At Motoring Defence Solicitors we provide completely free advice to motorists who find themselves in a quandary. Below are some frequently asked questions that you may find useful in future:
FAQ: I want to plead not guilty; will I be able to keep driving?
The primary reason motorists come to us at Motoring Defence Solicitors if they need a motor lawyer is because they want to keep hold of their licence for as long as possible. It is therefore unsurprising that when a motorist wants to plead not guilty and take their case to trial, they are concerned about any immediate implications of their decision.
In short, you can continue driving for as long as your case is ongoing (right up until if/when you lose your licence at a sentencing hearing) unless the court makes an order to the contrary. The court do have the power to impose interim disqualifications whilst a case is pending but this would usually only be implemented against drivers who pose an immediate danger to the public.
FAQ: “I need my car for work, will the court still disqualify me?”
For many of our clients, driving is part of their employment and how they earn a living so it is comforting to know that they can continue to work throughout the duration of their case.
If you have been charged with any of the following offences:
1. Drink driving
2. Drug driving
3. Failing to provide a specimen
4. Dangerous Driving
5. Driving whilst unfit
The short answer to this is yes.
These all carry a mandatory disqualification of at least 12 months. This means that, irrespective of personal circumstances, the court must impose the minimum term of disqualification unless special reasons apply.
FAQ: Can I get Legal Aid for my Case?
ADVISORY NOTE : Our specialist motor law team does not accept cases that are legally aided due to the restrictions a publicly funded case carries with it. Due to the specialist nature of motor law there are typically expert witnesses and barristers that need to be instructed to help ensure a successful result. The experts and barrister we use (who are widely regarded as the leading experts in their field) do not take cases that are legally aided. Not being able to instruct the right expert or barrister seriously reduces your chance of success and we would strongly recommend that you pay for your case privately or via an insurance policy if possible. If you cannot fund your case privately we would refer you to our general crime team for advice.
Being charged with a criminal offence is worrying enough but the potential cost of defending yourself can be an even more daunting prospect.
Legal Aid is widely available in a range of different areas of law and it is in place to help you meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or at a tribunal.
However if you are charged with a motoring offence such drink driving and need the help of a drink driving lawyer then public funding is much more difficult to obtain. In order to qualify for legal aid in any type of case you need to show that:
Your case is eligible for public funding;
The problem is “serious”; and
You cannot afford the costs yourself.
When it comes to motor law however the criteria is slightly more strict due to the volume of motorists claiming legal aid cost the public purse millions of pounds a year.
There are two tests that the court applies before granting legal aid; the financial means test and the interests of justice test.
Financial Means Test
A means test will be carried out that examines your gross annual income and will also take into account your personal family circumstances. In its simplest terms: if you are on a low income below the lowest threshold you will pass the financial means test. The test looks at the income of relatives and other sources in addition to your own so it is not always safe to assume you as an individual will pass the means test because you have a low income.
If you have an income above the maximum threshold you will fail and not qualify for legal aid. If your income is in-between the lowest threshold and the highest threshold a more detailed means test will be carried out to determine your eligibility.
A full means test will examine your finances more closely to determine your disposable income and assess your ability to pay.
If you are on state benefits it is likely you will pass the financial means test and may automatically qualify for legal aid.
Passing the means test is the first step in qualifying for legal aid. The second step is….
The Interests of Justice Test
Also known as the “test of merit”, the ‘The Interests of Justice Test’ is applied to your specific case and its circumstances. You may be able to pass the interests of justice test if it is likely:
you will receive a custodial sentence and go to prison as a result of being convicted
you will lose your job/livelihood as a result of being convicted
that your reputation will be greatly damaged as a result of being convicted
you will have substantial difficulties following the court proceedings due to language barriers or mental health problems
As a general rule for motor law cases, if you do not satisfy the first criteria under the Interests of justice test it will make securing legal aid much more difficult.