I’ve Been Charged With A Driving Offence: What Do I Do?

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You might have been putting your foot down on the school run or taken that urgent call behind the wheel. It’s easy to get caught out when driving, but only some offences require a motoring solicitor. We’ve taken a closer look at different types of motoring offences and when you might need our team of specialist road traffic solicitors in your corner.

What are minor driving offences?

The vast majority of driving offences are dealt with through endorsable and non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices. Basically, you’ll either receive a fine and points on your licence or just a fine, and you’re unlikely to need a solicitor.

For example, you received a parking fine or a low-level speeding ticket. You can choose to pay the fine and accept points on your licence. Otherwise, you’ll receive a court summons where you can challenge any charges.

Contact your motoring solicitor immediately for advice if you decide to go to court. You should also seek legal help if you’ve committed a “totting up” offence by accumulating too many low-level speeding points, and you can’t risk losing your licence because you drive for your job.

What are serious motoring offences?

Major motoring offences carry the most severe penalties, from points on your licence to a driving ban or prison sentence. For example, death by careless driving carries a possible five-year sentence, a twelve-month driving disqualification or up to 11 points on your licence.

Drink or drug driving is also considered a serious offence that could carry a prison sentence, disqualification from driving and a mandatory re-test. 

Excessive speeding, when you drive over 45% faster than the speed limit, is also likely to result in prosecution. Other serious offences include driving while disqualified and motor racing on the highway.

If you’ve committed a serious driving offence, then you’ll probably be issued with a NIP. In that case, get the advice of a specialist road traffic solicitor as soon as possible.

What do I do if I get sent a NIP?

If you’ve been caught committing a serious motoring offence, you’ll receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). A NIP police notice informs you that a driving offence has been recorded, and you could face prosecution. You’ll be expected to check the details before responding.

You could be issued a NIP for careless or dangerous driving, failure to stop at a traffic sign like a red light, or speeding. You should respond within 28 days, whether you were driving or are the registered keeper. If you don’t provide driver details within that time, you could be fined £1,000 and get six penalty points on your licence.

However, the police must issue a NIP within 14 days after the incident to give you enough time to respond. For example, suppose you drive a lease or company car. In that case, the police must inform the registered keeper, usually the leasing company. As long as the police can prove that they sent the notification within 14 days, they can prosecute.

Once you’ve returned the NIP, you’ll be notified of any penalty and given the option to go to court. Contact your motoring solicitor immediately so we have the best chance of assessing your case and chances of success.

What if the NIP was issued after 14 days?

Contact your road traffic solicitor if you have good reason to believe that your NIP was issued after the statutory 14-day period. 

You could avoid going to court and getting penalty points on your driving record. But you’ll need specialist advice, so pay attention to a NIP even if you think it’s outside the time limit. Unless you act fast, you could still be prosecuted.

Will I get a criminal record?

You’ll get a criminal record if you’re taken to court and convicted of a serious driving offence. You may need to disclose this information to employers and insurers or if you’re applying for a college course or on any visa application. However, your record will be wiped clean once the conviction is spent.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) covers criminal convictions, and motoring offences are usually spent after five years. However, any penalty points issued will stay on your DVLA driving record for either 4 or 11 years, dating from the time you committed the offence or when you were convicted. 

A criminal offence can have a devastating impact on every area of your life, so it’s worth contacting a motoring solicitor to help you avoid a negative outcome.

Save your licence with Road Traffic Defence

At Road Traffic Defence, our team of specialist traffic solicitors are here to help you take the proper steps to protect your licence. So if you’ve committed a driving offence and need legal advice, contact us today, and we can make the difference between conviction and acquittal.