Drink & Drugs Driving & Speeding Offences
Newcastle, Durham, Teesside, Sunderland, Northumberland & North East areas
We offer a fixed fee service: www.drinkdrivinglawyer.co.uk
Drink Driving offences
Failing to stop after an accident
Drunk in Charge
Careless or inconsiderate driving
Using a mobile phone whilst driving
Considering initial disclosure, and any other evidence and providing advice.
Providing me with instructions on what happened.
Explaining court procedure to you so you know what to expect on the day of your plea hearing.
Preparatory work for trial, obtaining further instructions from you and answering any follow up queries you have.
Taking instructions from any witnesses and drafting their statements.
Explaining the trial procedure so that you know what to expect in the trial
Attendance and representation at all hearings at the Magistrates Court
Likely to be at least two hearings, i) the plea hearing and ii) the trial.
The fee does not include:
Instruction of any expert witnesses
Advice and assistance in relation to a special reasons hearing
Advice or assistance in relation to any appeal
Our travel expenses if over 100 miles round trip
Have you been accused of drink or drugs driving, or speeding?
Drink and Drugs Driving is a serious offence and Drink Driving carries a mandatory ban for a minimum period of 12 months.
I can defend the allegation of drink and drugs driving if you can prove special reasons in relation to the reasons why you were driving whilst over the limit.
The legal drink driving alcohol limit is 35 milligrams per 100 millilitres of breath.
Defences for Drink Driving Allegations;
- Showing that you were not driving.
- Denying that you were driving on a road or in a public place.
- Arguing that you consumed the alcohol that took you over the legal limit after you stopped driving (otherwise known as a hip flask defence).
- Denying that you were over the limit and arguing that the police evidence is unreliable.
Special Reasons Arguments
This is not an actual defence, but you may be able to argue that there are special reasons in your case as to why you should not be banned for drink driving.
In Charge of a Motor Vehicle Whilst Over the Drink Driving Limit
The ‘in charge of a vehicle’ offence normally occurs when you are sat in your car with the keys whilst over the drink drive limit. Or you may be sleeping in your car with the engine running to keep you warm.
Drunk in charge carries 10 points and the Courts can impose a discretionary ban if you are caught.
You can defend this allegation if you can convince the court that you wouldn’t have driven until the alcohol in your system had reduced below that of the legal limit.
An experts report may be needed to show how long it would have taken for the alcohol in your system to reduce below the limit.
Speeding Offences and Defences
Minor Speeding Offences – Usually dealt with via a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), 3 points & £100 fine or you may be offered a speed awareness course, or you can elect to defend the alleged offence in court.
Serious Speeding Offences – Normally defined as 20 mph or more over the speed limit. Usually leads to a Court summons & prosecution. Penalties in the range of 3 – 6 points and up to £1000 fine (up to £2500 for speeding on a motorway). Police are required to lodge the summons with the Court within 6 months, but this does not mean that if you don’t hear from them within six months that you have escaped prosecution.
Very Serious Speeding Offences – Usually regarded as 30 mph+ over the speed limit. Often result in a 7 – 56 day driving ban. In the most serious cases involving very high speeds you can receive a custodial sentence.
Speed Awareness Courses
You may only attend one course in a 3 year period. The cost of attending these one day courses varies across the UK & may in some instances be more than the £100 fine you would receive for a fixed penalty notice.
A course allows you to avoid the penalty points and fine from the offence, however, some insurance companies will still increase your premiums if you have attended a course.
Are you a new driver? The rules on speeding for the first two years of driving are different.
Are You Expecting A Speeding Ticket?
To convict you of speeding, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you; were driving a motor vehicle on a public road at a speed exceeding the limit for the road – only then can you be found guilty of driving in excess of a speed restriction.
Penalties: How Many Points for Speeding?
Excess speed offences are outlined in Section 89 Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984.
The police or the magistrates court will impose a fine and 3-6 penalty points on your licence. Furthermore, if your speeding offence involves excessive high speed then you can be given a discretionary driving ban.
The fixed penalty fine is currently £100. However non-fixed penalty offences fines can be up to;
- £1000 for non-motorway; or
- £2500 for motorway offences.
(Speed offence fines are means tested).
In essence, the prosecution has to prove; that a person drove a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding the limit for the road in question.
People often get confused about the manner in which a speed limit is imposed. Quite often a defendant will raise the issue that there were no speed limit signs on the road indicating restricted speed.
Standard speed tickets carry 3 to 6 penalty points.
If your driving offence involves a high speed, the court can use Section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act to impose a discretionary ban.
Questioning the Evidence Against You
One common way used to defend allegations of driving above the speed limit is to demonstrate that for your particular offence, the speed detection device used (camera, hand held gun etc) was not being used in accordance with the (Association of Chief Police Officers) ACPO codes of practice.
In order to rely upon a speed detection device for evidence, the Prosecution are required to show that it was being used in accordance with Home Office Approval.
The required Home Office Approval necessitates the testing of the device by ACPO TET, who set out the necessary criteria for using the device.
If you can prove that the device was not being used in accordance with that criteria, then it was also not being used with the required Home Office Approval. This would mean that the evidence would be treated as being unreliable.
You cannot be convicted of speeding purely on the uncorroborated opinion evidence of a Police Officer.
It is a requirement that the Police Officer, having formed an opinion that a vehicle is exceeding a speed limit, then uses an approved speed detection device to corroborate his personal opinion.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is an offence for a person who has been required to provide specimens for analysis to fail without reasonable excuse to do so.The Police can lawfully require a person to provide a specimen of blood, breath or urine “in the course of an investigation as to whether a person has committed the offences of being in charge/driving or attempting to drive whilst unfit, or driving/attempting to drive with excess alcohol.
Essentially, if the Police think that you have consumed alcohol, or are under the influence, they are entitled to obtain evidence. Given that the only way they can obtain that evidence is to take a breath, blood or urine sample, a refusal to provide such a specimen would clearly prevent them from proving their case, so that refusal is a further offence.
Driving with drugs in your system is a serious offence which is deemed to have taken place when you have driven or attempted to drive a vehicle while impaired by drugs.
The punishment will depend on a number of factors, including the level of impairment as well as aggravating and mitigating factors.
The minimum penalty is 3-11 penalty points, but disqualification is also possible and bans are typically between 1-3 years. The maximum fine that can be imposed is £5,000. The courts can issue a community orders and prison sentences of up to six months.
In order to prove this allegation the police will have to take a blood or urine sample from you.
This is an offence when a person is in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit through drugs, but has not actually driven the vehicle.
The minimum penalty is 10 penalty points which will remain on the person’s licence for four years.
A driving ban is also likely for between 12 and 36 months. On top of that, a £5,000 fine can be imposed as well as up to six months’ imprisonment.
To be convicted the police have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that your ability to drive was affected by your being under the influence of drugs.
If you are prosecuted for being in charge of a vehicle while unfit through alcohol it will often mean that you were not stopped whilst actually driving, but that the police had reason to believe you had been drinking and were in charge of a vehicle.
Being in charge means having the keys in your possession whilst you are in the car. It is not necessary for the keys to actually be in the ignition.
It is an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving a motor vehicle.
Under UK law, ‘driving’ includes being stationary if the engine is running, including in a traffic queue and at traffic lights.
This offence is designed to promote UK road safety. (Section 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986).
This offence carries a standard fine of £200 and 6 penalty points, with a maximum of up to £1000 and 6 points on your driving licence.
(The fine can rise to £2,500 if you are driving a bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle).
What Do The Prosecution Have To Prove?
The prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were actually driving with a mobile phone in your hand and it was in use at the time.
“Use” includes using the device for any telecommunication purpose, not just making or receiving calls.
This includes texting while driving, using any other Apps, or messenger services that allow you to communicate with other people.
This offence is not just about you using your mobile as a phone to talk to people whilst you were driving.
If you get caught driving while using a mobile phone you will be at risk of 6 points and a fixed penalty or a summons to court.
It is a criminal offence to drive without insurance and has a maximum penalty of a 12-month driving ban as well as a fine.
In addition to this, the driver will be given 6 – 8 penalty points which will remain on their licence for 4 years.
The Police also have the power to seize and destroy vehicles which have been driven without insurance (if certain conditions apply).
If we get involved at a very early stage we may be able to get matters dropped by establishing to the police that you were actually insured and so there is no public interest in pursuing the matter further.
If you are a new driver you are not permitted to get 6 or more points in their first two years after passing their test.
The purpose of a Special Reasons Argument is to try to persuade the Court (after they have heard you give evidence under oath), that under the particular circumstances, it would not be appropriate to impose penalty points on your licence.
The principle behind ‘special reasons’ is that for certain motoring offences, (even if the defendant is technically guilty of the offence), the court may choose not to impose a driving ban, even where a ban is normally mandatory.
Special reasons are covered in S.34 RTA 1988
Special Reasons Arguments may be used to avoid a drink driving ban, but it is also possible use it to avoid penalty points for any endorsable offences.
The most frequently heard Special Reasons Argument is that the offence was committed in the context of an emergency, e.g. you may have been rushing someone to casualty and in doing so you went through a red light or exceeded the speed limit.
The Court will not impose penalty points on your licence if they find that special reasons do apply.
In order to be a special reason it must fulfil the following criteria and must be;
1. A mitigating or extenuating circumstance
2. It must not amount in law to a defence to the allegation
3. It must be directly connected to the commission of the offence
4. It must be something that the Court ought to take into consideration when deciding what punishment to impose.
If your offence was a genuine mistake then you can argue special reasons.
This can be useful as most traffic offences are what is referred to as ‘Strict Liability’.
This means that whether or not you intended to commit the offence, the fact that you committed it makes you guilty.
For the first two years after passing your driving test you are classed as a new driver.
The ‘probationary period’ for new drivers is the first two years that you are on the road.
If you accumulate 6 points whilst you are a new driver you will lose you driving licence.
In order to get it back you will need to take a complete re-test.
If you are guilty of the offence, then magistrates have very little discretion about imposing points on your licence.
Once you have the points then the decision to revoke your licence happens automatically at DVLA.
I have been offered a Fixed Penalty for No Insurance – should I take it?
If you accept a fixed penalty of 6 points on your licence and a fine of £200, then revocation of your licence will happen automatically.
If you were to continue to drive you would commit additional offences and would risk a 6 month totting up ban.
Having your licence revoked doesn’t remove the points from it. They will remain effective for 3 years from the date of the original offence.
Director Of Public Prosecutions v Barreto
The High Court in May 2019 handed down a Judgement, which clarifies the offence of using a mobile phone whilst driving.
The conclusion is that the offence is not committed unless it is proved beyond reasonable doubt (by the Prosecution) that the phone was being used for an ‘interactive telecommunication function’ at the time of the alleged offence.
The High Court has agreed that using a function on a mobile phone which does not involve ‘interactive telecommunication’, is not a mobile phone offence.
However, as always, it may still be an offence of driving without due care and attention or dangerous driving, if the standard of driving falls below that expected of a careful and competent driver.
To see the full judgment CLICK HERE
We can assist individuals whose licences have been revoked by DVLA for a whole host of reasons, e.g. drug and alcohol misuse, heart problems, medical conditions (including epilepsy,) failed vision tests, etc.
The Growth of Roadside Eyesight Testing
Three Police forces (Thames Valley, Hampshire, and the West Midlands) have teamed up with ‘Brake’ (the road safety charity) and Vision Express, in order to set up an initiative to carry out roadside eyesight tests.
Roadside eyesight tests are not new but this particular initiative sees every single motorist stopped by officers and being asked to undertake the reading of a number plate from 20 metres.
If the motorist fails, the Police have the power to report the individual to the DVLA and request an urgent and immediate revocation of the motorist’s licence.
In the first two years of this scheme, over 600 motorists had their licences revoked at the roadside by the Police.
However, many of these people may not have had any idea that their eyesight was not up to the DVLA medical standard, and as such the immediate revocation of their licence would have come as a massive shock as they are left stranded at the side of the road, unable to drive their vehicle home.
S.59 PRA 2002 is the power to seize a vehicle being used in a manner causing alarm, distress or annoyance.
A constable has to be in uniform and has to have reasonable ground for believing that a vehicle has been used in a manner which amounts to driving without due care and attention or inconsiderate driving. (s.3 RTA 1988).
The officers powers allow him/her to ;
a. order the driver to stop.
b. seize and remove vehicle.
c. enter premises to get the vehicle.
d. use reasonable force if necessary.
He cannot seize the vehicle unless he has warned the person concerned first and the person has then continued to ignore that warning and does the same again.
The need for a warning can be dispensed with if the officer can show that he has warned before/it wasn’t practical to warn/he believes a warning has been given by another constable/he believes a warning has been given in the last twelve months – maybe in relation to a different car.
The Constable has to have asked for production of the licence/insurance on the spot and if so the driver has to then fail to produce them on the spot.
The constable has to form the reasonable suspicion that the vehicle is not insured, or the driver doesn’t have a driving licence, (or both).
The constable can also make this demand and form the reasonable suspicion if a driver fails to stop.
The constable then must warn the driver of his suspicion and his intention to seize (unless it is impracticable for him to do so).
He can then seize the vehicle straight away if he driver fails to produce.
He can enter premises (other than a dwelling) to do so and if necessary can use reasonable force.
There is is no legal requirement to carry the documents with you.
However, things can go wrong with the police national computer or the national insurance database, meaning you can end up being wrongfully stopped.
Subsequently, if you don’t have the documents with you., it can cause major issues.
Most police officers will give someone the chance to produce, or phone their insurers at the roadside or may even follow them home to see the insurance certificate.
The penalties for failing to stop following an accident or collision (often called hit and run) are significant.
You will face 5 – 10 penalty points on your licence and a prison sentence of up to 6 months.
Hit and run may just be a car park scrape and damage caused, but it becomes much more serious when personal injury has occurred.
Where an accident has taken place and either damage or personal injury has been caused, then the vehicle driver is required to remain at the scene of the accident and to provide their name and address.
It is an offence under Section 170 Road Traffic Act 1988 to fail to stop at the scene of an accident.
Normally exceptional hardship arguments can be divided into emotional and financial hardship, e.g. if the driver cares for a relative or needs to drive for their job.
We can draw together the necessary documentation and other evidence, as well as provide the legal advice needed to improve your chances of achieving a positive outcome.
A successful exceptional hardship argument is built on good preparation and good presentation.
All relevant information relating to your personal and professional circumstances should be put before the court in order to give you the best opportunity to save your licence.
The court more often than not is presented with arguments regarding the possibility of a person losing their job as the result of a disqualification.
Although this is a perfectly valid argument, the court will sometimes need more compelling and convincing arguments as to why you cannot use public transport and why they should not impose a disqualification.
The impact your disqualification would have on an innocent party is a good example of this.
Sometimes the consequences of a disqualification can be so extreme that the penalty is no longer proportionate to the offence.
This is a conclusion that sometimes the court does not easily come to on its own. That is where we come in.
If the court is persuaded not to disqualify you, this would be your last chance.
The court will still endorse your licence with penalty points, which remain ‘live’ for the purposes of any future court proceedings for a period of 3 years.
You would then be driving around with 12 or more penalty points until they expire.
If you successfully rely on an exceptional hardship and within 3 years find that you are facing another disqualification due to ‘totting up’ you will not be able to rely on the same set of facts that you relied upon on the previous occasion.
You may be surprised to learn that you do not have an automatic right to give a blood sample at the police station, even if you ask for it.
Section 7(3) Road Traffic Act 1988 says that a blood specimen can only be requested in the following circumstances;
- If the breath test machine gives an unreliable indication of alcohol
- If you cannot give breath due to a medical condition
- If there is no breath test machine available for use
The police cannot charge you with drink driving before the results of the blood test have been obtained, even if your roadside reading was high.
You will be released under investigation until the results come back; and do not usually have to return to the police station (unless the police want to interview you).
Blood tests can take anywhere from 8 weeks to 6 months. You can continue to drive over this period, unless the police tell you otherwise.
During this time the police will send your sample to an independent laboratory for analysis.
The legal limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.
If the result is greater than 80mg the police will charge you (unless we can stop them).
There are even circumstances where the police can charge you with drink driving despite your results being under the legal limit!
Delay in analysing the sample
Due to it becoming common practice for the police to leave blood samples lying around, the government commissioned an investigation by the HM Inspectorate. The report advised that blood samples be sent to the laboratory within one week of being taken.
The report, however, seems not to have reached the police, as it is now more common for samples to remain at police stations for up to 3 weeks before being sent to the laboratory.
The issue here is that blood is an organic material and will decompose overtime. A consequence of this is that alcohol is created in the blood (a process known as fermentation). Every time a refrigerator door is opened, the temperature inside the fridge will fluctuate. This can disturb the stability of the specimen and may speed up the fermentation process.
One way to prevent fermentation is to add a preservative to the sample, such a sodium fluoride.
This should be added by the nurse/doctor who takes the blood sample.
Do you remember seeing them add anything to the sample? If not, the sample may have increased in alcohol concentration before it reached the lab. To make matter worse, the laboratories instructed by the police do not test for preservative! This means that if the nurse/doctor failed to add the preservative, no one will know.
If your sample is above the prescribed limit, you will be charged and sent to court. The first court hearing is particularly important; it is the first opportunity you will have to review the evidence against you and enter a plea with the court.
At the first court hearing the CPS should provide a report confirming the results of the blood test, known as the MG22(b) or ‘Streamlined Forensic Toxicology Report (SFR1)’.
This report should contain all the relevant technical information that we would need to check, including:
- The method of analysis – Was the method ISO approved?
- A unique barcode and for tracing & continuity purposes – Do these results actually belong to you?
- The condition of the sample and its packaging upon receipt – Has it been tampered with or damaged?
- The date the sample was received by the laboratory – How long was it stored at the police station before postage?
- The amount deducted from the sample for analytical variation – Has the result been reduced to reflect the margin for error?
- The level of alcohol found in the sample – Is it consistent with your alcohol consumption, or does it seem high?
- The name of the laboratory where the sample was tested – Has this laboratory been accused of tampering like others have?
Any inconsistencies or discrepancies with the report would quickly be highlighted to the prosecutor, who may agree immediately to drop the case.
Alternatively, we may decide to keep the issue quiet and raise it at a later date when it would do more damage to the CPS’s case.
The Streamlined Forensic Reporting Protocol is a relatively new method of introducing forensic evidence. It was introduced as a cost cutting measure.
We can win cases because the police and CPS fail to understand the requirements of the protocol and the obligations it places on them.
In a drink driving case, urine is the least common sample.
This is because Police Guidance advises that urine should only be taken as a last resort, due to the complicated nature of the procedure, the time it takes to collect an evidential urine specimen and the inaccurate and unreliable results often provided by laboratories.
It stands to reason that the more you do something, the better you will be at it.
Many police officers are less familiar with urine procedures, and often try and adapt their knowledge of breath sample procedures, which they may carry out more often.
This can result in mistakes and errors being made with the evidence against you.
There is no immediate option to provide a urine specimen at the police station.
There are only four circumstances where urine can be requested by an officer;
- There is no evidential breath testing device available at the police station
- You are not able to provide a specimen of breath due to a medical reason
- The evidential breath testing device has produced an unreliable or inconclusive reading
- You were taken to the hospital rather than the police station
If urine is taken in any other circumstances, it could be unlawful. If you think this may have happened to you, please call us immediately.
The law states that you have one hour to provide two specimens of urine.
The first sample is obtained and discarded by the officer (it is during this attempt that you are required to empty your bladder, but this cannot be into a toilet).
You should then be given a period of time – often around 40 – 60 minutes – to refill your bladder.
The second sample is then obtained, retained and split into two.
Part of the second sample is provided to you, the other part is the evidential sample that will be sent to the laboratory.
The majority of urine cases we win will fail because of one of the following reasons.
The starting point when challenging a drink driving urine case is to consider the following:
- Do you have a statutory or common law defence?
Don’t worry if you’re not sure we can talk you through your options and identify any available defence immediately.
- Were all the correct procedures completed before a sample of urine was taken, including two 25 page legal documents?
If there is fault with the evidence. This could secure your acquittal.
- Did the officer have the power under statute to require you to provide a specimen of urine?
An officer cannot simply request a urine sample; he must have the legal authority to do so. If he was acting outside of his power – the case would collapse.
- Were you provided with part of your own specimen?
A failure to provide you with part of your sample would render the CPSs sample inadmissible, leading to a complete acquittal.
- Was a preservative tablet added to your sample before it was sent to the laboratory and was your sample shaken for the required period?
This procedure ensures the stability and accuracy of your urine sample. If the correct chemicals were not added, the sample may change in alcohol concentration.
- Did the sample vial contain all the relevant information and was it sealed in a tamper-evidence bag?
Without this information the CPS would struggle to establish continuity. The court must be certain that the sample received by the laboratory belonged to you.
- Can the CPS prove that the sample was stored in stable conditions prior to being sent to the laboratory?
Storage conditions are one of the most important factors that should be considered in a drink driving urine case. From police vehicle footwells to police officer’s pockets – we’ve seen it all.
- Was the sample analysed with an approved and recognised method and was this correctly documented?
We know the ‘ins and outs’ of forensic analysis.
- Can the CPS prove each and every element of the offence beyond all reasonable doubt?
Due to funding shortages and administration problems, the CPS rely on people pleading guilty at the first court hearing. By pleading not-guilty you force the CPS to provide the evidence within 28 days.
An allegation of causing death by dangerous driving is extremely serious.
Call 01207654365 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Causing death by dangerous driving is one of the most serious, if not the most serious, of all motoring offences.
If convicted of causing death by dangerous driving you will almost inevitably receive a prison sentence.
These cases can only be dealt with by a Crown Court and if you plead not guilty your case will be heard before a jury.
The maximum sentence for causing death by dangerous driving is 14 years imprisonment.
The court has also the power to impose a disqualification from driving for a minimum of two years and an extended driving test.
An allegation of dangerous driving is extremely serious.
Call 01207654365 or email us at email@example.com
To be found guilty of dangerous driving the prosecution must prove that you have driven in a way that ‘falls far below what would be expected of a careful and competent driver’.
A charge of dangerous driving can be brought against a driver for a variety of reasons; including but not limited to: driving at high speeds, aggressive driving, overtaking where it is illegal to do so, ignoring road signs or traffic markings, driving a vehicle which is not road worthy, driving under the influence of excess alcohol or under the influence of drugs.