Appealed in Crown Court

A driver who was an experienced doctor unsuccessfully represented himself in the magistrates’ court.

He had reached 12 penalty points and was disqualified from driving for six months. He had put forward an exceptional hardship argument to try to avoid a ban, but this was rejected by the magistrates.

We represented him on appeal to the Crown Court and the court decided that he should not be disqualified from driving. His busy schedule meant that he could not rely on taxis or public transport even though finances were not a problem. The Court agreed that his children would be impacted as they could not continue with their sporting activities due to the logistics of getting them to the venues on time.

The Court decided that the children should not suffer exceptional hardship as a result of their father’s mistakes. Therefore he was allowed to keep his licence.

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Mandatory Drink Driving Ban Avoided With Special Reason

Mandatory Drink Driving Ban Avoided With Special Reason

Our client avoided a lengthy disqualification for drink driving by using special reasons. His alcohol reading in breath meant that he would otherwise have been disqualified for between 17 and 22 months.

The driver had been locked out of his house and drove a short distance before deciding it was not a good idea. The police were called and he admitted driving.

He pleaded guilty to drink driving with special reasons. The aim was to try to avoid the usual 17-22 month ban based on his breath reading set out in the sentencing guidelines.

The court accepted that the short distance he drove and low risk of danger to others amounted to a special reason. On that basis, the driver received a far shorter disqualification of three months.

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