Ask Hammond Trotter: Courts and Sentencing

Many of our clients are unsure of the process if they have to go to court, or how sentencing works.

At Hammond Trotter we aim to make the driving defence process as simple as possible and so here Phillip explains the role of the courts in driving offence cases.

Obviously every case is different, so we’d always recommend seeking further advice from a professional, specialist driving solicitor. Feel free to contact us for more information on 0161 839 5117 or via our contact form.

What is Exceptional Hardship?

One of the defences a driving solicitor might use is exceptional hardship, and you may have heard this phrase used or seen it on driving offence websites. Here one of our specialist motoring solicitors, Phillip Trotter explains exceptional hardship.

Shocking drink driving stats revealed in recent survey

Insurance Revolution has commissioned a survey of 2,000 drivers in the UK and have discovered that an astounding 1 in 5 people admit to being likely to drink and drive this Christmas. Not only this, 55.1% of British people are aware of someone who has previously driven whilst they are over the legal alcohol limit during the Christmas period. The findings also indicate that men are more likely to drink and drive at Christmas with 1 in 4 men admitting to the offence in comparison to 1 in 7 women.

It seems that despite what we have perceived to be an increase in alcohol and drink driving awareness campaigns, people are still happy to take the risk of personal injury, causing injury to others, facing a large fine, possible imprisonment or losing their licence. Drink driving is an offence that is taken seriously by the Courts and being accused of such an offence is a distressing and potentially life changing experience.

The study finds that young people age 18-34 are the most likely to drink and drive, with 30% admitting that they are likely to do so at some point over the approaching Christmas period.

Worryingly, when respondents were asked about what they believed the legal alcohol limit to be when driving, 65.8% of people had no idea. Almost exactly the same amount of people (62.10%), think that the legal limit in England should be zero. This implies that despite the lack of knowledge, people would like to see a zero tolerance policy to avoid people making mistakes behind the wheel.

This study indicates a level of confusion and two things in particular; a lack of knowledge and awareness about drink driving in general, and a trend for getting behind the wheel of a vehicle and driving whilst under the influence of alcohol at Christmas time.

This culture of festive drink driving highlights a need for an effective national Christmas anti drink driving campaign and improved education. Lack of clarity and understanding about legal drink drive alcohol limits can ruin lives, if you have found yourself in trouble with the law following a charge of driving under the influence, contact us and we can put our specialist knowledge and experience into practice and start to help you straight away. Also, call us if you need any further information regarding drink driving and the law, we are happy to help.

Ask Hammond Trotter: Getting 12 points on my licence

Martin from Hammond Trotter Solicitors explains what you should do if you’ve just been caught speeding, and how you can prepare for court if you’ve reached 12 points on your licence.

Call us our Manchester offices on 0161 839 5117 or the London office on 0207 903 5144 if you need further advice on the Drink-Driving process.

Keep an eye on our YouTube channel for more Ask Hammond updates.

Ask Hammond Trotter: Drink-Driving Process

Philip from Hammond Trotter Solicitors answers some very important questions when it comes to drink-driving:

What happens when you get pulled over for drink driving?
What happens if you get taken to the police station?
What happens if you get charged?

Call us our Manchester offices on 0161 839 5117 or the London office on 0207 903 5144 if you need further advice on the Drink-Driving process.

Keep an eye on our YouTube channel for more Ask Hammond updates.

Drink Driving Grandmother in Court over Driving Rampage through Village

The residents of sleepy village, Lambourn, in Berkshire watched on disbelieving this August (10/08/2014) as an elderly lady careered past homes whilst her car almost disintegrated entirely around her, Newbury magistrates heard.

The court was told how the 63 year old grandmother was finally blocked in by shocked fellow motorists after a terrifying journey through villages in which tyres shredded and smoke and sparks flew from the engine. Village roads were considerably damaged by metal wheel rims and other drivers narrowly escaped injury, fortunately.

Gail Patricia Clements speeded past residents homes in first gear and brought them running from their homes, the court heard in a hearing yesterday (Wednesday 15 October). Earlier on, cars swerved as she hurtled towards them on the wrong side of the road. But perhaps worst of all, said prosecutor, Helen Waite, was that when Mrs Clements’ rampage finally ended, “two small children got out of the car after her.”

Witness Michelle Darling gave a vivid account of the events when she first noticed the blue Vauxhall Astra near the Red Lion pub in Baydon. As it careered towards Lambourn village, she said: “The car was all over the road, first swerving over the white line, then entirely on the wrong side of the road. It would almost stop, and then speed up, all the time swaying into oncoming traffic. The tyres were completely flat!” she added. The witness continued to explain that the Astra drove right into the path of an oncoming vehicle then at the last minute, marginally avoided a collision by drastically swerving back.

When the car finally came to a halt, residents blocked it in before it could speed off again and an off-duty police officer apprehended Mrs Clements. Ms Waite said witnesses were then speechless and incredibly disturbed to see two small children climb out of the car after their grandmother.

Subsequent tests showed 114mcg of alcohol per 100ml of breath in her system – more than three times the legal limit of 35mcg. Magistrates told Mrs Clements the matter was so serious that she must be sentenced by a Crown Court judge. Clements has been bailed in the meantime and an interim driving ban has been imposed.

Martin Hammond, from Hammond Trotter solicitors says: “Being charged with a driving offence can be an incredibly distressing experience, and you will need the best possible legal help at Court. Sometimes a case has no defences but good mitigation can make the difference between a prison sentence and less onerous punishments. Having the Court understand why a specific set of circumstances occurred can make a real difference.”

Here at Hammond Trotter, if you are involved in a similar situation and the court is considering awarding penalty points or a driving ban, be assured that we will always be on hand to ensure the result is fair and investigated in tremendous detail. Call us our Manchester offices on 0161 839 5117 or the London office on 0207 903 5144 and put your mind at ease.

Crackdown on motorists who dice with death by misusing rail crossings

Motorists who misuse railway crossing guidelines are being targeted by British Transport Police in a major week-long clampdown in partnership with Network Rail which launched this Monday. (29 September).

British Transport Police, who deal with these incidents on a daily basis, will be working with staff from Network Rail to carry out extra patrols across the UK in an initiative called Operation Look. Officers will talk to drivers about the dangers of misusing rail crossings and will also visit schools, youth clubs and local businesses to raise awareness of the seriousness of the issue.

Between April last year and March this year, a total of 732 UK motorists were charged or called upon for crossing misuse. A further 740 were issued with fixed penalty notices, 102 cautioned for traffic offences and 2,125 were sent on safety-awareness courses.

Martin Hammond, Partner at Hammond Trotter says: “Level crossings were built decades before our roads and railways became as busy as they are today, and so we all have to deal with their legacy. We understand that waiting at a level crossing can be frustrating, but motorists who decide to jump the lights or try and weave around a barrier for the sake of a few minutes, are open to substantial fines and points on their license and at worst, risk their lives.”
Unfortunately, decisions made in the heat of the moment can’t be taken back, but we are on hand to expertly advise you in your specific case. If you are accused of driving without due care and attention at a level crossing, the help of proficient solicitors will at best, result in a not guilty outcome, but should at least result in giving you a fair result when dealing with these serious charges.

Some 800 cumbersome level crossings have been closed in the UK in the last four years, but there are still more than 6,000 crossings on the rail network, so in the meantime, stay alert, stay safe, but remember we’re here if needs must.

Call us and put your mind at ease.

Safer Driving Infographic

You know you should drive carefully, but did you know how good it can be for your pocket too?

It’s a given that safe driving within speed limits reduces accidents, but speeding and erratic driving can also incur huge costs for you in terms of insurance, repairs and the inconvenience of time spent without a car.

Take a look at our infographic filled with tips to help you save and drive safe:

Safer Driving Infographic_v2

Drink-Driving Clampdown and Licensing Hour Changes in Jersey

New proposals put forward in Jersey’s Alcohol and Licensing Strategy suggest a need for increased drink-driving restrictions as well as the introduction of staggered licensing hours. The authorities are deeply concerned about the alcohol consumption of Jersey’s citizens and feel that limitations urgently need to be introduced.

200 people per year are being charged with being intoxicated whilst driving a vehicle, one alarming statistic states.
The report also included evidence that the UK Island experienced a higher level of alcohol-related hospital cases compared to their neighbours on the UK mainland. Jersey’s authorities are also set to look in to alcohol abuse by underage drinkers.

Concern for Public Safety

The policy in question published by the Council of Ministers, said the inhabitants (circa 99,000) drank approximately the equivalent of 130 bottles of wine per person per year. The report also stated that in 2010 there was a rate of 2,065 per 100,000 admissions to Jersey General Hospital which were linked to alcohol, including drink-driving – at a predicted cost to the hospital of £2m per year. This was above the average rate of 1,898 per 100,000 in England, it said.

Lenient Drink-Driving Limits

In Jersey as in the UK, the maximum authorised level of alcohol in the blood when driving is 80mgs per 100mls of blood. In most other European countries, the limit is less, usually 50mg per 100ml of blood.

Martin Hammond, Hammond Trotter’s senior partner, said:

“The difference of 30mgs could be the difference between being in control, and stepping over the line of intoxication. A reduction to 50mg per 100ml of blood makes absolute sense. However, the often suggested, zero tolerance policies are fraught with danger. Most notable are the fact that there are lots of sources of small amounts of alcohol in our day to day lives and lots of substances that mimic the properties of alcohol on a testing device.

Jersey is a rural area and in our experience, drivers taking the drink-drive risk on empty roads is much higher than for drivers that live in busy cities or towns. If you live in rural country areas, never deem empty roads as safe after that extra drink, that one journey could cost you dearly.”

The expected date for the implementation of the law changes is between 2015 and 2016; however this is dependent on the findings of a detailed review looking at the proposed strategy.
At Hammond Trotter, we know that a conviction for drink driving can have a devastating effect upon your life, your work and your family.

If you are under threat of prosecution for drink driving, you need an experienced specialist to fight your corner. Our sole area of expertise is driver defence and we have dealt with every scenario imaginable in this area.

Keeping abreast of all the latest driving law changes such as in the legislation change in Jersey keeps us a step ahead of the rest. You’re in safe hands with us, and we will do our utmost to ensure that your case is dealt with efficiently and skilfully in expert hands.

Call us our Manchester offices on 0161 839 5117 or the London office on 0207 903 5144 and put your mind at ease.