Monday, 2 May 2016

Reduction in driving ban: a case study

Front of city of London Magistrates Court
City of London Magistrates' Court

In a recent case, Nick Diable of London Drink Driving Solicitor, defended Mr S, who was accused of drink driving at the magistrates' court.  Mr S made it clear that he would be pleading guilty and would like some help reducing the length of the disqualification.

Mr S had been seen by police jumping a red traffic light and, when stopped, was found to be over the drink driving limit.  Mr S was arrested and taken to the police station where he the Evidential Breath Machine showed he had 74 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath, which is a little over twice the drink driving limit.  A first time offender should expect a driving ban of between 17 and 22 months upon conviction for a reading at that level.  Mr S's offence was aggravated by his jumping the red traffic light.

Mr S was advised to get character references that would show he is a responsible man who doesn't normally commit crimes.  S felt unable to approach anybody because he was genuinely ashamed that he had got behind the wheel while over the drink driving limit and couldn’t bring himself to tell people outside his immediate family - for obvious reasons immediate family are not the best character referees.

To his credit, Mr S had only driven a very short distance because he had quickly realised that his actions were a danger to others so had already ceased driving by the time the police followed him around the corner to stop him.  Nick was able to convince the court that as this offence was committed in the early hours there was nobody else about and so even though S jumped the red light there had been very little danger to other road users before S decided to stop driving.

S was genuinely ashamed of his actions and remorseful that he could have put other people in danger, even though he did not actually do so.  

After telling the court about the offence and S's attitude toward it, Nick told the court that they should reduced the driving ban to reflect both the mitigation and S's guilty plea.  This can be a difficult argument as many lawyers, judges and magistrates take the view that the driving ban is an ancillary order and not part of the sentence.  This means that it cannot be reduced to reflect a guilty plea and mitigating the length of the ban is much harder.

In this case, the magistrates’ accepted Nick’s submissions and agreed that the disqualification should be reduced both in light of the guilty plea and following the mitigation put forward by Nick on S’s behalf.

As a result, S was fined and disqualified from driving for 12 months.  He was allowed to take the drink driving rehabilitation course, which will further reduce his driving ban to 9 months instead of the starting point of up to 22 months.

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