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Stewarts Solicitors

Expert solicitors throughout Northern Ireland

Motoring & Driving Offences

Stewarts Solicitors has a long tradition of skilled representation in criminal proceedings. We provide essential advice and representation in all local criminal Courts and at Police Stations.

In this area of law, it is essential that clients are able to rely upon the skill and experience of their Solicitor to protect their legal rights and personal freedom at all times. Our motoring & driving law department has a highly qualified team with many years of experience.

Are you worried about losing your job if you are disqualified from driving? Our Solicitors know that expert representation can really make the difference between keeping your licence and losing it. If you have any motoring problems where you think legal advice would help, call us for a free quotation.

We cover the whole of Northern Ireland an appear at criminal courts in Antrim Court Solicitors, Armagh Court Solicitors, Ballymena Court Solicitors, , Banbridge Court Solicitors, Coleraine Court Solicitors, Craigavon Court Solicitors, Downpatrick Court Solicitors , Dungannon Court Solicitors, Enniskillen Court Solicitors , Laganside Court Solicitors, Magistrates Court Solicitors, Limavady Court Solicitors, Lisburn Court Solicitors, Londonderry Court Solicitors, Derry Court Solicitors, Magherafelt Court Solicitors, Newry, Court Solicitors Newtownards Court Solicitors, Omagh Court Solicitors, Strabane Court Solicitors.

Some information for the main offences clients have been charged can be found below.

Drink Driving Offences

Stewarts Solicitors are expert drink driving offence solicitors. If you have been stopped and may be charged with a drink driving offence you need to get expert legal advice and representation as quickly as possible. Quite often you can end up in front of the Judge within 28 days of the offence.

Early advice is key is you are facing a drunk driving offence in Northern Ireland. Our specialist Drink Driving Solicitors can look into all the elements of your drunk driving offence.

The procedures for arrest and for taking of an evidential specimen of either breath, blood or urine are very specific and unique; if not properly complied with this can amount to a Defence against a drink driving conviction.

The minimum punishment upon conviction is a 12 month ban. Although the Court does have discretion, a ban is for all intents and purposes compulsory. The duration of the disqualification does depend upon the circumstances of the incident and in particular the alcohol reading.

At the Court’s discretion, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a drink driving rehabilitation course which once completed, can reduce the period of a ban by 25%.

In Northern Ireland the course is provided by the TTC Group (http://www.ttc-uk.com/) your lawyer must ask for the judge to consider this option. Loss of job is not a reason to justify avoiding disqualification. If you have a previous conviction for drink driving the foregoing will not apply.

For a free initial consultation call our Drink Driving Solicitors on Freephone or contact us online and we will call you.

Drink Driving – Failure to Provide a Specimen

Where you stopped by the police and unable to provide a specimen? If prosecuted you may face a driving ban of around 18 months if not more.

These types of drink driving offences usually occur when someone who is suspected of drunk driving, is arrested but refuses/fails to provide a specimen to allow the police to prove that they’re over the prescribed alcohol limit. However, defences can arise if the procedure is not properly conducted or if the defendant had a reasonable excuse for failing to provide a specimen. Early advice is key if you require a failing to provide a specimen solicitor in Northern Ireland.

Drink Driving Offence – Drunk in Charge

Drunk in Charge is a totally different offence to the Drink Driving offence and is usually charged in circumstances where the police cannot prove the actual ‘driving’ element of the offence. Urgent expert legal advice is essential. The police and prosecution may have a weak case. However, the sentencing powers of the Courts are very similar to drink drive cases. You could face a minimum driving disqualification of 12 months. There is potential to avoid a disqualification if dealt with carefully. Early advice is key if you are being prosecuted for being drunk in charge and require a solicitor in Northern Ireland.

Drink Driving Offence – Excess Alcohol

It’s an offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle, on a public road or a place to which the public have access, whilst in excess of the prescribed alcohol limit. In Northern Ireland the alcohol limit for drivers is 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood, 35 micrograms (mg) per 100 millilitres (ml) of breath.

The minimum punishment upon conviction is a 12 month ban. Although the Court does have discretion, a ban is for all intents and purposes compulsory. The duration of the disqualification does depend upon the circumstances of the incident and in particular the alcohol reading.

At the Court’s discretion, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a drink driving rehabilitation course which once completed, can reduce the period of a ban by 25%.

In Northern Ireland the course is provided by the TTC Group (http://www.ttc-uk.com/) your lawyer must ask for the judge to consider this option. Loss of job is not a reason to justify avoiding disqualification. If you have a previous conviction for drink driving the foregoing will not apply. For a free initial consultation call our Drink Driving Solicitors on Freephone or contact us online and we will call you.

Drug Driving Offence – Driving Whilst Unfit

Drug Driving offences are similar to Drink Driving offences although ‘impairment’ must be proven by the police and PPS in a very different way. In addition, the alleged impairment may be due to illegal drugs, legal medication or other factors.

Our Drug Driving Solicitors can advise you, gather evidence in your defence and possibly save your driving licence. Call our Drink & Drug Driving Offence Solicitors on Freephone or contact us online.

Failure to Stop or to Report a Road Traffic Accident Offence

It is an offence to fail to stop (at the scene) and report a traffic accident if personal injury has been caused to someone other than the driver of the vehicle or if damage has been caused. This duty only applies to the driver of the vehicle. The driver must either exchange details with the other parties at the scene or report the accident to a police officer at a police station within 24 hours of the accident or as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Solicitors for Dangerous Driving & Careless Driving Offences

Dangerous Driving is the most serious (non-fatal) road traffic offence that a motorist can face. This is reflected in the sentencing powers of the Courts as if convicted, the Court can impose a custodial sentence of up to two years, as well as lengthy disqualification periods and extended re-tests when the driver eventually reapplies for their driving licence.

In order to convict someone of a Dangerous Driving offence, the Prosecution must show that the standard of driving displayed by the defendant was far below the minimum standard of driving expected of the competent and careful driver; and that that it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that manner would be dangerous.

Examples of dangerous driving include racing, aggressive driving, ignoring road signs or any form of dangerous overtaking. In certain circumstances, speed alone can amount to a dangerous driving offence if the speed is high enough.

Careless Driving Offences

A person is guilty of a Careless Driving offence if the standard of their driving was below the standard of driving expected of the competent and careful driver. When deciding what is to be expected from a competent and careful driver, the Prosecution must take into account not only the circumstances that the driver could be expected to be aware of, but also any circumstances shown to have been within the driver’s knowledge. This is an objective test.

The sentencing implications for a conviction of careless driving are much less than those of Dangerous Driving.

Driving Without Insurance Offence

It is a strict liability offence to drive a motor vehicle without having valid insurance. If convicted the starting point for this offence is an automatic endorsement of at least 6 penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000. The penalty points range from 6-8 points with a restriction disqualification available to the Court.

The law states that ‘ignorance’ is no defence. Therefore even a mistaken belief that you were insured at a particular time would not help your case in Court.

Insurance Companies are often the cause of driving without insurance offences as they can cancel policies without properly informing their customers. Or, after an incident, it may come to light that incorrect details had been provided to them by their customer (the insured person) and they claim the policy was invalid due to this ‘misrepresentation’.

However, it is not true to say that there is no defending these cases. For example, the statute creating the offence provides a special statutory defence for employees only. Other examples include, the computer systems used by the police not being up to date, cases can therefore be started when they should not be. It’s often the case that a person is covered by a company policy or another person’s insurance policy and the police are unaware of this when they detain or summons the defendant.

It is a fairly unique area of law as it is always for the defendant to prove to the Court that there was in place a valid insurance policy allowing them to drive that vehicle for that specific purpose. This is a reverse burden of proof, i.e. you are not innocent until proven guilty.

Special reasons may exist for driving a vehicle depending on the particular facts of the case and, if successfully argued, the standard 6 point endorsement (and the fine) could be prevented.

It is also a Driving Offence to permit another person to use your vehicle if they do not have insurance. If convicted you could face the same penalty as if you were driving without insurance.

Driving Using a Mobile Phone Offence

It is illegal to drive a vehicle or to ride a motorcycle using a mobile phone or a similar hand-held device. The using a mobile phone whilst driving offence infuriates people like no other. We are regularly contacted by people who have been falsely accused, by the Police for using their mobile phone whilst driving. This offence carries a standard 3 point endorsement and a fine of up to £1,000 and can, in certain circumstances, cause drivers to lose their licence for 6 months or more.

We have many years of experience in defending driving offences with an unrivalled success rate. We use thorough factual and technical defences and have a detailed knowledge of the relevant law which we use to our clients benefit.

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is Can you be prosecuted for using a mobile phone at traffic lights? The answer is yes. If the device is hand-held, even turning the mobile phone on is “using” the device which contravenes the current legislation. The fact that you were stationary in makes no difference, as you were still “driving” the car.

In order to avoid prosecution, you should only use a hand-held phone when the car is parked and the engine is turned off.

Notice of Intended Prosecution Offences

Notice of Intended Prosecution offences include speeding, dangerous driving and driving without due care and attention. Depending on the severity of the driving offence committed, you may be prosecuted. In speeding offence cases, for example, if you were caught speeding and you were exceeding the speed limit by a considerable margin, you are likely to be prosecuted.

If you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you should receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution within 14 days. If you are not the registered keeper, the Notice will go to whoever is on record with the DVLNI, be it a lease company or hire company etc., as appropriate. As long as the Notice is served in time, your obligation is to supply details as to driver identity, which you must do within 28 days of receiving the NIP. Thereafter, the Police will decide whether they are willing to offer a speed awareness course, a Fixed Penalty or refer the case to Court.

If you do not reply to the Notice in time, or with-hold information, you will be prosecuted for failing to identify a driver and would risk 6 points and a substantial fine.

Penalty Point Endorsements

In addition to fines for driving offences the Courts can and do ‘endorse’ driving licences with penalty points. If you accumulate or ‘tot up’ to 12 penalty points or more within a three year period you can be disqualified from driving.

Stricter rules apply to new drivers. The Road Traffic (New Drivers) (NI) Order 1998 states that a newly qualified driver shall be subject to a probationary period of two years. Where the new driver accumulates 6 points or more within that period, the Licence shall be revoked by the Department of the Environment. A full licence may not be granted to a new driver whose licence was revoked under the relevant article until the driver passed a “relevant driving test”. If the offence for which you may receive penalty points also carries discretionary disqualification the Court may consider a short period of disqualification rather that revocation by virtue of totting up. who will have their driving licence revoked if they get six penalty points or more within two years of getting their full driving licence. Drivers wanting to get their licence back must re-apply for a provisional licence and re-sit both the theory and practical driving tests.

Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between the United Kingdom and the republic of Ireland.

With effect from 28 January 2010 mutual recognition of driving disqualifications between the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland came into force.

The Convention provides for six agreed kinds of conduct, which will be internationally recognised for the purposes of driving disqualification. The Convention automatically comes into force across all Member States only when all original signatory States have ratified it. However, the Convention allows one EU Member State to recognise another’s driving disqualifications before all Member States have ratified.

The agreed behaviours covered by the 1998 Convention include: reckless or dangerous driving; hit-and-run driving; driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs; speeding; and driving whilst disqualified. The Convention and therefore also today’s agreement does not apply to disqualifications under the totting up of penalty points procedure.

The UK and Republic of Ireland implemented the necessary primary legislation to allow for ratification (in the UK through the Crime (International Co-operation) Act 2003, and in the Republic of Ireland under the Road Traffic Act (2002). Both countries have made the relevant notification to the EU Council and legislation must come into force 90 days after notification, i.e. 28 January 2010.

Mutual recognition of driving disqualifications came into effect between Great Britain and Northern Ireland on 11 October 2004 and was extended to include the Isle of Man on 23 May 2005.

For the purposes of these Regulations the date of conviction will be used, regardless of when the offence was committed and an endorsement will remain on the licence and the record for four years from date of conviction in Ireland.

There is no mutual recognition of penalty points between the jurisdictions, so the UK court cannot add on Irish penalty points, for totting up purposes. However, the court has a wide discretion, in considering whether to impose discretionary disqualifications in the UK, to consider all mitigating or aggravating factors. The court therefore may consider the driver’s licence history generally.

We cover the whole of Northern Ireland an appear at criminal courts in Antrim Court Solicitors, Armagh Court Solicitors, Ballymena Court Solicitors, , Banbridge Court Solicitors, Coleraine Court Solicitors, Craigavon Court Solicitors, Downpatrick Court Solicitors , Dungannon Court Solicitors, Enniskillen Court Solicitors , Laganside Court Solicitors, Magistrates Court Solicitors, Limavady Court Solicitors, Lisburn Court Solicitors, Londonderry Court Solicitors, Derry Court Solicitors, Magherafelt Court Solicitors, Newry, Court Solicitors Newtownards Court Solicitors, Omagh Court Solicitors, Strabane Court Solicitors. Drink driving solicitor, drunk driving solicitor, no insurance solicitor, specialist court solicitors, penalty point solicitor.

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