Specialist lawyers road traffic offences
If you have been charged with a driving offence, it’s important you enlist the help of a specialist road traffic law firm. Road traffic law is a complex and detailed area of law and as such, requires the use of a specialist solicitor. We are expert motoring solicitors and we can help you keep your licence.
Road Traffic offences FAQ
Road Traffic Offences are the most common charges that anyone can find themselves facing in the criminal courts. As soon as you drive a vehicle there are numerous rules that apply to the vehicle itself and the manner in which the vehicle is driven. Some of the charges that may result from bad driving can be extremely serious, others relatively minor.
It is therefore essential that you obtain the correct advice as soon as possible. We have solicitors who are experienced in Road Traffic Law, and who may make the difference between keeping your licence or losing it. There are a few serious charges where a custodial sentence may be the main consideration of the courts e.g. causing death by dangerous driving.
If you have been charged with any driving offence contact us without delay on any of the telephone numbers stated on this webpage for immediate advice and if necessary to arrange a free consultation. We can also advise you in relation to obtaining legal aid to cover the cost of our representation.
The most common charges under the Road Traffic Act are stated below:
Causing death by Dangerous Driving (Section 1 Road Traffic Act 1988)
A person who causes the death of another person by driving a mechanically propelled motor vehicle dangerously on a road or other public place is guilty of an offence. (The test of what is likely to be held to be dangerous is stated below).
Dangerous Driving (Section 2 Road Traffic act 1988)
You may be charged with dangerous driving where your driving falls far short of what is expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
”Dangerous” refers to the danger of injury to any person or of serious damage to property. The offence is committed when there is a potential to cause injury or damage.
In determining in whether the driving is dangerous the court will look at the circumstances of which a “competent and careful driver” could be expected to be aware, but also to any circumstance shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused.
Examples of driving that have been held to be dangerous:
- Driving a vehicle which is not roadworthy, despite a valid MOT being in force.
- Driving whilst suffering from a known medical condition, which might impair the ability to properly control a motor vehicle.
- Driving at grossly excessive speed over the speed limit.
Causing Death by Careless Driving (Section 2B Road Traffic Act 1988)
Causing death by careless driving is a serious offence and carries significant penalties including imprisonment. The test is the same as careless driving (see below) but if the consequences of that driving result in someone being killed the charge becomes extremely serious.
Careless Driving (Section 3 Road Traffic Act 1988)
Driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other road users using the road or another public place.
You can be said to be driving without due care and attention if the way you drive falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver. Regard will be had to the circumstances within your knowledge and also circumstances you could be expected to be aware of when looked at objectively.
- Reversing into another vehicle when parking;
- Overtaking on the inside;
- Tailgating by driving too close to another vehicle;
- Driving through a red light;
- Turning into the path of another vehicle;
- Being distracted by tuning the radio, lighting a cigarette, talking with another person in the car;
- Driving the wrong way down a one-way road
Drink Driving (Section 5 Road Traffic Act 1988)
If you drive or are in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or other public place after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of it in your breath, blood or urine exceeds the prescribed limit you are guilty of an offence.
The drink driving limit in Scotland is 22mg of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath. This is effectively the equivalent of more or less one large glass of wine or one pint of beer.
It is a defence to the offence of “being in charge” that there was no likelihood of you driving the vehicle. An expert toxicology report is required to satisfy the court that you would have been fit to drive at some later time when it was anticipated you would drive the car.
The police will require anyone suspected of committing an offence to provide a roadside breath test. If the test is positive you will be arrested and taken to a police station where further testing will take place on an intoximeter machine.
It is possible to pass the test at the police station, but if the readings are above the statutory limit the police will charge you with drink driving. In most cases, you will be released from custody on a bail undertaking to appear at court at a later date. You should contact us as soon as you can in order that we can advise you before your court appearance.
In some drink driving cases, for example, if you have previous drink driving convictions or you are extremely drunk, you may be held in custody to appear in court. If this occurs you should ask the police to inform us of your detention in custody.
Driving while using a mobile phone
The offence of using a mobile telephone or another interactive communication device while driving a motor vehicle.
A device is defined as a device, other than a two-way radio, which performs an interactive communication function by transmitting and receiving data.
Interactive communication function includes the following:
- Sending or receiving oral or written messages
- Sending or receiving facsimile documents
- Sending or receiving still or moving pictures
- Providing access to the Internet
The use of a hands-free system can still result in a prosecution should there be evidence that the vehicle was not under proper control and the standard of driving fell short of what would be expected of a competent and careful driver (section 3 Road Traffic Act 1988)
Use of a device extends to situations when the vehicle is stationary e.g. waiting for lights to change at traffic lights or in a traffic jam. This means that an offence can be committed even if the vehicle is not moving.
Speeding (Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 (section 81 & 89)
Driving in excess of the speed limit and caught by a speed camera by the side of the road or by a police officer using speed measuring equipment may result in the following:
- You may be issued with a fixed penalty notice (3 penalty points and a fine) or
- You may be required to attend court.
Caught by a Speed Camera
The registered keeper will receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days and a Section 172 notice requiring him or her to confirm the details of the person driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.
You must respond to this notice within 28 days, failure to respond may result in a prosecution in terms of section 172 Road Traffic Act 1988.
Stopped by the Police when speeding
The police detect speeding offences with hand-held radar guns or calibrated speedometers. The police may simply issue with a fixed penalty and three penalty points
If stopped by the police there are no requirements to issue a Notice of Intention to Prosecute or a Section 172 notice. Court papers must be served on an accused within 6 months of the alleged offence failing which the prosecution may be time-barred.
Driving without Insurance (Section 143 Road Traffic Act 1988)
A person must not use a motor vehicle on a road or other public place unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person such a policy of insurance.
Section 143 (3) provides defences to the charge e.g. using the vehicle in the course of his employment (company vehicle) or that he neither knew or had reason to believe that there was not in force in relation to the vehicle such a policy of insurance.
S 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is a strict liability offence which essentially means that the vehicle must be insured and unless the circumstances fall within section 143(3).
There may be special reasons which can be argued in some exceptional cases. The strict liability that applies may result in certain circumstances where you are legally guilty, but it could be argued that there are special reasons for not disqualifying you or even putting points on your licence. e.g.
- If the insurance provider cancelled your insurance policy without informing you.
- Or it was your insurance company’s fault that no policy was in force.
- If you are told by the owner of the vehicle or policyholder that you can drive the vehicle legally because it is insured for you to drive.
- If you have a genuine belief that you were insured even if it turned you were not.