Unusual motoring defence
Our client passed his driving test in October 2012 and was on a two year probationary period. Any motorist who receives six or more penalty points over the probationary period is liable to have his licence revoked by the DVLA under the probationary driver revocation provisions.
During the two year probationary period, our client committed an offence of speeding at 57 mph in a 30 mph zone in August 2014. Due to the level of speed recorded, the offence could not be dealt with by way of a speed awareness course or acceptance of a fixed penalty.
Hampshire Constabulary brought a prosecution alleging the count of speeding which was returnable before Aldershot Magistrates' Court in March 2015.
However, in the meantime, the client committed a further speeding offence in December 2014 for which he accepted a fixed penalty including endorsement of his driving with three penalty points.
As a result, this case involved the somewhat unusual scenario where the more serious speeding offence happened during the probationary period but a subsequent speeding offence was committed after the two year probationary period had expired.
The point that arose for consideration was whether or not in the event that the Aldershot Magistrates' Court endorsed the client's driving licence with penalty points, those points would have to be combined with the three penalty points relating to the December 2014 speeding incident. If so, this would inevitably trigger the revocation provisions.
There is established case law that penalty points imposed prior to passing the driving test and, therefore, endorsed prior to the probationary period have to be aggregated with any penalty points endorsed during the probationary period. The client consulted Barry Culshaw of Blake Morgan's motoring offences team.
Although there would not appear to be any definitive case law on the point, Barry took the view that any penalty points endorsed after the expiration of the probationary period would still have to be aggregated with any penalty points to be endorsed subsequently for an offence committed within the probationary period provided the two offences were not more than three years apart.
Barry was instructed to represent the client at the sentencing hearing. Barry had the opportunity of discussing the somewhat unusual sentencing situation with the court legal adviser who was in total agreement with Barry's interpretation of the legislation. The client's employer had provided a helpful reference for the assistance of the court which made it clear that a seven to 14 day period of disqualification could be accommodated but any longer period of disqualification would trigger the need to terminate the client's employment. This also meant that if the client's driving licence was revoked under the probationary driver provisions, his employment would also have to be terminated as he would then revert to a provisional licence holder and would only reacquire a full car driving licence when he passes his driving test again. The Justices agreed to Barry's submission that the appropriate sentence in all the circumstances was a short period of disqualification. The Justices decided to impose a 14 day period of disqualification which did not trigger the probationary driver revocation provisions and also meant that the client could keep his job.
The situation that arose in this case was one of those unusual situations where a defence advocate had to address the court urging the court to impose a short period of disqualification rather than endorsement of the driving licence with penalty points. Needless to say the client was most relieved and grateful in respect of the outcome.