I regularly stress the importance of engaging a lawyer to represent you if you happen to face prosecution for a motoring offence.
But to be honest, there are a few offences that probably usually do not warrant a solicitor’s involvement.
It can be simply uneconomical to pay for legal services to challenge a matter that involves a potential fine and no other penalty. That’s the reason for this.
So, when should you really represent yourself or simply stump up the cash? That depends on what kind of offence you are involved in.
When to engage a lawyer
There are four categories of motoring offences worth considering:
1. Fine only
2. Endorseable offences (those attracting penalty points)
3. Offences carrying a mandatory disqualification
4. Imprisonable offences
Without doubt, it is recommended to engage a lawyer if facing the possibility of a prison sentence, not least to ensure you be given a fair penalty if pleading guilty.
Where you are in danger of a driving disqualification or revocation, I would personally again propose that engaging a lawyer would be a sensible move.
When you ought to go it alone
Fixed-penalty-only offence, then my advice is to adopt a DIY stance, in case the offence is really a non-endorseable.
There are several offences attracting either a £50 or £100 fine but no penalty points. For example:
Failing to comply with box junction markings
If you are caught in the middle of a yellow box, then if you do not were moving into the box due to an emergency vehicle needing to pass, there isn’t much of a defence and you may be better off just paying up.
Motorway offences (including stopping a car on the hard shoulder)
Stopping on the hard shoulder of the motorway is reserved for temporary breakdowns and never to simply pull over and have a picnic.
Sounding your horn
Your horn is there to warn other road users of your presence but only while your car is moving. The Highway Code clearly states that you should never sound your horn aggressively. You must not make use of horn while stationary on the highway or when driving in the built-up area between the hours of 11.30pm and 7am, except when another vehicle poses a danger.
Failure to wear a seat belt while driving
Thankfully the habit of not wearing a seatbelt has become far less common than 30 years ago. I’m unsure if the creation of a fine is the thing that stamped this out or maybe the many video images of crash test dummies flying through the windscreen when not wearing a seatbelt. If you don’t buckle up these days, in either case, you really do have to be a dummy.
Opening your vehicle door in order to cause injury/danger
This is something that affects cyclists every year. In the event you, as a motorist, fail to make sure that blind spot when opening your car door, you could face a fine.
Driving a vehicle without having a valid MOT
Up from £60 previously should you be found to have been driving without a valid MOT you could face a set penalty fine of £100. The only defence available to the MOT offence is where you can prove you were driving to some pre-booked garage appointment to obtain your MOT done. And if you don’t have an updated MOT it could invalidate your car or truck insurance and that means you could arguably be accused of the a lot more serious offence of driving without insurance. The fixed penalty fine for driving without insurance is £300 and six points on your licence. Or you could be utilized to court for no insurance where penalty is six to eight points on your licence, a maximum £5,000 fine, and you could be disqualified from driving.
Matters of principle
My team and so i are always pleased to provide free initial advice to motorists facing prosecution for many motoring offences.
However, it really is highly likely we will counsel you to go it alone in the event the offence is punishable through a fine only.
That said, some clients wish to challenge an allegation no matter what the cost and benefit.
So, perhaps the best way of producing my point is with a saying famous in the legal profession: Principles are a lawyer’s best friend.