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Drink or Drug Driving – Have you been charged? If so, what should you do next?

man getting arrested by car

Introduction

If you have been charged by the police with a drink or drug driving offence you will have been bailed to attend a Magistrates’ Court. These are summary only offences; this means that they cannot be tried in the Crown Court with a judge and jury but only in a magistrates’ court. At your first court appearance you will be expected to enter a plea of either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.

What should you do next?

Many people who find that they have to attend court in such circumstances will be doing so for the first time in their lives. They don’t have criminal records and the whole process is an unwanted and distressing experience. Whatever you do you should not panic. Be careful of ‘advice’ from friends and family as although they are likely to be well meaning their ‘advice’ may be unreliable.

Instead, if you are anxious about the matter you would probably be well advised to contact a motoring offence solicitor ie a lawyer who regularly or exclusively practises in this field. But, do be careful. The internet is full of unlikely claims as to impossible success rates. Your best tactic is to employ a good dose of sound common sense when doing your research. If claims online with regard to success rates through the finding of ‘loopholes’ sound too good to be true that’s probably because they are!

When considering such claims ask yourself who decides on the criteria for what amounts to ‘success’? Who records and measures the achievements? Are the records of success compared with other solicitors who do the same type of work? Be careful you are not accepting claims to outstanding success made by the very people who are judge and jury in their own cause.

How then should you choose a lawyer?

Are you content to be advised by someone whom you will never meet ie over the phone or virtually? Are you content for the person who takes your instructions to be anything less than a qualified solicitor or barrister? If the answer to these questions is ‘no’ then you may find that a local firm of lawyers are more likely to meet your needs. But, then you should ask if they do mainly criminal work such as burglary or assault with a bit of motoring work on the side, or, whether they specialise exclusively in motoring work. Once again if you are happy to be represented by a generalist there is nothing wrong with this; but, you should make an informed decision.

On the other hand you may decide that, given the importance of the issue, you want to be represented by a lawyer whom you can meet face to face and who specialises exclusively in this field. If this is the case ensure you do your research online to see if the lawyer concerned meets the criteria you have set.

Who will appear in court to represent you?

Do bear in mind that the business model operated by firms of solicitors is generally that they want to do as many cases in as many different courts on the same day as possible. This ensures that they maximise their income. They are enabled to do this as they are able to take instructions in cases and then instruct many different advocates who will appear on the day in court for their clients. These might be employees of their own firms but often they will instruct solicitor agents or junior barristers to represent their clients. Unfortunately this may mean that it is very difficult for you to have any input over who will represent you on your day in court. If it is important to you who turns up on your day in court you may think you should consider instructing a barrister.

Why instruct a barrister?

Under new rules you are now entitled to instruct a ‘public access’ barrister yourself without having to instruct a solicitor first. (Barristers specialise in court room advocacy and are often engaged by solicitors to advise them on complex points of law). So, instead of instructing a solicitor who is going to instruct someone else such as a barrister to represent you you can now go direct to the barrister yourself. This makes sense so long as you are able to find a barrister who specialises in this type of work and who undertakes personally to represent you. How would you find such a barrister?

Conclusion

At Kent Traffic Law I specialise exclusively in motoring cases ie I don’t do any other type of case (at all). If you book a meeting and representation on a fixed date in court you will be represented by me, Sunil Rupasinha. I personally have conferences with all clients, usually face to face, before appearing to represent clients in court. You can go to the homepage on this website now and click the Trustpilot link which hosts reviews posted by previous clients (do consider the reviews of others on their sites but ask yourself whether the reviews are selectively posted or whether every client is free to post a review even if unhappy with the service). In short, if you want to be advised and represented by one, senior, specialist barrister who will provide continuity of advice and representation from start to finish then why don’t you pick up the phone. If you have been charged with drink or drug driving and have been given a date to attend court there is no charge for an initial telephone discussion during which I will willingly give you initial and provisional guidance as to your options.

Request A Telephone Review (at no cost to you)

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