You have been accused of drink driving. What should you do next?
How should you plead, Guilty or Not Guilty?
If you are not sure of how to plead you should obtain expert legal advice from a specialist motoring offence lawyer. Many claim to specialise in motoring offences, in the same way a GP might claim to specialise in treating ‘flu, but far fewer specialise exclusively in this field. Finding honest and expert advice at the outset could be the most important (and cost effective) of all the steps you take. Therefore, your first task should be how to identify the criteria for selection of your lawyer.
Of course, there is no avoiding the fact that a conviction for drink driving is a serious matter; it means you will have a criminal record and sentences vary from prison or community service to a fine, all of which, of course, are accompanied by a mandatory disqualification from driving for at least 12 months. However, the severity of the sentencing and length of the disqualification can vary markedly depending on how the sentencing court views the case. It is important that everyone being investigated for this offence should understand that cooperation with the police in terms of making admissions in interview, for example, and a Guilty plea are considered to be important factors in terms of mitigation ie the court will accord credit in such cases to the Defendant by being more lenient in the sentencing than they otherwise would have done. At Kent Traffic Law we come across many cases in which suspects have refused to make any comment at all in interview based upon the advice of the duty solicitor. However, the clients often tell us that they had intended to admit the offence all along. In such cases, why not gain the credit for being cooperative in interview (as this would have been a factor in the Defendant’s favour at the sentencing stage)?
Whatever you do, don’t panic. No matter how desperate matters appear to be there will be a way to make the most of your situation. Although a way can be found to fight even the strongest of prosecution cases it does not always serve the interests of the Defendant to do so. The vast majority of motorists accused of this offence end up either pleading ‘guilty’ or being found ‘guilty’ in the end. All suspects should be advised at the outset of the pros and cons of contesting a case. However, for those who intend to admit the offence they stand to gain by being accorded ‘credit for the plea’ by the court (by pleading ‘guilty’ at the first opportunity). If they then appoint a lawyer who is expert in the art of advocacy they will also gain the benefit of having their mitigation prepared and presented as persuasively as possible. This usually results in markedly more lenient sentencing which can, whether it means avoiding a prison sentence or avoiding a very long driving ban, for example, mean that you have made the best of a difficult situation. When the dust settles you might be very grateful you chose such an approach.
If you need advice or representation don’t hesitate to get in touch.