The first question we hear from clients who have been accused of a motoring offence such as speeding or drink driving is ‘will I lose my licence?’ Every case we deal with is different, so there is rarely a short or straightforward answer to that question. However, the experienced motoring solicitors at Purcell Parker have a proven track record in securing the best possible outcome for our clients who have been accused of motoring offences, including where appropriate, avoiding a driving ban.
Even if you think a driving ban is inevitable, it’s important to get an experienced and empathetic solicitor on your side, as even in situations where a driving ban is imposed, it may be possible to argue for a reduction in the length of the disqualification.
The consequences of a driving ban
Our solicitors understand that losing your driving licence can have serious consequences ranging from increased insurance premiums to the loss of your job if you rely on your licence for work. As a result, in instances where a driving ban is a possible consequence of the motoring offence you have been accused of, we will work with you to find out whether the circumstances of your case mean that a driving ban should not be applied.
When and how are driving bans imposed?
In addition to motoring offences such as the most serious speeding cases, drink driving, careless driving and dangerous driving, driving bans can be imposed on people who have run up more than 12 or more penalty points over a three year period.
All but the most serious motoring offences are heard at the Magistrates’ Court where magistrates can impose driving disqualifications of up to two years based on the seriousness of the offence in question.
If a ban is for less than 56 days, you do not need to reapply for your licence before you drive again. For bans over 56 days, you will have to apply for a new driving licence before you can resume driving. In some circumstances the court will also decide that you will need to retake your driving test before you are allowed to drive again.
It’s possible for driving bans to be avoided in the following scenarios:
You did not commit the offence
Due to roadside breathalyser tests for drink driving and speed cameras to detect those who are driving too fast, the evidence is often clear when these kinds of offences have been committed. However, these cases are not always cut and dried. For example, most speed cameras only capture a car’s number plate; so it may be possible to prove that the registered owner of a vehicle was not behind the wheel when the alleged offence took place.
Avoiding a driving ban in drink driving charges
If you have been charged with drink driving, Purcell Parker’s motoring solicitors can build a defence case when the following circumstances apply:
- You were not driving, for example if you were asleep in your car and it can be proven that you were not intending to drive.
- You were driving in extreme circumstances such as a medical emergency where the consequences would have been life-threatening if you hadn’t.
- You were driving on private property
- You can prove the ‘hip flask’ defence – you drank alcohol before being breathalysed but after an accident happened.
- It can be shown that the police made a procedural error when taking your breath, urine or blood sample.
- It can be proven that the detection equipment used to take your sample was faulty.
Special reasons defence
Special reasons defences usually relate to drink driving charges but they can also be used in relation to other motoring offences. Circumstances in which magistrates may accept a special reasons defence include driving under duress when you would have been in danger if you hadn’t agreed to do so, driving after unknowingly drinking a spiked drink or driving an extremely short distance. The crucial factor for special reasons is that they relate to the specific events and can be proven to be a reasonable action in the circumstances. For example, drinking a spiked drink is only a valid defence if it can be proven you would have been under the legal drink drive limit had you not drunk the drink in question.
Drivers who accumulate 12 or more points on their licence over a 3-year period automatically face an appearance in Magistrates’ Court where a mandatory driving ban for a minimum period of 6 months will be handed to them. This is sometimes referred to as a ‘totting up’ ban. However, in this situation it may be possible to avoid a driving ban if it can be proven that the loss of your licence would cause real hardship to you or someone who relies on you to drive. Exceptional hardship can include:
- Loss of job or income
- Loss of home through inability to keep up with mortgage repayments
- A disability
- Impact on someone who relies on you as their carer to drive them or to provide transport for them
Recently Magistrates have become stricter when it comes to meeting the criteria for exceptional hardship. This means that in order to overcome the scepticism many Magistrates feel towards exceptional hardship cases, it’s important to thoroughly prepare for your court appearance. The motoring solicitors at Purcell Parker have many years of experience when it comes to successfully defending exceptional hardship cases by making sure the necessary supporting documentation and evidence from relevant parties is prepared in advance to support your case.
Paying for your motoring offence legal representation
Most motoring offences are not eligible for legal aid. At Purcell Parker we provide competitive rates for motoring matters as follows:
Plea and sentence hearing – £595 plus VAT
Additional hearings (e.g. sentence) – £395 plus VAT
Half day trial – £1,500 plus VAT
Full day trial – £2,000 plus VAT
Expert legal advice when you are facing a driving ban
If you have been accused of a driving offence and are worried that you may lose your licence, it’s important to arrange legal defence as soon as possible. For free, friendly initial advice, call Purcell Parker on 0121 236 9781 or fill in our contact form.