How are motoring offence penalties decided?
Changes to the sentencing guidelines for many motoring offences were implemented in April 2017. These changes give the court a clear structure when dealing with many offences and magistrates are directed in many cases to consider the level to which the accused should be held culpable or responsible for what happened as well as taking into account not only if any harm was actually caused by the offence, but also if any harm was intended to be caused or might foreseeably have been caused by the offence. These issues are considered in different ways for different offences but it is important that the court are given the most effective information possible to ensure that a balanced penalty is imposed and not one that is overly harsh. The court have a discretion to exercise leniency where they feel it appropriate and where the guidelines allow.
How we can help
To get the best result the process has to be considered fully. In order to ensure an effective court process it is important that the court are made aware of all relevant factors about the offence as well as the offender. Issues that might otherwise aggravate the penalty need to be addressed as carefully as possible. It is important not to see the court as the opposition and to be fully aware of the sentencing guidelines by making appropriate recommendations to the court based on the strength of the mitigation and carefully prepared supporting materials.
Our experience means that as well as preparing your case to be presented we can prepare you for the process itself. Specific guidance regarding preparation for the hearing and what to expect at the hearing itself is part of the service provided together with representation on the day to take the strain off the process and strive for the best possible result. By the time of your court hearing you will go in there knowing all of the potential outcomes and knowing that your case has been thoroughly prepared.
Depending on the type of case you have it may be that you are still required to provide evidence at court but for the most part we can take that strain away by keeping your involvement to simply confirming your identity and your plea - its then over to your representative to deal with the rest.
We can provide a tailored service handled by experienced specialists and can do so for a fixed fee for added reassurance without compromising on effective representation. For a confidential discussion with a member of our team, please contact us on 01616 966 229 or complete our online enquiry form.
How we've helped
Our client was charged with driving with excess alcohol and accepted that he was guilty of the offence. He has driven the vehicle and had been stopped by the police and subsequently provided a reading of 91mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Our client’s circumstances on this occasion were such that we were able to advance an argument of ‘special reasons’ to not impose the usual penalty. After two hearings and evidence presented by the defence, the court were satisfied that, in the context of the wider background, the short journey of a few yards from one part of a car park to another to avoid an altercation and/or risk of damage to our client’s vehicle was enough to allow them to find that there were ‘special reasons’ for not disqualifying our client from driving. A disqualification in this case would have meant that our client lost his job and ultimately his career.
Revocation and re-test avoided
Our client was charged with driving without insurance. The court were convinced that our client was misled into believing that she was insured to drive the car of a friend who she was assisting on an ad hoc basis and working for in an informal capacity as a carer. The court accepted that, based on the evidence before the court, it was reasonable for our client to have believed that she was insured based on the misrepresentation made to her by the owner of the vehicle. In the circumstances the court found that there were special reasons for not imposing 6 penalty points. 6 penalty points in this case would have meant that our client would have had to re-sit her driving test again given that it had been less than 2 years since she had passed her test. This was avoided and our client did not suffer from any hardship.
Totting up ban avoided
Our client approached us after being represented in the magistrates’ court by another firm of solicitors. Our client was not impressed by the representation she had received in the magistrates’ court and was in a position where she had been disqualified for 6 months under the totting up provisions. We were able to appeal the sentence to the crown court on the basis that our client would suffer an exceptional hardship in respect of her university education, her part time and employment and her role as daily carer for her elderly father; all of which relied on her eligibility to drive. The court accepted our upgraded argument and our client’s disqualification was quashed.
Revovation and re-test avoided
Our client was extremely distressed to find that he had been convicted in his absence of an offence of failing to furnish driver details. Our client had been driving for less than 2 years and the 6 penalty points imposed in his absence meant that his licence was automatically revoked by the DVLA. With our assistance at 2 court appearances our client made a statutory declaration to the effect that the matter had been dealt with in his absence and without his knowledge. The court accepted that an accepted an application to set aside the conviction and reopen the case. It transpired that our client was at fault and was the cause of what he had not been aware of the hearing and a guilty plea had to be entered. The court were addressed by our representative who successfully convinced the court to impose a short term ban of 7 days in lieu of 6 penalty points. This meant that our client did not have to go through the process of taking his driving theory and practical tests again and was able to keep his new job that relied on him travelling all over the country with the use of his car.
Ban reduced and community order avoided
Our client was charged with drink driving and produced a reading that meant he was at risk of a ban of up to 28 months alongside a community order. Thorough preparation and presentation at court of strong mitigation relating to the impact of a lengthy ban and a community order on both our client and his family (in this case his daughter) meant that the court used their discretion not to impose a community order and instead to impose the lowest possible ban that the guidelines would allow alongside a fine.
Prison sentence avoided
Our client was charged with her second drink driving allegation within a 3 years and on this occasion had provided a breath reading of 121µg of alcohol per 100ml of breath which in itself is capable of attracting a prison sentence. Our client was also liable for a mandatory ban of a minimum of 3 years and ranging up to 5 years. After identifying the main issues in relation to the offence itself and in our client’s background that needed to be addressed we set about advising our client what to do next in preparation for any court hearing. A guilty plea and demonstrating remorse would not be enough. It was important that our client knew what was needed to be done to ensure that it could be demonstrated to the court that a proactive approach had been taken towards ensuring the severity of the situation and the need to address any underlying problems that led to the situation arising had been fully acknowledged and, in part, rectified. This alongside strong mitigation in relation to the impact any custodial sentence would have on our client’s family meant that the court were persuaded to suspend any prison sentence and to impose a community based rehabilitation order that was aimed at addressing our client’s underlying issues with alcohol dependency. The court also imposed the lowest possible ban that the guidelines would allow.
Ban reduced and community order avoided
Our client faced a conviction of up to 22 months and a community order. Representation by our specialist lawyer, Paul Loughlin, who set about advancing a background as to why our client had found herself in this uncharacteristic position, helped to convince the court not to consider imposing a community order and to impose the lowest possible ban that the guidelines would allow.