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MOTORING LAW

 

Speeding Offences

Speeding offences in a motor vehicle will result in a fixed penalty range from 3–6 penalty points and the current maximum fines are up to £2,500 for motorway offences and up to £1,000 for offences on any other road.

  • In the most serious cases, where the motorist is either 50% or 30 mph+ above the limit, an instant disqualification can be imposed.
  • It is however possible with all speeding offences including those where you are facing a total of 12 penalty points and a six month disqualification to plead mitigating circumstances.
  • There are many different types of mitigation such as the defendant’s speed was not excessive, there was not much traffic on the road, and the road conditions and weather were good with visibility excellent.

It is also possible to argue specifically about the particular characteristics of the Defendant.  For example the defendant’s age and number of years and experience of driving.  If the defendant has a clean licence and the licence is required for the performance of the defendant’s job consideration will be given to the number of points imposed and whether the court should disqualify where the penalty is likely to result in a total of twelve points on the licence – known as “totting”. 

In these circumstances the Court must consider disqualification for a maximum of six months but can reduce this due to mitigating circumstances or forego the right to disqualify altogether.

Drink Driving

Driving or attempting to drive on a road or public place with alcohol over the prescribed limit is a criminal offence. “Driving” means having substantial control over the vehicle and in some instances attempting to start a car is sufficient to be charged with the offence.

The prescribed limits of alcohol are 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood and 107mg of alcohol in 100ml of urine.  If driving above these limits then the offence has been committed. However a prosecution is unlikely to result if the lowest reading in breath is less than 40mg. It is the lower reading which will be used in evidence.

There are very few defences but the most common are;

1.The machine testing the defendant is unreliable.  This will involve calling expert evidence.

2.Alcohol was consumed after driving.  Again specific medical evidence is required to prove this and it is for the defendant to produce this.

The maximum penalty for Driving with Excess Alcohol is £5000 and 6 months imprisonment. The court must disqualify for a minimum of 12 months but this can be increased if there are aggravating circumstances or there has been previous convictions for drink driving during the last ten years in which case the disqualification must be for three years.

The mandatory disqualification periods can be reduced if the Defendant agrees to attend a course and it is also possible to plead special reasons to reduce the sentence.  The most common are shortness of distance travelled, medical emergencies and spiked drinks.

 

Careless driving or driving without due care and attention

The offence of careless driving is committed when a motorist’s driving falls below the standard expected of a competent driver.  The penalties are a fine of up to £2500, mandatory endorsement with three to nine penalty points and discretionary disqualification.

Dangerous Driving

The offence of dangerous driving is committed where a person’s standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

  • If this is tried in the Magistrates court the penalty for dangerous driving is a maximum fine of £5000 and/or 6 months custody.
  • In the Crown Court, the maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. 

Wherever the case is dealt with, the court must disqualify the driver from driving for at least a year and order an extended retest.  Where "special reasons" are found for not disqualifying the court must endorse the drivers licence with 3-11 penalty points unless there are, again, "special reasons" for not doing so. 

Dangerous driving includes situations where the driver has of his own free will adopted a particular way of driving, and also where there is a substantial error of judgement.  If the driving that caused the danger was taken as a deliberate decision, this would be an aggravating feature of the offence and would result in higher fines and a greater chance of imprisonment.

It is important to remember that the manner of the driving must be seen in the context of the surrounding circumstances in which the driving took place; for example amount of traffic, visibility, weather conditions, excess speed, and it is these unique factors which will be relevant in determining the severity of the case.

It is not necessary to prove that a driver knew that he was not driving very well or that he thought about the consequences of his actions.  All that needs to be proved is whether or not a competent and careful driver would have observed, appreciated and guarded against the obvious dangers this manner of driving would create.

In the case of a vehicle in such a state of disrepair as to be dangerous, consideration should be given to whether the vehicle should have been driven at all, as well as to how it was driven in the particular circumstances.

The following incidents are likely to be deemed dangerous driving;

  • Racing or competitive driving on a public road;
  • Failing to have a proper and safe regard for vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders, the elderly and pedestrians or when in the vicinity of a pedestrian crossing, hospital, school or residential home;
  • Speed, which is particularly inappropriate for the prevailing road or traffic conditions;
  • Aggressive driving, such as sudden lane changes, cutting into a line of vehicles or driving much too close to the vehicle in front;
  • Disregard of traffic lights and other road signs, which, on an objective analysis, would appear to be deliberate;
  • Driving when knowingly suffering from a medical or physical condition that significantly and dangerously impairs the offenders driving skills such as having an arm or leg in plaster, or impaired eyesight. It can include the failure to take prescribed medication;
  • Driving when knowingly deprived of adequate sleep or rest;
  • Using a hand-held mobile phone or satellite navigation where you are distracted to such a degree there is an obvious danger to other road users

Always seek legal advice if you are charged with a serious motoring offence.  It can have far reaching consequences if you are disqualified from driving.

 

Please Note: This document is for general information only. It is not legal advice and should not be acted or relied on as being so. It does not create a solicitor-client relationship between Temple Legal Solutions Ltd and any other person. Legal advice should be taken before applying any information in this document to any facts and circumstance.

If you contact Temple Legal Solutions or call 01483 514814 to make an initial enquiry, you will then referred to an appropriate, experienced law firm.