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It is essential to get specialist legal advice as early as possible. The way you respond to a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) or a court summons can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case, so specialist legal guidance and representation from the outset is vital. Your lawyer will make sure you are aware of your rights and provide a robust defence against any charges.
Careless driving covers a wide range of behaviours from speeding to major collisions. Due to the broad scope of this offence, the potential penalties are equally extensive, including between three and nine penalty points, a fine and/or disqualification (although this is usually reserved for serious or repeat offences).
The critical element in careless driving cases is whether the driving fell ‘below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver’. The evidence relied on by the Procurator Fiscal to prove the driving fell below this standard may be open to challenge.
Dangerous driving, in comparison to careless driving, occurs if the manner of driving ‘falls far below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver’. Examples include excessive speeding, ignoring traffic lights and driving under the influence of drink or drugs.
A conviction for this offence will result in a driving ban, and may result in an unlimited fine and up to two years imprisonment. Again, the evidence used to establish the manner of driving could be contested.
This is a serious crime with significant legal implications, so you must seek expert legal advice if you are charged with this offence. To be convicted, your driving must have been dangerous and must have caused the death of another person. The burden lies with the prosecution to prove this beyond reasonable doubt.
Death by dangerous driving cases are prosecuted in the High Court, and a successful conviction can result in up to 14 years imprisonment. The sentence depends on the circumstances and any relevant aggravating and mitigating factors. We will instruct only the best Counsel to help defend your case in the High Court, and give you advice on approaching your insurance company regarding legal expenses.
Under section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, drivers are required to have an insurance policy in place that covers at least third-party risks. Usually, driving without insurance begins with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FNP) of six penalty points and a £300 fine. If you do not accept the FNP, for example because the vehicle does not belong to you, your case may go to court. Your lawyers will discuss your options with you and how best to proceed.
If you use a mobile phone while driving, the court will impose six penalty points and it is likely a financial penalty will also be imposed. The crucial point in these cases is what constitutes ‘use’ of the mobile phone.
The offence generally covers using a hand-held phone to make a call, text or use the internet; however, if the phone was used while secured in a cradle or for an emergency call, there could be scope to challenge the charge.
Section 5 of the Road Traffic Act makes it a criminal offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a vehicle while over the legal limit of alcohol. The penalties given depend on the nature of the offence but can include a driving ban, fine and imprisonment.
A defence to this charge often focuses on challenging the validity of evidence, for example, if there is concern about the way police collected a breath, blood or urine sample.
Speeding is the most common driving offence we see as road traffic lawyers. Speeding in Scotland can result in 3-6 penalty points, a fine and/or a discretionary disqualification if the speeding was ‘grossly excessive’.
If you have committed more than one driving offence in three years, the penalty points on your licence will add up, and you could be at risk of disqualification. Where you accrue 12 penalty points or more in a three-year period, you could be prohibited from driving for a minimum of six months. This is known as a ‘totting up’ disqualification. We can give you advice on whether “special reasons” exist in relation to your case or if you can avoid disqualification by proving “exceptional hardship” would result from your disqualification. We can also provide advice and representation in relation to seeking to have your driving licence returned early following disqualification.
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