Is your car insured properly? Our Partner Michael Pace gives his expert analysis below. ...
Offences & Guidance
A conviction for a speeding offence will usually carry penalty points and a fine. A disqualification can be ordered at the discretion of the magistrates instead of penalty points. Speeding offences where the allegation is one of high speed, usually carry a disqualification penalty.
The starting point within the Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines is 56 days. If a disqualification is avoided then 6 penalty points are the norm. You will also be fined and ordered to pay prosecution costs. The length of the disqualification will depend on the factors surrounding the offence and any mitigating circumstances. If you receive a summons for speeding, then it is important that we check the summons to see that the correct allegation has been made. A summons must be issued within 6 months of the date of the offence. This is referred to as ‘Laying an Information’. If the information has been laid after the 6 month date then the court will not normally allow the charge to be proceeded with. If you are pleading guilty the matter will usually be dealt with on the first occasion it comes before the court. Adjournments for reasons of not being available are usually allowed on the first occasion. If you enter a guilty plea on the first occasion you appear before the court, the fine will be reduced by as much as a third.
Some years ago this was an imprisonable offence. Whilst it is still treated as a serious offence, nowadays it is penalised by way of a fine and penalty points. Magistrates always have the power to disqualify you from driving as well. This would not be normal on the first occasion. If you are an employed driver using a company vehicle which is uninsured and you did not know, then there is a defence in those circumstances. The penalty points range is 6 – 8. The circumstance of how you came to be uninsured will affect the number of penalty points.
Death by Dangerous Driving
This is a very serious offence to have to face. It will be dealt with in the crown Court. You may be eligible for ‘Legal Aid’. In sentencing you the court will consider a custodial sentence. An extended retest will also be ordered before you are allowed to drive again. The minimum disqualification period is 12 months.
This is where your 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’. This offence whist serious can be dealt with in the Magistrates Court system, unless you elect for a jury trial. The matter would then be heard in the crown court. There is a risk of a prison sentence. There is a mandatory disqualification period of 12 months and you will be order to take an extended retest. If you are not imprisoned you will be fined. The prosecution will produce evidence which can be tested in a trial. You will need the help of an experienced advocate to do this.
This is where your driving ‘falls below the standard of a reasonable, competent and careful driver’. It is often brought following a motor accident, but can include ‘inconsiderate driving’ as well. The court will endorse your licence with between 3 and 9 points. You may be disqualified and will be fined and ordered to pay costs. The court has a discretion to disqualify you instead of awarding penalty points.
Failing to stop after an accident
If you are involved in a motor accident and fail to stop at the scene in order to give your details to any person reasonably requesting them and fail to report the accident ‘as soon as is reasonably practicable’ or at the latest within 24 hours you commit an offence. At least 5 penalty points will follow.
Construction and Use offences
Here there is a range of offences which can be in respect of, the condition of your vehicle or, the load you are carrying or the failure of some of the vehicles equipment, e.g. lights not working, defective tyres or dangerous parts. Other offences charged under this set of regulations include overloading offences and dangerous and insecure loads. Depending on the actual offence the court can award penalty points and will order a fine and costs.
Drink driving and drug driving offences
The offences include; refusing to give a sample, failing to provide a sample, being over the prescribed limit whilst driving, and drunk in charge of a motor vehicle. This range of offences requires the police to follow a set procedure at the road side when making the request and also to follow instructions according to the type of machine used at the police station. The officer using the machine must be properly trained. A failure to follow all instructions can render their evidence unsafe and lead to an acquittal. You need to be aware that the police can demand you give a sample even though you wish to wait and receive telephone advice from a solicitor first. It is always better to give the sample requested and then seek legal advice. You should contact an experienced solicitor as soon as you can and provide him with all the paperwork given to you by the police. This will allow him to check it thoroughly. If you are charged with an offence the penalty will include a minimum 12 month disqualification from driving. If the level of alcohol or drugs recorded is very high then the court will consider a custodial sentence and a longer period of disqualification. The court may also make an order that you cannot get your licence back unless you have attended a course to deal with alcoholism and /or you have taken a driving a retest. If you are convicted for a similar drug use offence within 10 years, the period of disqualification is automatically a minimum of 3 years. The court can allow for a period of disqualification to be reduced by a certain percentage on attendance and successful completion of a Rehabilitation Course run by the police. This will not apply to a 12 month disqualification period. If you have been charged with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle (not driving it), the court will always consider a period of disqualification.
To speak to one of our Road Traffic law specialists, please contact us on 01522 512123 (Lincoln) or 01636 673743 (Newark). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.