Road Traffic Offences and How to Defend Them
Solicitors who deal with general criminal law often aren’t fully familiar with the ideal legal arguments that can be used successfully to protect your licence if you have been accused of any of the motoring offences below;
Your reasons for driving without valid insurance are not relevant when you are stopped. If you don’t have motor insurance cover in place, you are deemed to be guilty.
When found guilty, or if you plead guilty to driving with no insurance then you will get six to eight points.
Many people find that their insurance policy was cancelled without them knowing.
If you genuinely and honestly believed that you were properly insured and can show that to the court then you can use a special reasons argument. Constructing a special reasons argument that has validity can be difficult, so if in doubt about the best way to proceed, consult with a specialist motoring solicitor who will be able to give you accurate advice.
Speeding Road Traffic Offences
As well as three to six penalty points, the penalty for speed related offences can include a driving ban, a fine and incurred court costs.
Professional evidence is required if you are going to successfully defend your speeding offence in court.
Drinking and Driving
The limit in the UK for drinking and driving is 35mg in breath. A driving licence disqualification of 12 months is the minimum penalty for a drink driving conviction.
To successfully defend a drinking and driving allegation, you need to be able to prove that you were not the driver, or that you were not in a public place or on a public road, or that you consumed the alcohol only once you had finished driving, not before.
The 3 other possible defences for drink driving are that you drove only a short distance, that it was an emergency or that you were unaware that you had taken alcohol before driving.
Failing to name the driver
An S172 request will be sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle if you commit a road traffic offence.
Failure to provide the required information will get you 6 penalty points.
However, S172(4) and Section172(7)(b) RTA 1988 provide statutory defences.
To determine the drivers’ identity at the time of offence, you will have to demonstrate to the Magistrate that you used reasonable diligence, or that you didn’t receive the section 172 information request at all.
Drunk in charge of a vehicle
In court, it is necessary for the prosecution to demonstrate that you were over the drink drive legal limit, and that you were also in charge of the motor vehicle too.
You have a viable defence if you can prove to the court you were not intending to drive until you were under the drink driving limit.
The penalty for drunk in charge of a vehicle is either ten penalty points on your licence or a discretionary driving licence ban.
Drugs & Driving
Police use a roadside drug driving testing device to check motorists for drug use.
There is some confusion by magistrates in court about how to prosecute drug driving offences, and many, quite wrongly use drink driving guidelines for drug offences.
This is still being tested in law, as a drug user, may register ten times over the limit, days after drug use, but would be more that competent to drive safely. Receiving a driving ban equivalent to a drink driver ten times over the limit is grossly unfair.
While you are driving, you have to be holding and using a mobile (for communication) in order to be guilty of an offence. The opinion of Magistrates varies widely for this offence.
Stopping in a traffic jam, roadwork’s or at traffic signals is still classed as driving, and it is still an offence to use a mobile.
Texting is considered as serious if not more so than talking on the phone while driving as it forces your eyes off the road.
Making calls and sending texts whilst driving are often defendable in court (ask pattersonlaw.co.uk how) because police often fail to check for evidence of phone use at the time of the offence.
If you can prove to the court that your phone wasn’t being used (using your itemised phone statement for example) then you have a defence agains the allegation.
Without Due Care Offences
To be convicted of driving without due care and attention, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the level of your driving was not that of a competent and careful driver.
Road traffic offences covered by without due care include things such as low speed car park bumps and dings, as well as undertaking on a motorway.
For this offence, the police have the discretion to offer you a Driving Improvement Course as an alternative to court.
Failing to Stop Offences
In accordance with S 170 Road Traffic Act, you are required to stop and exchange details after an accident if a vehicle, person or property was damaged.
In circumstances where you weren’t able to provide your details at the time, you are required to report the accident at a police station as soon as is practicable and at most at least, within twenty four hours.
If you go to court and are found guilty of failing to report or failing to stop then you face 5 – 10 points on your driving licence or a discretionary driving ban.
If you can convince the Court that you weren’t aware you had been involved in an accident and caused damage and that it in not unreasonable for that to be the case then you have a defence.
These motoring offences are otherwise known as hit and run and are considered serious by the Court.
Dangerous Driving Road Traffic Offences
Dangerous driving requires the standard of your driving to fall far below what is deemed to be standard. In addition, it must be clear to a competent and careful driver that the driving is dangerous.
A conviction for dangerous driving carries a minimum 12 month driving ban, a complete driving licence re-test and a custodial sentence.
Driving without a Valid Licence
The offence of driving without a valid licence often causes confusion.
If you are stopped while driving not in accordance with the conditions relevant to your driving licence, for example not having passed a driving test or not having L plates, then it is an endorseable driving offence.
Should you fail to return your licence to the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency when asked to do so, and they then suspend your entitlement to drive, the offence is non-endorseable.
It’s a misnomer that in the case of ‘no licence’ offences, your insurance will automatically be invalid. This is not the case.
No licence road traffic offences can be confusing, for everyone involved, in addition, many Magistrates Courts are not clear if this driving offence carries driving licence penalty points or not. Make sure you get the best possible outcome for your Court case with expert advice and guidance from one of these leading motoring lawyers… who will guide you to the specialist solicitor for your offence or needs.