Specialist legal advice and representation coupled with driver education saves another driving licence

Posted by Barry Culshaw on

The case

Blake Morgan's Driver Defence team was consulted by D who was facing prosecution for a speeding offence in Oxford Magistrates' Court. The case was brought by Thames Valley Police. The appropriate plea was guilty as D had been driving along a section of road subject to a 30 mph speed limit and her vehicle had triggered a fixed speed camera with a recorded speed of 37 mph.

D had already undertaken a speed awareness course and the most recent incident was the fourth occasion that D had been caught speeding in less than a two year period. All three previous incidents had involved D speeding in 30 mph speed limits which attracted three sets of fixed penalties of 3 penalty points on each occasion. This meant that D was liable to a minimum period of disqualification from driving of 6 months under the "totting-up" procedure.

Upon D entering her guilty plea with the court a sentencing hearing was fixed at Banbury Magistrates' Court as the justices were considering imposing a totting-up disqualification. D was advised and represented throughout by Barry Culshaw, a consultant and road traffic specialist within Blake Morgan's Motoring Offences Team. Barry identified that D was typical of many motorists that he represents in such situations.

D was driving a high performance vehicle with an automatic gearbox primarily on business. D readily admitted often being distracted by the pressures of business and family life and the use of a hands free mobile telephone. D clearly had an inadequate knowledge of speed limit signing and, in particular, that restricted roads subject to a system of carriageway lighting with lighting columns not more than 200 yards apart are subject to a 30 mph speed limit where no repeater signing is required.

Barry referred D in the same way as he had with many previous clients in D's predicament to a leading driving instructor so that her offending behaviour could be addressed.

The course provider was impressed with D's positive and engaging attitude to the training session which addressed the three key problem areas – lack of concentration including hands-free mobile phone use whilst driving; misunderstanding of how the speed limit system works and a lack of knowledge of how to control her powerful vehicle with the use of gears despite the vehicle being equipped with an automatic gearbox.

The case preparation also involved Barry advising D to collate all relevant information in support of D's argument that to disqualify her from driving would cause exceptional hardship. This would enable the sentencing justices to exercise discretion not to disqualify D from driving if the justices saw fit.

D appeared before three lay justices sitting at Banbury Magistrates' Court for sentence. D in her evidence to the court addressed the benefit that she had derived from the road risk and behaviour training course. In particular, she explained how she had learnt how to control speed by using the tiptronic gear box in an appropriate gear commensurate with the speed limit involved and how she had also learnt a great deal about understanding speed limit signing and avoiding distractions including an abstention from using a hands-free mobile telephone.

Barry concluded by making submissions that the court should find exceptional hardship primarily in terms of the impact of a disqualification on D's partner and her very young daughter. Barry also emphasised that undertaking the road risk and behaviour training course irrespective of exceptional hardship would enable the justices to exercise discretion not to disqualify D.

The justices imposed sentence in the following terms. A fine of £230 was imposed. D was ordered to make a contribution to prosecution costs of £85 and to pay the victim surcharge of £30. The justices endorsed D's driving licence with three penalty points which resulted in her totting up to 12 penalty points. The justices took a dim view of a motorist who was caught speeding four times in two years.

On the other hand the justices noted that D had  taken a lot of steps to remedy the situation and it was to her credit and the court gave her credit for undertaking the road risk and behaviour training course. If D was to be disqualified from driving the court was satisfied that this would have "quite heavy" consequences on her partner, her daughter and her employer.

Accordingly, the court decided not to disqualify D from driving, but D was reminded by the court that she would now be left with 12 penalty points on her driving licence and should she end up being prosecuted again within the relevant three year period she will not be able to advance any of these reasons again in seeking to persuade the court not to disqualify her from driving under the totting up provisions.

This case demonstrates how important it is for motorists to seek specialist advice and representation when facing disqualification under the totting-up provisions. However, this only addresses trying to make the best of a dreadful predicament. The motorist has to be committed to avoiding a situation like this ever happening again. As the course provider stated in D's case she only has herself to blame now if she is caught speeding again.

About the Author

Barry Specialises in road transport law within our Driver Defence team. He represents clients facing allegations of careless/dangerous driving, driving with excess alcohol and speeding.

Barry Culshaw
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023 8085 7209

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