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>>Driving Offences
Driving Offences2019-04-25T10:37:32+01:00

Driving Offences

Convictions of minor to major driving offences can seriously affect your freedom

This is an area of the law that is highly technical – and has quite a few loopholes – so it is best to consult an expert before you make any decision about how you will respond to a notice of intended prosecution or a court summons.

We are regularly instructed by private individuals and insurance companies to advise and represent clients on:

  • Speeding
  • Drink driving
  • Driving whilst impaired through drugs
  • Failing to provide a specimen for analysis (refusing)
  • Dangerous and careless driving
  • Causing death and serious injury by driving

Many people have their only brush with the law when they are pulled over by the police, or spoken to after a road traffic accident. Road traffic law is notoriously complex, and instructing a specialist lawyer is vitally important to represent you from the beginning to help dramatically improve your chances of being found not-guilty or avoiding disqualification.

Our specialist solicitors have a proven track record of success with driving offences and know exactly how to prepare your defence to give you the best chance of winning your case. Often, medical evidence or reports by expert witnesses will be required, and we know who the best ones are.

Being asked to use a breathalyser at the roadside or at the police station can be a nerve-wracking experience. The police will rarely be willing to wait for a solicitor to attend, and our clients have to make decisions themselves. You may try to blow, but for a variety of reasons, are unable to register a reading on the machine. You may blow a sample that is over the legal limit. If you instruct us to represent you, we will investigate the circumstances thoroughly and look at issues such as:

  • Did the police conduct the procedure correctly? Did they give you the requirement and warnings as required by statute?
  • Is there a medical reason why you couldn’t provide a sample? An independent expert may be able to explain whether you have an underlying medical issue such as asthma which could make it difficult for you to provide a sufficient sample of breath.
  • Was the equipment properly calibrated and was it operating correctly?
  • Did you eat or drink anything after you stopped driving?
  • How long had it been since you drove?

We have dealt with a number of cases where our clients have been accused of driving whilst over the limit for illegal drugs, such as cocaine. It is a new and emerging area of law, and we can advise on potential defences, any weakness in the prosecution case and failure by police to comply with procedure. There are limited sentencing guidelines available to magistrates, and we would suggest that instructing a solicitor to represent you at any sentencing hearing is all the more important in a drug drive case to ensure that you walk out of court with the best possible outcome.

From the correct calibration and operation of the equipment itself to road markings, there are a number of ways to challenge speeding prosecutions. Our solicitors carefully scrutinise the prosecution evidence and, using years of experience and judgment calls, we will advise you on which areas could be ripe for challenge, and which would probably be a waste of money to investigate.

First hearing: fixed fee

We understand that our clients want as much certainty as possible about what their case is likely to cost. We therefore charge a fixed fee of £400.00 plus VAT to attend any of our local Courts in London and £300 plus VAT to appear at any of our local court outside London to represent you at a first hearing for any road traffic offence which can only be heard in the Magistrates’ Court (summary only offence). This fee will include a pre-hearing consultation with your solicitor at Court, who will fully advise you on all relevant issues before you go into Court. After court we will confirm the outcome of the hearing by letter but this will not include any detailed advice on appeal apart from setting out your legal rights to appeal the outcome. We define local courts as being within a 10 mile radius of any of our offices. In the event that you have a hearing which is further afield, we will be happy to assist, but this is likely to involve an additional fee to cover travel time at hourly rates, depending on the fee earner involved. In the event that your case is adjourned to another date for a sentence hearing, we will normally charge a fixed fee on the same basis, unless the case involves unusual complexity such as a special reasons hearing or exceptional hardship submissions. Where we have agreed a fixed fee it will be non-refundable once the work has commenced.

Hourly rates

Many of our clients request that we provide additional services, such as a pre-hearing meeting at one of our offices, or that a particular solicitor deals with their case. We will always try and accommodate such requests, and these will normally be charged at standard hourly rates which are detailed below depending on the location of the office dealing with the case and the experience of the solicitor involved:

Senior Solicitor (over 8yrs experience)          £400 per hour (EC1/City) £260 per hour (South London/South East) £200 per hour (National Non-London/South East)

Solicitor (4-7yrs experience, qualified) £290 per hour (EC1/City) £235 per hour (South London/Kent) £175 per hour (National Non-London/South East)

Junior Solicitor (0-3yrs experience, qualified) £220 per hour (EC1/City) £180 per hour (South London/Kent) £150 per hour (National Non-London/South East)

Clerk/Paralegal £150 per hour (EC1/City) £125 per hour (South London/Kent) £100 per hour (National Non-London/South East)

Trials and other contested matters

Our solicitors have a large amount of experience in dealing with summary trials involving motoring offences. In addition, we are also frequently instructed to advise clients on other contested matters such as special reasons or exceptional hardship.

Every case is different so it is impossible to provide an accurate estimate of our costs in every scenario, however the example case belowgives a general guide about the likely costs in this sort of case. Summary trials will normally take between 1 – 3 months between the first hearing and trial, although this can vary. It is important to note that the complexity of the case and the experience of the solicitor instructed will affect our quote. Furthermore, in some cases additional work may be required such as attending the scene, instructing experts or seeing additional witnesses of fact or speaking to character witnesses which will add to the costs of a particular case.

The following example is a guideline case only – it may be that your case is less (or more) complex – so it is always better to discuss options with one of our lawyers directly as we may be able to agree a lesser fee.

We may also agree to allow payment to be made in stages as the case progresses.

Pre-trial work

(example one witness case prepared by a paralegal/clerk at £150.00 per hour with a junior solicitor at £180.00 per hour) Considering Prosecution evidence (approx. 50 pages) – 2 hours Attendance on you in our office prior to trial to take full instructions and advising – 3 hours Drafting proof of evidence – 1 hour Routine calls and letters – 2 hour

Prep in Office: hours 8 hours at £150 PH = £1200.00

Trial

(conducted by a junior solicitor at £180.00 per hour)

Prep for trial – 2 hours Advocacy – 3 hours Attendance on client and CPS – 1 hour

Travel/Waiting – 2 hours

Advocate’s time at Trial: 8 hours = £1,440.00

TOTAL: £2,640.00 plus VAT at 20% = £3,168.00

Disbursements

In many road traffic cases, we will advise our clients that they should consider obtaining expert reports to assist their defence case. For instance, in proceedings relating to an allegation of failing to provide a specimen of breath for analysis, it may be necessary to instruct an expert to provide an opinion as to whether there is a medical reason why a specimen of breath could not be provided. Where a report is obtained, the cost of this report will be charged separately and in addition to our costs and in most cases will also be subject to VAT.

It is to be noted that additional disbursements will normally be charged for the reasonable travel expenses of the solicitor attending court to represent you at any hearing.

We are always happy to discuss our costs and we will often be prepared to agree either a fee cap or a fixed fee for certain pieces of work, to provide certainty about costs.

You should always check whether you have insurance that may cover or contribute to the cost of your legal fees.

If you have applied for legal aid and it was refused you may be able to get some of your private costs back at legal aid rates if you are successful or partially successful. We can assist you in making a defence cost order application for a modest fee.

If you would like to discuss your case further, please contact a member of our team on 0208 299 6000 or email us using the contact button on

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GT Stewart has established itself as a leading firm in the UK for criminal, housing, mental health and family law, specialising in private cases and also Legal Aid work.

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We are known for our tenacity when representing those engaged in challenging the State or defending themselves against a prosecution.

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