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Archive for the ‘Points’ tag

Speeding Notices – Don’t be Tempted To Ignore Them

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Paul Trincas - Motoring Law Expert

Paul Trincas

Paul Trincas, a motoring specialist with law firm, Charles Lucas & Marshall, explains the repercussions of failing to identify the driver when a speeding notice is issued.

Picture the scenario- you are the registered owner of a vehicle which a number of people in your family are authorised to drive – a not unfamiliar situation.

You then receive, out of the blue, a notice from the police indicating that the vehicle in question has been caught by a speed camera, exceeding the speed limit. The notice requests that you identify the driver.

What do you do?

 

  1. You were the driver – but decide to ignore it.

If you were the driver at the time, you consider that by ignoring the notice, the police cannot prosecute you for speeding, as they can only prosecute if they know the identity of the driver.

While it is correct the police can only prosecute for speeding if they can identify the driver, nevertheless, you are still required by law to respond to the notice within 28 days to identify the driver concerned.

If you simply ignore the notice, this will constitute a completely separate offence of ‘failing to identify the driver.’ This will result in you either receiving a conditional offer of a fixed penalty for failing to supply the information, or alternatively being summonsed to court.

What most drivers don’t realise is that the penalty for failing to identify the driver can be worse than if you had admitted being the driver in the first place. Most speeding offences, which do not involve high speeds, will normally only attract three penalty points on your licence plus a fine. However, a failure to identify the driver will attract a fixed six penalty points – double the points you would normally expect, plus a fine.

  1. You were the driver – but have agreed that someone else will take your points.

Tempting though this may be, under no circumstances should you even contemplate this.

You may already have a number of points on your licence and therefore agree with someone else, who may not have any points on their licence, that they be identified as the driver in order to take your points.

If it is subsequently discovered that you were in fact the driver, then this will undoubtedly result in you being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice, which is a serious criminal offence which can only be dealt with at the Crown Court and will almost inevitably result in a prison term.

Do not go there!

3. You genuinely do not know who the driver is.

In this instance, simply writing back to the police stating either that you do not know who was driving, or stating, for example, that it may have been either you or your wife -you cannot be sure- will not get you off the hook. As you have still failed to identify the driver, you will be liable for prosecution. Even though at the time you do not know who the driver is, because a number of people may have access to driving the vehicle, there is still a strict legal requirement for you to identify the driver. This means that the onus will be on you to make all reasonable and practical enquiries to ascertain the identity of the driver.

If you still cannot identify the driver, then you should still notify the police that this is the case.

In this scenario, you can plead the defence of ‘due diligence’, and if the court accepts that despite you making such enquiries, it was still impossible for you to identify the driver, then you will be acquitted of the offence.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

October 29th, 2015 at 4:32 pm

Posted in Fines,News,Points,Speeding

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DRIVERS BE AWARE-ABOLITION OF THE PAPER-COUNTERPART DRIVING LICENCE IS IN FORCE

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Many, and probably most drivers, will be unaware of the fact that as of 8 June, the DVLA is no longer issuing the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence. Paul Trincas, a motoring law specialist with Charles Lucas & Marshall explains why.

Paul Trincas - Motoring Law Expert

Paul Trincas

So how, I hear you say, can a driver access, or check, their driving record containing endorsements or disqualifications ?

Simple, the DVLA say. You can view your driving record on-line, via the ‘View Driving Licence’ service which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The system is free and will involve logging in by providing your driving licence number/personal details, post code and national insurance number.

For those who do not have access to the internet, drivers will also be able to check their driving record by phone or by writing to DVLA.

Third parties, such as employers, car-hire companies and others who presently check paper counterparts, will also be able to access this information on-line, but only with the consent of the driver under the new ‘Share Driving Licence’ service, which is still in development.

This service will allow those who have a ‘business need’ to do so, to check a driving record, free of charge, 24/7, and will be based upon access codes being shared.

The driving licence holder will be in control throughout and can choose who they wish to share such information with.

Alternatively, third parties can request record information by phone, by using the DVLA’s Premium Line, charged at the premium rate, currently, 51per minute, but only with the consent of the driving licence holder.

As of now, the existing paper counterpart licence has no legal status.

This is all part of the Government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ to remove unnecessary burdens on drivers.

Drivers are not required to do anything and all they are required to possess, after 8 June 2015, is their photocard driving licence.

The existing driving licence, whether photocard or paper, will be the only official document that will show what vehicles a driver may be entitled to drive.

From now on, instead of penalty points and disqualifications being recorded on the existing paper counterpart driving licence, such endorsements and disqualifications will only be recorded by the DVLA.

When a driver needs to either update their details eg- name, address etc or renew their driving licence, drivers will be issued with only one document- the photocard licence.

Finally, those drivers who were issued with paper driving licences only, before the photocard was introduced in 1998, should hold on to them and NOT destroy them, as, for these drivers, the paper driving licence is (for the time being at least) not being abolished.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

June 18th, 2015 at 10:58 am

Why Do People Treat Motoring Offences So Flippantly ?

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Having specialised in motoring and road traffic offences for 35 years, I am still bewildered as to why so many people treat motoring offences as if they are of little consequence and will have little impact on their lives.

Paul Trincas - Motoring Law Expert

Paul Trincas

The initial relaxed and laid back attitude of many clients when they come through the door soon turns to despair and fear once the implications of what they have done is explained to them.

The days when courts used to treat motoring offences as secondary to mainstream crime are long gone. Courts have become hardened to the offending motorist and penalties imposed nowadays are far reaching and can have a significant impact on the motorist’s continued employment and livelihood.

Below are a couple of examples I am faced with on an almost daily basis:

Example 1

A client has been summonsed for speeding on the motorway, driving at 110mph. He expects to receive a limited fine and three penalty points on his licence. I have to advise him that for such a high speed, the courts will be looking at not only a hefty fine, but more importantly, a discretionary period of disqualification of between 4-6 weeks.
Example 2

A client has been summonsed for speaking on a mobile phone whilst driving, not expecting it is any great crime. His licence shows he already has nine penalty points on his licence. He expects to get only three penalty points and a small fine.

I have to advise him that although mobile phone offences carry a fixed three penalty points, the fact that he already has nine penalty points means he will become what is known as a ‘totter’ – a motorist who has totted up 12 or more points in any three year period. For any driver who accumulates twelve or more points in this period, the court must, by law, disqualify him for a minimum period of six months. ie, it will affect not only him, but his family – and he faces the prospect of losing his job if his employment depends on driving.

While it is open to the driver to argue that such a period of disqualification will cause him and his family ‘exceptional hardship’, the threshold for persuading the court not to disqualify is quite a high one. Courts, who time and time again have heard all the arguments going in attempts to avoid such disqualification, are wise to the arguments and hardened to them.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

October 7th, 2014 at 11:13 am

Motorists Beware  – New Increased Fines In Force Soon

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Under Government proposals, motorists who break the law will soon face significantly increased levels of fines. Paul Trincas,  a motoring law specialist with Charles Lucas & Marshall, explains the new legislation.

The proposals will be brought into force under the provisions of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and herald the first significant increase in levels of fines to be imposed in magistrates courts since 1991.

What this means, is that the unwary motorist who falls foul of the motoring laws, will face a significant increase in fines, compared to the present position.

For most of the common types of motoring offences that magistrates’ courts deal with on a daily basis, the maximum fines will be increased by a staggering 400%. Even worse, where the existing maximum fine in the magistrates’ court is £5,000 or more, the courts will have the power to impose ‘unlimited’ fines.

The most common types of motoring offences regularly and routinely dealt with by magistrates’ courts, such as speeding, drink-driving, driving without insurance, bald tyres, driving without due care and attention, will all be subject to this hike in the maximum fines.

To demonstrate the significance, the comparison table below illustrates the current and future position:

Offence                                  Current Max fine                  Proposed new Max fine

Speeding                                                 £1,000                                     £4,000

Careless Driving                                   £5,000                                     £Unlimited fine

Driving above alcohol limit            £5,000                                     £Unlimited fine

No Insurance                                       £5,000                                     £Unlimited fine

Defective Brakes                                   £2,500                                     £10,000

Using mobile phone whilst driving        £1,000                                     £4,000

Failing to wear seat belt                         £500                                        £2,000

While on the one hand, this is seen as a clear and serious attempt by the Government to clamp down on flouting motorists, there are some commentators who have suggested that motorists are ‘soft’ targets and the changes are a simple and easy method of increasing revenue.

A potential spin-off which has been raised by many commentators is that, motorists faced with court prosecution, even if they feel they are not guilty, may very well be tempted to minimise their risk and exposure to a higher level of fine, by pleading guilty and receiving a lower fine – rather than risk being faced with a much higher fine if they are subsequently convicted after a trial.

A further cause of concern is that such hikes in the levels of fines may well see motorists, who are issued with fixed penalty notices which they can challenge in court, being deterred from going to court to challenge such notices where they don’t believe they are guilty of an offence.

There is no doubt that these proposals are controversial and views will differ according to which side of the fence you sit on.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

July 25th, 2014 at 10:31 am

Posted in Fines,Points,Speeding

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Careless Drivers – Beware

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Careless drivers across Britain can now be punished with ‘on-the spot’ police fines and endorsements. Paul Trincas, a motoring law specialist with solicitors, Charles Lucas & Marshall explains what it will mean.

The new procedures will enable the police to tackle the three top ‘pet hates’ of drivers: tailgaters, middle lane hoggers and mobile phone abusers. The main examples of careless or inconsiderate behaviour driving the new measures are:-

  • Tailgating Driving too close to a vehicle in front
  • Lane-hogging–  such as cruising and hogging the middle or outside lanes
  • Overtaking and pushing into a queue of traffic
  • Failing to give way at a junction
  • Overtaking on the inside
  • Running a red traffic light
  • Using mobile phone whilst driving

Anyone now guilty of lesser offences of careless driving will have to decide whether they want to accept the ‘on the spot’ fixed penalty of £100 and three penalty points on their licence.

Alternatively, in such a situation, drivers may be offered the chance to attend a driving course instead, and thereby avoid the fixed fine and penalty points.

Drivers, if they dispute the matter, will always retain the option of appealing through the courts. However, if they do so, and lose, then they risk higher penalty points being endorsed on their licence as well as a higher fine and court costs.

However, the more serious examples of careless driving will still go through the courts in the usual way, where higher penalty points and fines can be imposed.

Why the new measures ?

Until now, for all offences of careless or inconsiderate driving, it has been necessary to issue a summons and take the matter to court, a process which was considered by many, to be time consuming and a waste of resources for the ‘less serious’ offences of careless driving.

It meant that ‘minor’ driving offences went unpunished because of the bureaucracy involved.

The new procedures are targeted at poor, negligent and aggressive drivers, who hitherto, had gone unpunished. The idea is to target such offenders without the need for lengthy court procedures.

Are the new measures necessary ?

For those drivers who are guilty of the lesser offences of careless driving, this will enable them to accept the simplified ‘on the spot’ fixed penalty procedure, without having to go through, and endure, the court system.

However, on the other hand, for those drivers who are innocent of such offences, human nature as it is, they may well be tempted to accept the ‘on the spot’ fixed penalty, even though they do not accept their guilt, simply to avoid the hassle and risks involved in disputing the issue through the courts.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

September 9th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Husband and Wife Fined for Not Knowing Who Was Driving

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In a recent case heard at Exeter Magistrates Court, both a husband and wife were convicted, fined, and had their licences endorsed with six penalty points after magistrates found that they had failed to identify who had been driving their vehicle.

The case involved the couple’s vehicle being clocked speeding, following which, the usual Notice requesting information to identify the driver was sent to the wife as the Registered Keeper of the vehicle.

As both she and her husband would use the vehicle and indeed had both used the vehicle that day, she could not recall whether she or her husband had been driving at the relevant point in time.

Photographic evidence, whilst identifying the vehicle concerned, failed to identify the driver.

As a result, her husband was also sent a Notice to identify the driver, with a similar response.

As both were unable to identify who was driving at the time, summonses were served against each of them alleging failure to provide information as to the identity of the driver pursuant to S172 Road Traffic Act 1988, on the basis that it was for them to satisfy the court that they genuinely did not know who was driving at the time.

When the matter came before the court, neither attended with a view to establishing their case that they did not know who had been driving and they were convicted in their absence.

The legal requirement under S172 is to provide information as to the identity of the driver when requested to do so by the police. If a person is served with a Notice and fails to provide such information, then, in the absence of very good reason why that person is unable to provide such information, then the police will usually prosecute for failing to provide such information, with that person being left to persuade the court, by giving evidence, why he /she could not genuinely recall who was driving.

In the vast majority of cases, it is simply not enough to say “I don’t know who was driving”, or ” It might have been me or it might have been my husband”, as the court will need to be satisfied that all reasonable attempts had been made to trace the driver. As the onus will be on the person served with such Notice to provide reasons as to why they cannot identify the driver, it will be a rare case where such a defence will be established.

In the case in hand, both were fined and received 6 penalty points each on their licences as the offence of failing to provide such information, when requested to do so, carries a fixed 6 penalty points, whereas the offence of speeding itself carries 3-6 points.

For more information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmsolicitors.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

May 12th, 2010 at 7:14 pm

Posted in Fines,News,Points

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‘Totting Up’ is bad for your business

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I was asked this question not long ago:

I already have 9 penalthy points on my licence and have now been flashed by a Speed Camera for speeding. Is there a risk I could lose my license?” My answer? ” Yes – you will, for a minimum period of 6 months – unless you can persuade the court that this will lead to exceptional hardship”.

 

The above scenario is one I come across time and time again.
The legal position is quite clear in this situation. If you attain 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years, then the law is that you must be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of 6 months unless you can show that this would cause you “exceptional hardship”.

Establishing “hardship” is not enough as all such sentences are intended to cause hardship. You will need to establish “exceptional hardship”, which is something more that hardship.

There is no legal definition as to what constitutes “exceptional hardship”, and each case depends upon its own facts and circumstances. There have even been reported cases whereby the courts have held that even if your job depends upon you driving and you lose your job as a result eg HGV or Taxi driver, that this does not in itself necessarily result in exceptional hardship.

Your circumstances will therefore need to be looked at very carefully and your situation analysed to see whether you have grounds to establish exceptional hardship. What the courts tend to look for is whether, if you are disqualified from driving for 6 months, this would result in innocent third parties suffering exceptional hardship e.g. employees of yours who would as a result be made redundant, or perhaps the effects on a member of the family who relies upon you for driving.

Unless handled and presented properly by someone who knows what is involved and what is required to persuade the court not to disqualify you for 6 months, then your case could go horribly wrong, resulting in you not only being disqualified from driving for 6 months, but also risking losing your job and livelihood, not to mention the horrendous financial repercussions if this situation were to occur.

Too often I have sat, cringing at the back of the court, watching people, representing themselves without a solicitor, and making a complete hash of an otherwise good case, simply because

i)-they do not know what to say,
ii)-what not to say
iii)-what documents they need to present to the court in support of their case or
iv)- how to properly present their case to the court.

 

For those reasons, you should always, in the first instance at least, consult a solicitor specialising in this area.

Your solicitor will discuss the details of the case with you and advise as to whether your circumstances are such that they may amount to “exceptional hardship” justifying the court not disqualifying you from driving for 6 months.

Many people in this situation, and not having been in this situation before, merely think that they will either simply get 3 points and that’s the end of it, or that they believe (wrongly) that they can simply turn up at court, put forward any reason to avoid disqualification and get away with it.

That unfortunately, is not the case and people who attend court unrepresented thinking this, get the shock of their lives when they are disqualified from driving for 6 months with all the repercussions that may flow from such a period of disqualification.

The message is clear if faced with such a situation. You should first of all consult a solicitor and at least discuss the case with them so that you get proper advice. Depending upon that advice, you may then decide to engage the services of a solicitor to prepare and properly present you case at court. That way you at least stand a fighting chance.

There is nothing worse than having a good case, which is lost simply because of lack of knowledge as to what is required and poor presentation at court.

For more information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmsolicitors.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

April 26th, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Posted in News,Points,Speeding

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