Ms. M is just getting over a very nasty surprise indeed. She divorced from her husband and moved to a new address. She informed as many people as she could think of doing. She told her insurance company and changed the address on her driving licence. One thing she didn’t do is change the address on her car’s registration document.
On 2 consecutive days last summer, Ms. M broke a temporary speed limit on the motorway. Careless, but not the end of the world for a driver with an unblemished driving history. She could expect to be offered a speed awareness course for one of the offences, and a 3 point fixed penalty for the other.
The police did their usual checks and sent the forms to her old address – they take their details from the car registration document that hadn’t been updated. Not surprisingly, there was no reply to either of the forms. So, 2 summonses were sent out. Again, there were no replies.
The result? In February, Ms. M was convicted of 2 offences of ‘failing to identify a driver’ and as well as a hefty fine she got 6 points for each – that meant a 6-month disqualification. It also meant that her insurance certificate was no longer valid. All without her having the slightest idea of the trouble she was in.
A few days later Ms. M was happily waiting to board a ferry when a check on her details by the port police led to her arrest for driving whilst disqualified. A few hours later, after a very unpleasant spell in a police station, she was put on bail to attend court charged with driving whilst disqualified AND driving without insurance…and she was still disqualified.
The next day, she contacted motoringlawbarristers.co.uk.
The very next day, we had the original cases relisted. Following a ‘statutory declaration’ the Magistrates allowed the cases to be reopened. Following a discussion between Ashley and the police prosecutor, it was agreed that she plead Guilty to the 2 speeding offences. The 2 ‘failing to identify a driver’ offences were withdrawn. Ms. M left court with a reduced fine and 6 points on her licence. Not as good a state as she would have been in if she had changed the address on her registration document, but at least she was no longer disqualified and we could concentrate on the serious offences she was still facing. (The court has the power to send you to prison for driving whilst disqualified.)
This is the point where a simple knowledge of the law is not enough and having a barrister with over 25 years’ experience helps. In reality, Ms. M was guilty of both offences. She had no defence. Even though she didn’t know it, she was driving whilst disqualified and she was driving without insurance. All that said, the prosecutors in the CPS are not robots and can consider all the circumstances. Careful negotiations behind the scenes in the days leading up to today’s court hearing paid dividends. It’s often the work you don’t see that’s crucial in the law, not the work you do see. The prosecution agreed that, whilst there was enough evidence in the case, it would not be in the public interest to pursue the matter further. Not only were both charges withdrawn, but Ms. M was allowed to reclaim her costs.
All’s well that ends well and Ms. M left court a very relieved woman.
The moral of the tale? Keep your details updated! (…but if you didn’t, contact motoringlawbarristers.co.uk asap.)