This was a complicated case and involved 2 separate offences, both of which had come before the courts and had resulted in two sets of 6 penalty points being endorsed upon the client’s previously unblemished driving record which had resulted in the client being disqualified in her absence.
The lady concerned had had genuine problems with delivery of her post at her home ( a matter which she is still attempting to resolve with the post office ).
The client’s first case involved a motor vehicle which she had sold some months before the alleged offence. The vehicle had gone through a speed camera in the Wakefield area. For reasons which we were unable to resolve, the vehicle had remained registered to the client and due to the fact that she had not received any paperwork, the client had been convicted in absence not for the speeding offence but for the offence of failing to give information of the drivers identity as required. This has resulted in the client being convicted and having 6 penalty points endorsed upon her driving record.
The second offence was of driving without insurance. The client had been with the same insurance brokers for over 10 years who sent her a reminder annually to enable the client to renew her insurance. Her premiums were paid by monthly standing order. The client had not received the renewal notice so therefore failed to renew her insurance. The police stopped the client one evening on her way home from work and fortunately the sympathetic police officers did not impound her motor vehicle and allowed the client to drive home in order to check her insurance documentation. The documents revealed that the client had no insurance as she had failed to renew. The client immediately arranged a completely new policy of insurance via the internet late that night. Driving without insurance carries between 6 and 8 penalty points. The client was offered a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points which she initially accepted. The client paid the £300 but subsequently the Central Process Unit could not accept the fixed penalty because unbeknown to her she already had 6 penalty points on her driving record from the Wakefield offence. Just to make matters a little more complicated the £300 fixed penalty the client had paid was paid back into her account but the bank statement for that particular month was not delivered due to the postal problem. The client was subsequently convicted in her absence and disqualified. It was only when she was contacted by the bailiffs that the client discovered that she owed a huge amount in financial penalties and had been disqualified from driving.
The Wakefield matter was resolved relatively easily. We set aside the conviction and then entered a not guilty plea. The prosecution considered the representation that we made and they offered no evidence in relation to that particular offence.
That left our client having to resolve the no insurance matter. The client was clearly guilty because she had failed to renew her insurance. I took the view that we might be able to argue Special Reasons. Special Reasons in this case essentially meant that I was seeking to persuade the court that Special Reasons applied which would enable the court not to impose any penalty points.
For a Special Reasons argument to succeed, a court would have to be satisfied that there are extenuating and mitigating circumstances but it must relate to the facts of the offence and be a circumstance in which the court can properly take into account. In this particular case, whilst the client’s previous unblemished driving record of over 20 years should not necessarily have been a factor, I believe it may well have been something the court took into account. I successfully argued that there was an honest and genuine belief on the client’s part that she had been covered by insurance. Rightly or wrongly the court accepted there were Special Reasons and therefore although the client was guilty of the no insurance offence, the court enforced an absolute discharge with no order to costs and no penalty points.
Essentially all the financial penalties which would have amounted to over £1000 had been wiped out and the client retained her clean driving record. Although the client had to pay our firm for the work that our Geoffrey Ireland, Partner and Head of the Criminal Department had carried out as Legal Aid is not available in a case such as this. I am sure that the client would agree that it was money well spent.
If you find yourself facing a motoring offence, it is advisable that you seek our advice and although we charge out our time on an hourly basis, we are usually prepared to consider a fixed fee by negotiation.