As Motoring law specialists, we are frequently contacted by drivers who have been summoned to court for failing to identify the driver following a NIP being sent to the registered keeper’s address. This is often the first time they have heard about the matter as they never received the NIP.
After a motoring allegation has come to light (such as speeding or running a red light) the police contact the DVLA and establish who the registered keeper was and their current address. They send a NIP to the keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence and the keeper has 28 days to complete and sign the form and return to police.. Failure to do so is an offence contrary to S172 of the Road Traffic Act which carries 6 penalty points, a fine and court costs.
So if you didn’t receive the NIP in the first place then you can’t be guilty of the offence can you? Unfortunately it isn’t quite that simple.
The Road Traffic Act provides that the person who is served with a NIP and fails to provide the required information within the requisite time frame is guilty of the offence (unless he can avail himself of a statutory defence).
What does the term ‘served’ mean?
The notion of when the NIP is served relies on the postal system. The police will usually send the NIP first or second class to the keeper’s address i.e. the address that the keeper has told the DVLA he lives at. The NIP is treated as being properly served on the day it would then arrive at that address in the course of the ordinary post.
However, this service is rebuttable by the defendant i.e. they can give evidence on oath that the NIP didn’t arrive at the address that the DVLA had for them and if that is accepted by the court that will be the end of the matter and he/she will be found not guilty. However, if the NIP is properly ‘served’, the only statutory defences open to the defendant are that the owner gave the information as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that period or that it has not been reasonably practicable for him to give it. In previous cases this defence has been used where there is more than one user of the vehicle and the registered keeper has been unable to ascertain with due diligence, who was actually driving the vehile at the relevant time.
Case Study – Krishevsky V DPP
In the recent High Court case Krishevsky V DPP the court emphasises that the key distinction here is not whether the defendant received the NIP but whether it was properly served and that service is not rebutted. Service of a reminder notice in the absence of service of the original NIP is not sufficient for a conviction. Only in a case where service of the NIP is not rebutted would the court need to consider the statutory defences.
So if the driver didn’t receive the NIP because it never arrived at their address, as Motoring lawyers we can argue that there was no service and that the case should be dismissed. If the NIP did arrive at the address but the owner couldn’t establish who was driving the vehicle at the relevant time or have only been able to establish that after the time limit, there is a defence that and a real prospect of success at court.
At Just Motor Law, we have vast experience in advising on all types of driving offences. If you need legal advice, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form.
Reports from a leading motoring organisation show car insurance premiums are set to rise yet again.
The reports show the coming rise in premiums can be attributed to the failure of reforms put in place by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, which failed to have an impact on the high number of fraudulent claims filed by UK motorists.
The AA recently released a report which showed the average insurance quote in the first three months of this year was more than £100 cheaper than during the same period in 2013. This fall in price can be attributed to insurers competing for business as they anticipated the effects of new measures to combat phoney whiplash claims, and other motor insurance scams, the AA said.
However the report predicted premiums will soon go into reverse, lumping motorists with sharp premium rises from July onwards.
Ian Crowther, a spokesman for the AA, said: “Our best guess is they will level off in the current quarter and start to rise in the third quarter. They could start to rise quite steeply.
“It’s great for the consumer at the moment. But insurers are saying this can’t go on, and that it is utter madness.”
Young drivers, who have to pay the most for comprehensive insurance, enjoyed the biggest dips in premiums in the first part of this year, with falls of about 20 per cent for 17 to 29-year-olds.
Ian added: “The falls that we are experiencing at the moment have been going on for three years now, and the rate of fall has been accelerating.
“This was created mainly by the reforms that were proposed by the Ministry of Justice and insurers dropped premiums as they began to anticipate some return.
“However, that return has not been delivered. There is no evidence that this is delivering any significant reduction in the number and value of personal injury claims.”
The aforementioned reforms included the introduction of panels of accredited doctors to assess whiplash claims, which are reported to be costing motorists up to £2 billion a year and adding an average of £90 to every care insurance premium.
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said: “We are turning the tide on the compensation culture and doing our bit to help drivers with the cost of running a car.
“We have made major law changes which have been a significant factor in these record falls in car insurance premiums. But we want to do more, and we are now going after the fraudsters who force up the costs for everyone else.”
For drivers who have narrowly avoided the revocation of their UK driver’s licence, they can also expect an increase in insurance premiums. As a result of totting up penalty points, the chance of losing their licence becomes a very real possibility, but with the help of an experience team of Motoring Solicitors such as Just Motor Law, they may be able to keep hold of their driver’s licence, based on the negative impact that losing their licence could have on them and those around them.
The penalty points however, remain in place, and will have a direct impact on the cost of their insurance until the points are eliminated.
For help avoiding the revocation of your driver’s licence, be sure to contact Just Motor Law today on 0845 415 4658.
At Just Motor Law we often speak to drivers who have been charged with failing to provide a specimen who inform us that they didn’t cooperate with the police because they hadn’t been driving nor had they been intending to drive.
This does not provide them with a defence for not providing a specimen of breath, urine or blood. As long as the police officer made the arrest in good faith because he believed that an offence of drink driving or being drunk in charge had taken place, it doesn’t matter that the police were mistaken about whether you had actually been driving.
The law still penalises you if you do not provide the sample when requested. If the failure to provide a sample follows an arrest for being in charge of a vehicle then the court can sentence you to either 10 points or a discretionary disqualification. If the failure to provide a specimen follows an arrest for an allegation of drink driving (driving with excess alcohol), then after a guilty plea, the court have a power of mandatory disqualification from driving for a minimum of 12 months.
Does this seem grossly unfair if you were actually not driving nor was there any likelihood of you driving while over the legal limit? Unfortunately, there is no defence in such circumstances! However, our legal system generally does have the scope to deal with potential iniquities. This is where this particular special reasons argument comes in.
A special reason is in general terms, ‘a mitigating or extenuating factor, which relates to the circumstances of the offence, that a court should properly take account of when sentencing’. It cannot provide a defence of course, so in our situation the circumstances do not provide a defence in law. The fact that you were not driving or not attempting to or likely to drive can be taken on board by the court at the point of sentence. If the court accepts your argument, then it can decide not to disqualify you from driving or decide not to endorse penalty points on your licence.
This particular thread of special reasons argument was established in two cases in the High Court in the 1980’s and is one that the courts are generally unfamiliar with. Indeed, this is an argument that many solicitors are unfamiliar with! At Just Motor Law it’s always extremely rewarding to root out obscure case law that can make all the difference in a case.
Just Motor Law is experienced in winning cases of this kind and should you find yourself in a similar predicament then our team of experts will be happy to advise you on your options. It is important that you are not prejudiced by the magistrates being unaware of this little known special reasons argument that could actually save your driving licence.
Exceptional hardship is a legal argument used when a motorist incurs 12 or more penalty points on their driving licence. 12 or more points on a driving licence results in the motorist being disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months and so a successful exceptional hardship argument avoids the disqualification altogether or significantly reduces the period.
There are no set reasons on what exceptional hardship actually is and so every case is considered on its own merits.
The reasons used to make the legal argument need to be something out of the ordinary and often something which results in other people being affected rather than just the motorist themselves.
Examples of reasons used in court might be cases when you need your licence for your employment, you care for an elderly or disabled relative that depends on you to get them around or you are disabled yourself and need your licence to get yourself around, the list goes on.
The most often argued reason would be loss of livelihood in situations when the motorist would lose their employment or business if they were to lose their driving licence. This said, loss of livelihood does not automatically guarantee a successful exceptional hardship argument!
To be successful in arguing loss of livelihood for exceptional hardship you need to be able to show that loss of your employment or business will impact on others as a result. For example, if you are a self-employed plumber who needs your driving licence to travel to your jobs; the loss of your driving licence would mean you could no longer earn a living. This reason alone would not be sufficient to argue exceptional hardship although if losing your licence means you have no income you would then be unable to provide for your family or pay your rent or mortgage, the argument is likely to be more successful.
You should not assume that you have exceptional hardship simply because loss of your licence would be a massive inconvenience as for most of us it would be an inconvenience. Exceptional hardship is a complex legal argument that needs to be carefully prepared and submitted in such a way to the court that only a specialist lawyer could do.
Every single case is different to the next and so when a motorist finds themselves in such an unfortunate position they should immediately discuss their case with a specialist motoring lawyer. The lawyer would then assess the situation and advise on whether it is an argument that can be run with. You may have a good case but speak to the experts first!
Driving under the influence of alcohol continues to be a huge concern in the UK. While collision statistics tend to fluctuate year-on-year, it’s fair to say that there are always campaigns running to raise awareness of the dangers to try and reduce the amount of people who are getting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.
This video from Sixt car hire does just that, but takes a new approach to spreading the message.
‘Cocktail for Disaster’ uses a style that creates a memorable and hard-hitting message.
Using familiar cocktail names to introduce several characters and elements in the piece, this video makes a sudden transition between being seemingly cool and stylish, to showing the tragedy and emotional torment easily caused by drink driving.
‘Cocktail for Disaster’ portrays the tragedy of a man that makes a poor decision, and as a consequence leaves a trail of devastation in his wake.
The key message for the viewer is that it is impossible to determine the specific amount of alcohol it will take to put someone over the legal limit. The best approach to keeping yourself and others safe on the road is to not drink any alcohol at all.
Help spread awareness of the dangers of drink driving and share this thought-provoking video with friends and family.
If you have been accused of a drink driving offence and require some professional help, get in touch with one of our experts using our contact form at the top of this page.
Exceptional hardship is a legal argument that can be submitted to the court to avoid a disqualification from driving when a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points on their driving licences.
Legislation stipulates that if a driver does acquire 12 or more penalty points they should be disqualified from driving for a minimum period of 6 months.
Under these provisions exceptional hardship can be argued, which if successful can result in a reduction of the 6 month disqualification or no disqualification at all.
Defining the word ‘exceptional’ is vital to any case, as just simply pleading ‘hardship’ would not be enough. Most people will suffer some kind of hardship when losing their driving licence although this is the aim of the legislation. What is not the aim of the legislation is when ‘exceptional hardship’ would be caused.
To be exceptional, the hardship to be suffered must be something out of the ordinary. For example, in the case of Brennan v McKay (1996) a taxi driver accumulated 12 points and argued that if he were to lose his licence he may lose his job and suffer financial difficulty. Although the court accepted the fact that the taxi driver would suffer hardship, they did not accept that the hardship would be exceptional and he was still disqualified for 6 months.
However, had the driver been able to prove is was the sole financial provider to his family and if he were to be disqualified it would have an effect on his mortgage repayments and risk losing his home, meaning his family would suffer from the consequences then the case would have been deemed exceptional by the Court.
The distinction between ‘hardship’ and ‘exceptional hardship’ is very important and one which needs to be determined well in advance of submitting any argument to the court by a motoring legal expert.
As there is no set list of what is exceptional, the lawyer at court can argue whatever case they wish in an effort to persuade the Magistrates that the hardship to be suffered would be exceptional and it will be for the Magistrates Court to assess every case on its own merits.
This said, if not just you but others around you and who depend on you either financially or to assist them in getting around would be affected by the disqualification, this may be good starting point.
The lawyer representing at court would prepare and present the case in such a way as to show that exceptional hardship would in fact be caused. It would then be for the Magistrates to make their decision.
Anybody who would be affected by a disqualification should consult a specialist lawyer to see whether they have any grounds to argue exceptional hardship. This can be a complex area of law and one where a driver has one opportunity to make their case. To ensure your case is professionally prepared from the outset to give you the very best possible chance of being successful, always contact a specialist motoring expert.
A driving ban arises as a result of motorists being convicted of a driving offence and varies in terms of length depending on the severity. A ban can be imposed via two avenues as follows:
When people find themselves in one of these situations it is important to explore the options available in an effort to establish what they need to do as attending court for most will be unfamiliar experience.
If you find yourself in the situation of facing a driving ban, consider the following three step process.
Establish why you are being disqualified. Is it as a result of accumulating 12 points or is it because the offence is so serious the court will first consider a disqualification?
The best way to establish this is to review the Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines for the offence in question. These guidelines are provided in a simple and comprehensive table format which outline each offence and the likely penalty.
If the penalty is accumulation of points you will need to check whether the amount of points to be imposed would take you to 12 or more points in total with any existing points on your licence.
If the penalty is a period of disqualification or penalty points, you may be able to avoid the disqualification.
If you are looking at a ban, whatever the avenue has taken you there, you need to consider whether your day-to-day life will be affected in the absence of your licence.
If the answer is yes then you need to find a specialist motoring lawyer to help prepare your case. There are ways of avoiding a ban altogether or reducing the period although in order to be successful in doing this, your case will need to be carefully prepared and presented to the court.
Once you have established that your case requires a specialist motoring lawyer they will consider all your circumstances in great detail and prepare your case for court. They will also advise you on the strengths of your case and on how best to argue your case. Advice on what information and documentation you will need to obtain in order to help your case would also be provided.
In May 2013, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced new penalties for careless and inconsiderate driving. The changes were implemented to give the power to the police to issue fixed penalty notices for careless and inconsiderate driving, giving them more options for dealing with less serious driving offences like tailgating or middle lane hogging.
The implication was that the police would be more likely to tackle less serious incidents of bad driving if they didn’t have to go through the time intensive process of instituting court proceedings. This also meant that the police could also offer the safe driving courses as an alternative to penalty points and a fine. It only took a cursory reading of online forums to discover that many drivers considered that the changes were motivated by money making and just another example of the state cracking down further on our personal freedoms.
However, Department for Transport figures had indicated that careless, reckless or hurried driving had been recorded as a contributory factor in nearly 1/5 of all road traffic accidents and a failure to keep a proper look out was the most-reported contributory factor. It would appear entirely reasonable that the government had to do something to try and deal with poor driving and its consequences. Remember the people who decried the introduction of compulsory wearing of seatbelts? 30 years on from the introduction of the seatbelt laws and vehicle deaths are at an all time low. In our view this is no coincidence and cannot be explained simply by the advances of vehicle safety technology, given that there are now 19 million more vehicles on the road than when the seatbelt laws came in.
At Just Motor Law we accept that laws, regulations and police powers (when used correctly!) are necessary to protect us all as we venture onto Britain’s roads. If you believe you have done nothing wrong then you can reject the fixed penalty and still have your day in court and we will be happy to advise you on your options if you find yourself in that position.
It’s now 8 months since the police were given those new powers and Just Motor Law understand that over 5000 drivers have been dealt with by way of the new fixed penalties or driving improvement courses. We hope that in due course this will have an impact on accident rates but only time will tell. We are particularly pleased that more drivers are being offered courses in lieu of points, following incidents of careless or inconsiderate driving. This will hopefully achieve two outcomes – firstly, a reduction in the perception that motoring laws are all about making money for the state through fixed penalties – an unhelpful perception as it takes the focus away from concentrating on the real importance of safe driving. Secondly, that drivers who undertake these courses will come away as considerate, careful, sociable road users that are less likely to contribute to accidents.
Show consideration for other drivers on the roads as you do as a pedestrian and keep your distance, as a minute of impatience behind the wheel could cost you your licence!
Recent research conducted by Direct Line (Insurance Company) and Brake (Road Safety Charity), revealed that almost 50 per cent of motorists who accumulate 12 points on their licence escape a driving ban after pleading exceptional hardship in court.
At the time of research there were 10,072 motorists in the UK with 12 points or more who had not lost their licences and were continuing to drive. An additional 13,499 motorists, also with 12 points or more, had been banned and in the correct circumstances a plea of exceptional hardship can be won .
If you want the Court to allow you to keep your licence you will need to prove that the hardship you would suffer in losing it is extraordinary in that it would have a negative impact on your day-to-day life significantly such as inability to get to work or unable to fulfil any care responsibilities. In the absence of such proof a disqualification may still be given. One recent case, involving a taxi driver who had been convicted of speeding and had accumulated 12 points on his licence, argued the fact that if he lost his licence it was likely he would lose his job and suffer difficulty with his finances.
Whilst it was accepted by the Court that he would suffer hardship, such hardship was not deemed to be exceptional and the Court and imposed a mandatory disqualification.
However, had the taxi driver submitted that as a result of losing his job, he would not be able to meet his mortgage payments, face bankruptcy and be unable to drive his elderly mother to hospital on a regular basis, the outcome may have been quite different. The Courts are reluctant to impose a driving ban when there is a real possibility that it will impact adversely on other people. An exceptional hardship argument can be won or lost on the basis of this important factor.
The procedure for making an exceptional hardship argument would involve the court first being notified that such an argument was to be made and then an advocate would be expected to present the evidence in support of the argument in their submissions. The defendant is then asked on oath to confirm the truth of those submissions. Should the prosecution desire, the defendant can be cross examined by the Crown.
No matter the scenario, the presentation of comprehensive evidence of exceptional hardship is vitally important.
You should instruct a specialist motoring offence solicitor from the outset who will be able to advise on whether there is any circumstances on which you could base an argument of exceptional hardship and potentially protect your licence.
At Just Motor Law, we have vast expertise of helping our clients keep their driving licence. If you are facing a ban and your day-to-day life will suffer as a result, contact us today on 0845 485 1228 or use our contact form – let us help you to stay on the road.