First the good news: these Notices are used for non-imprisonable offences such as careless driving or speeding (rather than failing to stop after an accident or drink driving, for example). But, you still need to take great care over how you complete the Notice as your driving licence could be at risk.
Could you be Disqualified from Driving?
Yes – if you face an offence which enables a court to endorse your driving licence with penalty points it also has the power to disqualify you. For example, speeding offences can result in between 3-6 penalty points on your driving licence. However, if you are convicted of speeding at well above the limit a court may consider disqualifying you from driving (even for a first offence)! For example, some of our clients are prosecuted for speeding at 30 mph or more over the speed limit. Such clients engage us to prepare and put forward the arguments as to why they should only be disqualified for a short period or even not at all.
If your licence is endorsed with penalty points does this mean that you have avoided the risk of a ban?
No – as if you already had relevant penalty points on your licence you may be at risk of a penalty points or ‘totting’ disqualification. Any motorist who commits offences within 3 years of each other for which his licence is endorsed with a total of 12 or more penalty points faces a minimum 6 month ban. Clients often contact us concerned that they will lose their jobs if they are disqualified. It is worth bearing in mind that if you can establish that you would suffer from ‘exceptional hardship’ if you were to lose your licence the court can then choose either not to ban you or to ban you for a much shorter period. Many clients engage us to advise how best to establish this in court. You should bear in mind that loss of job alone will not necessarily amount to exceptional hardship in the eyes of a court.
Is it possible to avoid a penalty points disqualification if you cannot establish ‘exceptional hardship’?
Yes, it may be possible to argue, for example, that instead of having points endorsed for the latest offence, which would mean your total is 12 or more, that you should face a short ban instead of points (for that latest offence). This would mean that your tally does not reach 12 and that you would thereby avoid a minimum 6 month ban. Many courts refuse to consider this approach but with persuasive representation they will sometimes do so.
If you face prosecution for motoring offences and have been sent a Notice by the police do take the greatest of care when completing the form. Bear in mind that you are giving information to the PROSECUTION authorities. This means that the information can be used against you. Therefore, you should think very carefully before committing yourself in writing. There are always choices to be made as to how you should complete the form. Ultimately, there is often a large degree of discretion employed by the court when it decides how to deal with a case. Therefore, the final outcome is not necessarily set in stone; it may be possible to avoid the sentence that you believe is in the pipeline. But, if you are unsure how to complete the forms to maximise your chance of the best outcome you may need help.
If you would like the advice of a barrister who specialises in this field to shape your response to the Notice and / or to represent you in court simply request a call back or feel free to ring us now.