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Motoring Offence Advice


OFFENCES(Click on an offence for more information)
Careless DrivingContravening Traffic Signs & MarkingsDangerous DrivingDrink Driving / Excess AlcoholDrunk in ChargeExceptional HardshipExcess Weight / Overloaded VehicleFailure To Provide a SpecimenMobile Phone UseNOTICE OF INTENDED PROSECUTIONPenalty Points / Totting UpSpecial ReasonsSpeedingTraffic Light Offences



Careless Driving

"Driving without due care and attention may be said to mean departing from the standard of driving which would be exercised by a reasonable, prudent competent driver in all the circumstances of the particular case".

MAXIMUM PENALTY
9 points OR disqualification


More Information on Careless Driving


Contravening Traffic Signs & Markings

White lines, that is both double and hatched, wherever they are placed must comply with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 and if they do not then a person contravening them commits no offence even if the lines are readily recognisable as double white lines or a hatched area. The Regulations are very detailed. They must give precise dimensions for width of lines and spacing and these must be strictly observed by the Highways Authority. Failure to so do provides a defence.

MAXIMUM PENALTY
Discretionary disqualification or 3 penalty points.


More Information on Contravening Traffic Signs & Markings


Dangerous Driving

A person whose driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver is guilty of an offence. Hot pursuit chases on roads by police cars are obvious examples of dangerous driving but a speeding case of 100+ mph is also likely to be charged as dangerous driving.

Your solicitor can call on the services of ex senior police drivers and driving instructors to reconstruct the alleged offence and provide expert testimony where necessary in your defence.

A court must endorse and disqualify for at least 12 months, unless you are able to persuade the court on "special reasons" or "exceptional hardship" grounds that you should not be disqualified, in which case they must endorse your licence with 3 - 11 penalty points. In serious cases there is also risk of imprisonment, or a community penalty order of up to 300 hours unpaid work, particularly so if a death has been caused by the dangerous driving.

MAXIMUM PENALTY
If the matter is dealt with in the Magistrates Court at least 12 months disqualification and/or a maximum 6 months imprisonment.

If the matter is dealt with in the Crown Court - 2 years imprisonment

The Court MUST order an extended retest before you can drive again.


More Information on Dangerous Driving


Drink Driving / Excess Alcohol

If you fail to provide a specimen for analysis.

If you a member of one of the professions, eg. barrister, solicitor, accountant, chartered surveyor or a doctor your professional body may itself impose additional sanctions for unbefitting conduct. Therefore if you value your licence and your career you should seek expert advice from a motorist solicitor to see if you can identify any defences, technical, legal or factual which may help you at least keep the period of your disqualification to a minimum.

MAXIMUM PENALTY
Mandatory disqualification for at least 12 months and up to 6 months imprisonment.

Mandatory disqualification of 36 months for a further offence within 10 years.


More Information on Drink Driving / Excess Alcohol


Drunk in Charge

Drunk in charge of a vehicle is one of the most difficult offences to disprove. You do not have to be driving to be guilty of this office. If you are sat in the driver's seat, or in possession of the car keys, for whatever reason, whilst "over the limit" there is a presumption that you are "Drunk in Charge".

There are many technical as well as factual defences and even though disqualification is discretionary the 10 penalty points may well bring you within the "totting up" provisions for mandatory disqualification. We recommend seeking expert advice before going to Court. It will cost you but how much is your licence worth?

MAXIMUM PENALTY
Discretionary disqualification and 10 penalty points.

A defendant may argue that the blood alcohol test figures used by the police are incorrect or inadmissible, due to error in the administration of the test. Sometimes, for example, the testing device was not properly maintained (or the maintenance records are wrong), or the officer who administered the test is not properly trained. Sometimes the police will violate their own procedures when something goes wrong during testing - such as failing to observe the suspect for the appropriate time before administering the test, or failing to call a supervisor in response to an error message, despite a policy to do so. Failure to give proper "chemical test rights" warnings may also result in the exclusion of the test results. Also, it may be argued that certain medical conditions or medications inflated the test results.


More Information on Drunk in Charge


Exceptional Hardship

Exceptional Hardship does not mean the hardship and inconvenience disqualification will cause to the driver. Everyone who is disqualified suffers hardship and inconvenience. The hardship must be to others, ie. employees, third parties or other family members.

In order to persuade a Court not to disqualify needs not only expert advocacy but the proper presentation to the Court of the evidence upon which the driver seeks to rely.

Drivers can plead in a magistrates' court against disqualification on the grounds of 'exceptional hardship'. 'It is open for the magistrates to find on the facts of each case,' says Alastair Coggins, of law firm Gardner Leader. 'Exceptional hardship must go beyond what magistrates would reasonably expect you to suffer. Most magistrates think it's foreseeable that if you get more than 12 points and are banned, you will lose your job. So that does not on its own count as exceptional hardship, but every case is different.'




Excess Weight / Overloaded Vehicle

The fines and penalties for overloaded vehicles, especially commercial vehicles, are considerable.

The law in this field is complex and the assistance of an expert solicitor is always advisable.

Do you know that you are liable to prosecution if you drive an overloaded vehicle?

The legislation imposes fines of up to £5,000 for each offence; that is each overloaded axle plus any overloading on total weight. These fines can be imposed on you. It is not just your employer and/or the owner of the vehicle who may be liable. There is every possibility that if an overload is detected you will be prosecuted. You may also get 3 penalty points on your drivers licence.

Think of the problems you will have should your vehicle be prohibited. You will not be able to continue your journey until your load has been redistributed or the excess removed.


More Information on Excess Weight / Overloaded Vehicle


Failure To Provide a Specimen

You may have perfectly good reasons for "failing to provide" and these will need to be advanced before the Magistrates by an expert advocate. There are also many technical defences which are known only to those with a sound knowledge of "case law", with which the police and the prosecutor are unlikely to help you, after all their only object is to secure a conviction.

MAXIMUM PENALTY
Mandatory disqualification for at least 12 months, a minimum period of 24 months is suggested in the Magistrates' Sentencing Guidelines and a possibility of 6 months imprisonment.

Drunk driving may seem like a relatively minor offense, but it is in fact one of the more complicated criminal charges for prosecutors to bring. There are many technical defenses that an attorney may be able to raise, to assist you either in avoiding conviction, negotiating a lesser charge, or in reducing the consequences of conviction.




Mobile Phone Use


Itís illegal to ride a motorcycle or drive using hand-held phones or similar devices.

The rules are the same if youíre stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

Itís also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

Penalties for using your phone while driving

You can get an automatic fixed penalty notice if youíre caught using a hand-held phone while driving or riding. Youíll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100.

Your case could also go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

New drivers

Youíll lose your licence if you get 6 or more penalty points within 2 years of passing your test.

When you can use a phone in your vehicle

If youíre the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:
• need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and itís unsafe or impractical to stop

• are safely parked

Using hands-free devices when driving

You can use hands-free phones, sat navs and 2-way radios when youíre driving or riding. But if the police think youíre distracted and not in control of your vehicle you could still get stopped and penalised.




NOTICE OF INTENDED PROSECUTION

When a vehicle has allegedly been involved in a Road Traffic Violation which has been recorded on a sensor/radar operated camera (GATSO, SUDD, SPECS, VASCAR, etc) or been involved in an incident reported to the police the REGISTERED KEEPER will receive from the police a form entitled "NOTICE OF INTENDED PROSECUTION" requiring the keeper to furnish the details of the driver at the time of the alleged offence.

Before completing the required form you should phone your solicitor for expert advice.

Providing the driver's details will inevitably result in the driver receiving a summons for the offence. Failing to furnish the information may result in the registered keeper being prosecuted on conviction of which he will receive 3 penalty points or a fine of up to £1000.

However there are numerous technical defences available to the defence which normally result in the police discontinuing the prosecution or the magistrates acquitting the driver.

The following offences require (under Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 - you'll find the whole Act here) that you be given notice of the fact that you may be prosecuted:-

1) Dangerous Driving
2) Careless & Inconsiderate driving
3) Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous place
4) Dangerous cycling
5) Careless & Inconsiderate cycling
6) Failing to conform with the indication of a police officer when directing traffic
7) Failing to comply with a traffic sign
8) Exceeding temporary speed restrictions imposed by s 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
9) Exceeding speed restrictions on a special road
10) Exceeding temporary speed limit imposed by order
11) Speeding offences generally




Penalty Points / Totting Up

On motoring offences points do not win prizes, most motoring offences carry mandatory penalty points of between 3 - 10 points. If you accumulate 12 penalty points ("totting up") within a 3 year period you are liable to mandatory disqualification for at least 6 months, if it is your second "totting up" disqualification then the minimum is 12 months.

However, the Courts do make mistakes in interpreting the complex laws surrounding disqualification and expert help is advisable.

Further, the Courts do have a discretion not to disqualify if they are satisfied that there was a "special reason" for committing the offence which would take you on to 12 points or more or if "exceptional hardship" can be shown. In either case we strongly advise paying for an expert solicitor to represent you. HOW MUCH IS YOUR LICENCE WORTH TO YOU?

See also "Special Reasons" and "Exceptional Hardship" as grounds for avoiding the mandatory "totting up" disqualification.

The penalty point system is intended to deter drivers from following unsafe driving practices. The court MUST order points to be endorsed on the licence according to the fixed number or the range set by Parliament. The accumulation of penalty points acts as a warning to drivers that they risk disqualification if further offences are committed.


More Information on Penalty Points / Totting Up


Special Reasons

Special reasons for not disqualifying should not be confused with exceptional hardship. Special reasons only relate to the offence itself, that is any reasonable excuse you may have had for breaking the law. Exceptional hardship is the advancing of arguments to the Court after conviction as to why you should not be disqualified.

It is always advisable when advancing either Special Reasons or Exceptional Hardship to be represented by an expert solicitor. HOW MUCH IS YOUR LICENCE WORTH?

The Court can decide not to impose a period of mandatory disqualification or not endorse a driver's licence with penalty points if they find that special reasons exist why this should not be done.

A special reason is defined in law as being one that satisfies all of these four conditions:

1) it is a mitigating circumstance, one which tends to reduce the seriousness of the offence

2) it is not a defence to the charge in law

3) it is directly connected with the circumstances in which the offence was committed and not related just to the personal circumstances of the driver

4) it is a factor which the Court ought properly to take into consideration

An example of facts capable of amounting to a special reason not to endorse or disqualify is shortness of distance travelled: eg. where a car is moved a distance of feet, whilst the driver is over the drink-drive limit.

The Court will have to be satisfied that the facts do amount to a special reason in a particular case, and a special hearing to determine this will be required




Speeding

The police rely on various detection devices to prosecute speeding motorists. The most common are various types of fixed or mobile laser cameras. Detections such as GATSO, SVDD, SPECS.

If you are stopped by a police officer using a hand-held "radar" gun you should make no admissions as quite often the policeman has failed to follow mandatory procedures thus creating technical defences.

If you are not stopped but receive a NOTICE OF INTENDED PROSECUTION in the post requesting the identity of the driver do NOT return this form until you have spoken to a solicitor.

MAXIMUM PENALTY
6 penalty points or disqualification for the offence itself.

UKMotorists does not condone breaking the law. However, it's clear that speeding offences are now being seen as a major source of generating revenue, and this seems to be leading to an approach to the administration of justice that's focussed on "administration" rather than "justice".


More Information on Speeding


Traffic Light Offences

Prosecutions are based either on personal observation by a police officer or by a fixed camera operated by a sensor.

If you are not stopped by the police at the scene of the alleged violation but receive a NOTICE OF INTENDED PROSECUTION in the post requesting the identity of the driver do NOT return this form until you have spoken to us.

Again there are many technical defences.

MAXIMUM PENALTY
Discretionary disqualification or 3 penalty points

Remember 12 points nearly always = disqualification

Jumping red lights is becoming a frighteningly common occurrence - with the latest figures showing that traffic cameras in London are catching almost 10,000 drivers every month.


More Information on Traffic Light Offences



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