Why Getting Arrested By The Police Doesn't Always Mean Losing Your Licence by:Chris Sweetman
For most people getting stopped by the police whilst driving is as stressful an experience as they are ever going to encounter. Most of us have been brought up believing that the Police are the law, and the thought that you may be able to question the decision of a police officer would never cross our minds.
However, the most important thing to remember is to seek advice as quickly as possible. It is easy to sit with your head in your hands waiting for someone to take away your licence but how much is your licence worth to you? Walking to the shops is an inconvenience but it won't change your life. However, losing your job will and in many cases a serious driving offence, such as drink driving, dangerous driving or careless driving are seen as gross misconduct and therefore grounds for dismissal.
In many cases a prosecution can also lead to a custodial sentence. Drink driving convictions can carry a custodial sentence depending on how high the reading was, and a conviction for death by dangerous driving is often accompanied by a significant jail sentence.
But this is not always the case. In recent years celebrity lawyers acting on behalf of major public figures have hit the headlines, when they have successfully defended a court action taken by the CPS that most of us would never have dreamed was defendable. Most recently Lord Ahmed was released from prison after serving just 16 days of a 12 week sentence for texting whilst driving his Jaguar on the M1 motorway, an offence he openly admits he was guilty of.
In Lord Ahmed's case Lady Justice Hallett said the court would not quash the prison sentence, insisting there was 'not one law for the rich and powerful and one law for the rest' a fact she felt, quite rightly, needed to be restated.
One may be forgiven for thinking that this kind of thing can only happen if you are a Labour peer or rich enough to afford a top barrister to argue your case, but this is simply not true. In fact, the majority of cases thrown out of court for technicalities or issues relating to the Police not following procedures are won by local solicitors, admittedly, highly trained in these areas.
The fact is that the police and prosecuting authorities must follow strict procedures at the roadside and in the police station in relation to your legal rights. They must also take into consideration any medication, medical or mental health problems that you may have had at that time. There are also very strict procedures to be followed during any procedure, especially in cases of drink driving, and failure to follow these rules may result in evidence being excluded.
Compliance with procedures set out in legislation and the correct operation of specified and approved equipment is also essential and it is this area that often causes the prosecution problems. In addition, the prosecuting authorities don't always introduce their evidence in the correct way and this can prove fatal to some prosecutions.
There are also special cases, where in certain circumstances the Courts may decide that on the facts presented to them there are 'Special Reasons' not to disqualify you or endorse your licence. There is a body of case law and specific guidelines as to what constitutes 'Special Reasons', you may fall into this category and this just may save your licence from being revoked.
Many people also believe that pleading guilty to an offence means that you cannot defend a prosecution, however, if you are accumulating points on your licence and are at risk of being disqualified, there are legal points and representations that can be made on your behalf to persuade a Court, that in all of the circumstances, even though you are guilty of an offence, you should not be disqualified. Cases such as these are called 'Exceptional Hardship' and as the title suggests, for it to be taken into consideration the hardship must be exceptional and more than mere inconvenience. It doesn't just have to affect you either, it can be your family or dependants or employees.
In all these cases it is imperative that you get good advice as quickly as possible. Immediately you are aware of an impending prosecution pick up the phone and speak to a specialist drink driving solicitor.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of websites on the internet that will gladly take your money before they will consider your specific case and prices can be punitive. So, ensure that you have all you papers to hand and find a solicitor who will speak to you on the phone first. Following that conversation an experienced driving law solicitor will be able to advice you of your next steps, ensuring that you do everything in your powers to save your licence.
About the author
Sweetmans Solicitors is a national practice operating throughout England and Wales. The two Principals are Chris and Dawn Sweetman. They have been part of the Criminal Justice System for a total of 37 years between them and have vast experience across the full range of criminal procedures.
Chris has been involved in the English Criminal Justice system since 1989, a very experienced advocate, he is not only a solicitor but has been called to The Bar (2004) and has Higher Rights of Audience as a Solicitor. Chris has always worked in the 'defence' area of law and his experience ranges from Magistrates' Court matters to complex Crown Court matters having worked on numerous Murder, serious Assault and Drugs cases, most notable the case of the murdered police officer, Sharon Beshenivsky. Chris and Dawn are also experienced Motoring Lawyers, specialising in drink driving, speeding, dangerous driving, and other serious motoring offences. If you require assistance and would like to speak to either Chris or Dawn you can contact them on 0800 141 2620.