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The Gullands guide to motoring offences

12.03.2012

For most people the mere sight of someone being spoken to by the police on the side of the road prompts them to slow down and consider how they would feel if they were in the same position.

The penalties if convicted of a very serious traffic offence can be high. For example, causing death by dangerous driving carries a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment.

For many, however, the prospect of losing their driving licence is a much greater possibility, and in these circumstances it is prudent to take expert legal advice from a solicitor.

Most road traffic offences, such as going through a red traffic light or driving in a bus lane, will add penalty points to your licence. Offenders who reach 12 points within three years, known as ‘totting up’, become liable for disqualification. A first disqualification is for a minimum of 6 months.

Not all motoring offences are endorsable but those that are carry a minimum of three penalty points with some, such as speeding, carrying a range of points depending on the seriousness of the circumstances.  If you are caught speeding on a motorway and the measured speed exceeds 100mph, for example, the magistrates’ court will always consider a period of disqualification.

Where a person is offered a fixed penalty, this would be for three penalty points and currently a £60 fine.  If they wish to dispute the offence or where the addition of penalty points would result in the driver totting up, they will be summonsed to attend court. If convicted, the magistrates can impose a greater number of points and a higher fine.

A magistrates’ court has discretion not to disqualify a driver, or disqualify for a period less than six months if, on hearing evidence, it considers that loss of licence would result in exceptional hardship.

An alternative solution available to the court is to impose a discretionary disqualification for the new offence, typically for a period of between seven and 56 days. This allows the court to mark the offence with a shorter disqualification, avoiding the need to consider whether exceptional hardship arises.

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