An official looking Notice has arrived in the post. You are really busy and the allegation looks to be relatively insignificant. You decide to deal with it later or even ignore it altogether! Yes, believe it or not quite a few people, for one reason or another, simply put matters such as this to the back of their minds. Before they realise it they have missed a deadline and with it the opportunity to help shape events. Don’t do this; sometimes failure to respond, or to respond in time, to such Notices can literally cost you your driving licence!
Others respond but without understanding the implications. Notices, such as Single Justice Procedure Notices, for example, can throw up many complexities. The first thing you need to work out is how to plead, ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’. This might be easy if you are accused of speeding at 110mph as you will probably know the answer. It may not be so easy if you are accused of driving without due care and attention or dangerous driving. What if you accused of driving without insurance but your employer misled you, for example? Understanding the law in such situations, applying it to the facts of the case and working out where your interests lie is complex. Yet, believe it or not, many people complete such Notices and decide how to plead without taking account of many relevant considerations.
‘Oh well’, some say, in my case I am pleading, ‘Guilty’, and so all I need to do is admit the offence and write out some mitigation on the Notice and send it back. Again, if you have been accused of speeding at 40 in a 30mph limit this might be true. And, indeed, this would apply to some. However, many people misunderstand the penalty points disqualification rules (to their cost). For example, if you admit to an offence which just happens to bring you to a total of 12 relevant penalty points you will automatically be in line for a penalty points disqualification of 6 months and the next thing you will receive is a Notice requiring you to attend court for consideration of a minimum 6 month disqualification!
Advice. Some are happy to ask their reliable family and friends. Others turn to sources online as whatever situation you are in there is a mountain of material which appears to tell you how to respond including notice boards where there is always someone confidently giving free advice. However, the articles giving ‘advice’ online are general in nature (in that they are not written with your case in mind), are sometimes incomplete and can even be misleading (however authoritative they may seem). In any event, motoring offence law and the rules of court procedure are complex. What hope do you really have of working out the best way forward without expert help based on the facts of your personal case? It is true that some do manage to do so but many don’t (and go on to suffer as a consequence). So, consider obtaining expert guidance if you are unsure of your next step.
The day has arrived for your court appearance (whether you realised, when a Notice first arrived in the post that this is where it would end up, or not). You have decided to brave it out and represent yourself. Your case is called into court, your heart beats faster and there you are in open court…
Some go through this procedure and, one way or another, obtain the result they were hoping for. Many aren’t so lucky. If your case ends up with a court appearance there is a very real chance, if matters don’t go your way on the day, that you will be at real risk of losing your driving licence. What would loss of licence mean to you? Would it mean loss of job or even of your home? If you obtain expert advice and then decide to go it alone that is one thing. But, going it alone from the outset based on well-meaning tips from friends and family or from online notice boards can turn out to be very costly in the end.
There are situations where the way forward will be obvious to you and you will be able to confidently go ahead without legal help. There are others in which the pitfalls are not obvious and you would be well advised to obtain legal advice.
At Kent Traffic Law, if you are at risk of losing your driving licence, we will give an initial telephone review of your situation without charge or obligation. So, if you are facing a motoring offence prosecution don’t hesitate to pick up the phone to us. After all, it might end up saving your licence!