Pleading Guilty to a Driving Offence

Pleading guilty to a driving offence at court

If you have a sentencing hearing in the Crown Court for a serious driving offence, you will be represented by a specialist motoring law barrister. You can plead guilty to some motoring offences in writing, either online or by post. If you need help to plead guilty in writing, get in touch.

Some offences require you to go to court to enter your plea, or for sentencing. You will need to go to court if:

  • You will reach 12 or more penalty points and are at risk of a totting up disqualification
  • You have committed a more serious offence and are at risk of disqualification, imprisonment or a community order.

If you are supposed to go to court and do not attend, the court is likely to deal with your case in your absence. This is likely to result in you being convicted or sentenced without your knowledge. The court could also issue a warrant for your arrest. If you are on bail for an offence such as drink driving, you would commit a separate offence if you did not attend.

If for any reason you cannot attend court, you must contact the court and let them know why.

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Who will be at your court hearing?

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The Magistrates

In the Magistrates’ Court, there will be two or three magistrates, who are not legally qualified but have had some legal training. Alternatively, there may be one District Judge (DJ) who will be an experienced solicitor or barrister.

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Legal Advisor

In front of the Magistrates or DJ, there will be a legal adviser. They are qualified solicitors or barristers. He or she is there to assist the court and ensure that the law is applied correctly. They should not influence the decision of the court.

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The Prosecution

Facing the legal adviser will be a prosecutor acting on behalf of the police. They are also qualified solicitors or barristers.

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Your Representation

If you have representation, your solicitor or barrister will stand on the opposite side to the prosecutor, facing the legal adviser. You will sit in the dock or in a chair designated for the defendant.

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The Public

There may be press in court or member of the public. Most criminal proceedings are held in open courts so the public is permitted to go into the courtroom.

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Witnesses

Witnesses are not required to attend court unless there is going to be a trial. The court will not ask them to go to the first court hearing. If you are pleading guilty and your case has not been listed for a trial, the police and other witnesses will not be there.

Procedure

This is an overview of the procedure of a guilty plea in the Magistrates’ Court.

Preliminaries

The legal adviser asks you as the defendant to confirm your name, date of birth, address and nationality. They also read the charge to you and you enter your plea of guilty or not guilty.

The Prosecution

The prosecutor will give the court a summary of the circumstances of the offence. They may say some things that you disagree with, but you should not interrupt them. Your solicitor will get the opportunity to address those points later when they put forward mitigation. The prosecutor may refer to the Sentencing Guidelines and will also ask for a contribution to the cost of bringing the case.

The Defence

Your solicitor will explain the circumstances to the court in an attempt to get you a lighter sentence. This can include reasons or explanations of why you committed the offence and also details of the impact it would have on you depending on the sentence imposed.

It will often be appropriate for your lawyer to hand up any references or other documents which support the mitigation.

Closing Arguments

The prosecution will make another closing speech. The defence will make its closing speech. This is the point when a good solicitor will highlight the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case and refer to any points made in the opening speech which were not proven.

The Decision

The Magistrates or DJ may leave the room to make their decision or they may remain in the court.

They will come back into court and ask you to stand up before announcing their decision. With more serious offences, the court may want you to speak with a probation officer before making a sentencing decision. Depending on the availability of probation, the case may need to be adjourned to another date.

If you have to pay a fine, you may be asked how you soon you can make payment. The court may allow you to pay the fine in instalments if you will have difficulty paying it all at once.

Do you need help protecting your driving licence?

Talk to us today about how we can help you with your driving offence.

Pleading guilty to a motoring offence FAQs

Do I need a solicitor to plead guilty?

It depends on your circumstances but it is advisable if you are:

  • worried about the hearing and would like the reassurance of having someone on your side who knows what to do.
  • at risk of disqualification or penalty points that will result in the revocation of your licence.
  • not sure if you are guilty and would like a second opinion.
  • facing a serious offence which carries a possible risk of imprisonment, such as drink driving, dangerous driving or failing to stop or report.
  • worried that you may not be able to express what you want in court.

If you think you can represent yourself but would like some guidance, we can arrange a conference with you to explain the procedure, answer any questions and advise you on how to prepare for court. 

Does it look worse if I have a solicitor come to court with me?

No, it will not look worse. If anything, it should convince the court that you are taking the matter very seriously. It will not make you look guilty.

We have even represented other solicitors in court who do not have a background in criminal law.

What should I wear to a magistrates court?

You should dress respectfully in the way you would for a job interview. Ideally, you should avoid denim and tracksuits if possible. Do not wear ripped jeans or shorts to a court or you risk getting turned away. 

If you have to go to court straight from work and do not have time to get changed, do not worry as the court should be understanding.

Can I take someone with me to court?

Yes, you can take someone with you for support. It is best to keep the number of people to a minimum as there is not always enough room in the court for everyone.

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Mission DanMission Dan
09:07 25 Jun 22
Absolutely saved my business. Took on my case, were direct from the start, kept me informed and worked behind the scenes to push my case and get my license returned, despite a somewhat archaic court house. You can tell pragma are specialists in this field and i genuinely recommend them 100% (thanks to lucy, david and claire) you saved my bacon
hayley smithhayley smith
12:14 15 Jun 22
Lucy was extremely thorough , professional and very emphatic. She always took the time to make everything totally clear and gave excellent guidance throughout.My son was facing a charge of death by dangerous driving. His sentenced was reduced to a suspended one with the help of Lucy and her teams expertise.This is a rare outcome.We are enormously grateful for her support and patience throughout the case, and can not recommend her highly enough!
Atanas CAtanas C
18:51 26 May 22
Just out of few miles.As we wheel around we do step at times on the lines labelled as traffic law. You could be fine at the moment but the sweet moment does not last. Out of just a few miles, the minute problem starts snowballing to a self-unmanageable level. Paper from traffic police paper from the court, bitter mouth, the clock is ticking and nothing sensible comes to mind of what to write to the court rep. When a problem starts simmering and climes we tend to run out of fit ideas. Some call it panicking and I agree. Pragma law has a different set of remedies for similar situations. And I am sharing this from experience. Lucy from Pragma listened to my story and said the problem is not as big as my mixed at the time mind thought it was. ‘’Leave with me and answer my emails timely and don’t worry’’ she said. Six weeks later I was out of the mud. Just like that, …out of a few miles.
Combe ClovisCombe Clovis
09:51 26 May 22
I just want to say thank you so much for your support for your help and advice, I really appreciate your services I was panicking, i couldn't sleep for properly because the thoughts l couldn't imagine losing my licence or getting banned for 6 months because l drive for living getting banned for 6 months means loosing my income for 6 months therefore loosing my home and get into really hardship so I really appreciate prgma low and special thanks to Mr David swingler who was there for me and advice me and defend my case really well and win the case for me instead of 6 months disqualification I got 14 days this for me it was big win thanks to David Swingler and Pragma Low.
Ismail KhanIsmail Khan
15:13 03 May 22
Very diligent, professional and helpful. Lucy prioritised us as our case was time-sensitive and was very prompt and accessible at all times whenever we needed to communicate with her. She helped us get the best possible outcome. Highly recommended!
Neil BrittonNeil Britton
14:33 23 Apr 22
Their pricing is less than that of other specialists.David did a great job of defending me in court.They communicated well and went out of their way to help.Couldn't recommend these solicitors enough.10/10
Michael GillespieMichael Gillespie
17:09 21 Apr 22
Fantastic service and representation. Great result.
Fahd The REAPER MoenisFahd The REAPER Moenis
19:24 20 Feb 22
Lucy is really professional and i was so relaxed and happy to deal with her
shaun allmanshaun allman
17:51 02 Feb 22
Great service, communication and informative with all the advice given to me. Very much will recommend to all my family and friends should they ever need a trustworthy and professional solicitor to help with advice and proceedings with motoring offences.
Filip Rares-NicolaeFilip Rares-Nicolae
18:17 24 Jan 22
Absolutely amazing from start to finish.Was extremely worried about a situation I had got myself in.Was a very very nervous time for me as losing my license would have meant I lost everything including my job.Pragma Law team was helpful, professional, clear and thorough from the outset.It was Lucy Whitaker who represented me in court and I cant stress enough how fantastic she was in that court room. I received the best possible outcome and kept my license. Without her I would of undoubtedly lost my license.As far as I am concerned this was a one off and will never ever happen again, however if I ever was in any situation of this kind in the future there is no where else I would turn.Can not recommend highly enough!
a tanasa tanas
18:02 25 Nov 21
Working with Lucy Whitaker as my lawyer has been the best thing I could have ever done. She sorted out my problem as BEST and i truly recommend her to anyone that needs to solve car problems.Flavia Campilli
Joseph PaynterJoseph Paynter
16:18 12 Nov 21
I recently had a case involving an E-Scooter, unfortunately I committed an offence that I didn't even know was illegal. I contacted Pragma Law after reading reviews and outcomes of similar cases, and was put into contact with Lucy Whitaker. Lucy was very professional throughout the whole process, and was very realistic with me about my outcome from the initial phone call. The consultation was extremely through and well carried out, and Lucy was always available to contact if I had any questions. I couldn't have asked for a better outcome from the court after Lucy's representation- from the potential of a suspended sentence reduced to a ban on the lower end of the range, and without a community order. In the court room Lucy was very good at explaining to the Magistrates that the seriousness of the case was nothing like what the sentencing guidelines were designed to punish for (driving a car) and this is what got my punishment reduced. The prices are reasonable, and transparent from the initial phone call with no hidden costs. Would definitely recommend.
Tim NVTim NV
14:43 14 Oct 21
Was really impressed with PL and Lucy. Was given great advice (which I wouldn’t have been able to obtain without guidance) throughout the whole process. Every time we communicated over the phone it was followed up with a written email with actions, next steps etc. was also fortunate enough to work with her colleague David too who represented my case where I avoided a ban of 6 months.
Abi CorsiAbi Corsi
16:39 14 Sep 21
Lucy is the best lawyer I could have possibly found. I unexpectedly received a letter from the police who at the time intended to prosecute me for driving an electric scooter without insurance, and without a license. I was terrified as if found guilty, I would receive 6 penalty points and would have lost my drivers license. Other solicitors I called said unfortunately there was nothing they could do. Lucy on the other hand immediately reassured me and wrote a letter to the police which persuaded them to drop the charges completely. I honestly can’t recommend her enough. Thank you Lucy!
Aziz AbilovAziz Abilov
15:29 31 Aug 21
I contacted Pragma Law when I wanted to appeal against a decision made in the Magistrates court. Lucy had picked up my case and advised me on the next steps. She helped me with everything that was required, advised me on all possible outcomes of the appeal, helped me get my licence back until the appeal hearing comes along, and then went ahead and got the appeal accepted in the Crown court. She is not only the best solicitor I’ve worked with, but she is also a wonderful human being. Very lovely and easy to work with, even the judges loved her! I 100% recommend you to contact them with any issues you have.
Asad AhmedAsad Ahmed
15:41 21 May 21
5* have dealt with lucy twice now! Very professional. Knows what shes doing! Would definitely recommend!
Bobby CharlesBobby Charles
19:05 07 Feb 21
I have had an extremely positive experience with Lucy Whittaker. She is very knowledgeable, very proactive and always explains things in a clear and precise.She was able to convince the court to drop a driving without due care charge despite the police and the CPS disareeing.I would hesitate to recommend Lucy and Pragma Law anyone who needs assistance.
harry bedderharry bedder
15:53 16 Dec 20
Fantastic Service provided by Lucy, very profesional and quick at getting you answers and providing the help you might need! I will definitly be recomening Pragma Law to anyone I know that has a motoring proplem please do the same...
Jobin Mathew JosephJobin Mathew Joseph
18:11 25 Nov 20
Absolutely brilliant! 100 percent reliable! The case was related to driving matter and I had initially approached few other solicitors for help with my case. They all denied saying we would not win the case. But Lucy happily took the case and help me win the case with the best possible outcome.She puts you at ease and confidence. Very responsive in your queries. She genuinely care for case and very pleasant to deal with. Always well prepared and wins you the best possible outcome. Very Very Strongly recommend. Thanks much Lucy.
Lewis CobleyLewis Cobley
11:12 05 Nov 20
I highly recommend Pragma Law for any motoring problem. They were very efficient and professional even with little time to prepare.
A Google User
A Google User
14:30 04 Jul 20
What can I say about pragma law and Lucy whitaker, 1st class absolutely brilliant!!!. I had my licence revoked last October due to vasovagal syncope (faint) from the word go Lucy was brilliant, and I only dealt with her, she explained everything, in every stage extremely professional in everything she does, and had my licence back. What a result!!! thank you so much Lucy.
hannah vanessahannah vanessa
15:45 15 Jun 20
I suffer with anxiety (as many) and this incident completely took over my life for months until I met Lucy. I was super comfortable and confident in her work as she was very professional and was always available to help. Really helped take the stress away - thanks Lucy and thanks Pragma!
Wayne DaviesWayne Davies
14:51 08 Jun 20
What can I say about pragma law and Lucy whitaker, 1st class absolutely brilliant!!!. I had my licence revoked last October due to vasovagal syncope (faint) from the word go Lucy was brilliant, and I only dealt with her, she explained everything, in every stage extremely professional in everything she does, and had my licence back. What a result!!! thank you so much Lucy.
Rukhsar LatifRukhsar Latif
13:59 19 May 20
Lucy genuinly cares about her clients she took on my case dealt with everything herself and won my case I couldn't be happier with the results and the service. I will definitely be using Pragma Law again if needs be.
Vicky ClarkeVicky Clarke
20:16 03 Mar 20
I couldn't have hoped for a better solicitor. Lucy did everything she could to get the best possible outcome for me, and I can't thank her enough
Paul MercerPaul Mercer
17:19 31 Jan 20
Lucy Whitaker provided an impressive, cost effective service. She was objective, responded quickly to questions and, I believe, offered the best advice before efficiently dealing with a case as it came to court.I would have no hesitation either in using Lucy again, should the need arise, or recommending her services.
Rebecca HodkinsonRebecca Hodkinson
16:33 19 Nov 19
Lucy represented me in a driving case and I couldn't be happier. She was friendly, professional and pragmatic without giving me false hope. The outcome was a more positive one than I expected and that's down to her advice and detailed preparations. Would highly recommend! Thank you Lucy!
Gary SykesGary Sykes
22:12 04 Oct 19
We were so impressed with Lucy Whitaker. She represented our son in an unusual driving case which thanks to her knowledge, care & understanding, ended in a much better than expected outcome. Clear, concise & professional, we highly recommend her... can't thank her enough!!
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