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Strategic representation of a Dangerous Driving Charge: Achieving Best Outcomes

Dangerous Driving Charge Case Study by Paul Anderson, Senior Associate

A recent case I was involved in has outlined the serious consequences individuals face when charged under Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 and how those consequences can be minimised through strategic representation.

This specific charge pertains to dangerous driving, a charge that can have a significant impact on one’s life. In this blog post, I will share the details of this case and outline the challenges faced by our client, who was a company director.

The situation was of grave concern for our client, as a conviction under Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 would lead to an automatic disqualification from driving for a minimum period of 12 months. The stakes were high, as not only was our client’s reputation on the line, but the livelihood of his business was also at risk.

The case took place at the Sheriff Court before a single Sheriff. The primary charge against our client was driving at a speed of 90 miles per hour in a 40-mile-an-hour speed limit zone which was in place on a motorway due to temporary roadworks. The prosecution focused solely on the speed factor and did not allege any other aggravating factors contributing to the dangerous driving.

Speed alone can lead to a conviction for dangerous driving. I though negotiated with the Procurator Fiscal for a plea to a lesser offence, such as careless driving to be accepted. Although initially reluctant, the Procurator Fiscal eventually agreed to consider a plea to a Section 3 charge of careless driving.

The distinction between a Section 2 and a Section 3 offence is significant. In the case of careless driving, the court has discretionary powers when it comes to disqualification. Unlike a Section 2 conviction, a Section 3 offence does not mandate an automatic disqualification. This plea negotiation was a positive development for our client, as it significantly reduced the potential consequences of disqualification.

Careless driving, however, still posed challenges for our client. He already had nine penalty points on his licence, and the ‘Totting Up’ provisions necessitated a mandatory disqualification of six months upon reaching 12 points. Therefore, even with a plea to the lesser offence, our client faced the possibility of disqualification due to accumulating points.

During the court proceedings, the sheriff ordered four points to be added to our client’s licence. Although it was a relatively lenient penalty, it pushed our client’s total points to 13 within a three-year period. This meant he qualified for a mandatory disqualification under ‘Totting Up’ regulations.

To seek to avoid this outcome, we requested the sheriff to consider exceptional hardship as experienced not only by our client but also by other people connected to his business. Our argument centred on the fact that our client, as a salesman, relied heavily on his driving licence to travel across the country for meetings. It was impractical for him to hire a driver, use public transport, or rely on taxis.

The exceptional hardship proof was successfully argued, focusing not only on our client but also on the potential consequences for his business and employees. We provided evidence from our client’s accountant demonstrating the negative impact on the company if our client lost his licence. The court acknowledged the far-reaching consequences and accepted that others would suffer exceptional hardship as a result of our client’s disqualification.

In the end, the court granted our client the exceptional hardship proof, allowing him to retain his driving privileges despite accumulating 13 penalty points. This outcome was a great relief for our client, considering the serious charge he initially faced. A 12-month disqualification would have severely impacted his ability to manage his business and his overall quality of life.

This case serves as a reminder that contraventions of Section 2 and Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act can have significant consequences. Speeding alone can lead to prosecution and potential loss of a driving licence for an extended period. Losing a licence has far-reaching implications across all aspects of the professional and personal lives of the person disqualified.

It is essential to remember that dangerous driving charges must be treated seriously, and it is always advisable to consult legal professionals to understand the potential consequences and explore all available options.

In conclusion, this case demonstrated the importance of robust legal representation and negotiation in achieving a favourable outcome. By skillfully navigating the legal landscape, we were able to mitigate the consequences and preserve our client’s ability to operate his business and maintain his livelihood.

If you find yourself facing charges of dangerous driving or any traffic-related offences, it is crucial to seek professional legal advice promptly. Understanding the complexities of the law and having a knowledgeable lawyer by your side can make all the difference in securing a favourable outcome and protecting your future.

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