Sentencing Penalties on Conviction

Credit for Guilty Pleas

If you plead guilty at an early stage in proceedings you will be given credit for this. This means a reduction in your sentence. The court must tell you when they give you credit.

Fine

Different offences have different maximum penalties. The level of fine depends on the type of case and the facts of the case.

The court will take into account your financial circumstances. If you will have genuine difficulty in paying a fine and any costs order immediately the court will allow you time to pay.

Penalty points

Different offences have carry different ranges of penalty points. The number of points depends on the circumstances of the case. The more serious the circumstances, the more points you will get.

If you are convicted of two or more offences out of the same incident you will normally only get one set of points which would be in the range for the most serious offence.

Totting up

If you have 12 points on your licence you will be disqualified for a minimum period of 6 months. If there are exceptional circumstances, for example where people depend on you, the court have the discretion to give you another chance.

The 12 points must be within three years of the present offence. After 3 years they do not count for totting up purposes. For this purpose the important date is the date of the present offence not the date of the court hearing – you cannot avoid totting by delaying proceedings!

For totting purposes, your licence is effectively wiped clean after a totting disqualification.

Disqualification

Depending on the type of case and the circumstances, the court may have the power to disqualify you. The length of the disqualification will depend on the circumstances and any minimum or maximum period set by law.

The most common disqualification period for motoring offences is 6 months but this can vary a lot depending on the case and the charges.

The usual disqualification period for first time drink driving or driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs is a minimum period of 12 months. The disqualification can be substantially longer than this but never shorter unless:
  • By agreement with the court, if you have attended and completed a course for convicted drink drive offenders. In this case the disqualification period can be reduced by up to one quarter.
  • In truly exceptional circumstances a court may consider that special reasons apply to your case. An example of this might be a life or death situation where you have driven a badly injured person to a nearby hospital.

Prison

Prison is not an option with the less serious motoring offences. More serious offences including Drink and Drug Driving Offences do carry the possibility of prison.

Under normal circumstances the following imprisonable offences would be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.

  • Drink and Drug Driving Offences
  • Taking a vehicle without consent
  • Driving whilst disqualified

If you are facing any of these charges you should take legal advice and seriously consider having a representative with you at court.

Dangerous Driving

  • You can be sentenced to prison for dangerous driving.
  • The case can be heard in either the Magistrates' or the Crown Court depending on the circumstances.
  • You may be given the choice where the case should be heard.

If you are facing this charge you should without doubt have someone to represent you at court.

Crown Court offences

  • Causing Death by Dangerous Driving will be heard in the Crown Court.
  • Causing Death by Careless Driving when under the influence of Drink or Drugs will also be heard in the Crown Court.
If you are facing either of these charges you should without doubt have someone to represent you at court.

The Costs of the Prosecution

You can be ordered to make a contribution towards the costs of the prosecution. If you are convicted after a trial the costs will be higher than if you pleaded guilty. The amount you are ordered to pay tends to vary from area to area.

Sentencing for common offences involving private vehicles

  • Speeding
    • Fine and between 3 and 6 penalty points or disqualification – you can get a heavier fine for speeding on the motorway.
  • Careless driving;
  • Driving without due care and attention;
  • Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users
    • All three offences carry a fine and between 3 and 6 penalty points or disqualification.
    • The worse the driving, the more the points.
  • Defective Brakes; Worn Tyres; Vehicle in Dangerous condition; Dangerous Load
    • 3 points and a fine unless you can show that you were not aware of the problem and had no reason to suspect it was there.
    • The fines are higher for a goods vehicle.
  • After an Accident: Failing to give particulars; Failing to report; Failing to Stop
    • Fine and between 5 and 10 penalty points or disqualification.
    • Points will vary depending on the circumstances.
  • Using a vehicle without insurance; Causing or permitting a vehicle to be used without insurance
    • Fine and between 6 and 8 penalty points or disqualification.
    • Points will vary depending on the circumstances.
  • Driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence
    • Fine and between 3 and 6 penalty points or disqualification.
    • Points will vary depending on the circumstances.
  • Failing to produce documents (Licence, Insurance, MOT)
    • Fine in respect of each document not produced - no penalty points.
  • Drink or Drug Drive Offences
    • Minimum 12 months disqualification and a Fine.
    • The offence is imprisonable. Prison is a real possibility for the repeat offender or where there are aggravating circumstances e.g.high reading, reckless driving etc.
  • Failing to provide a specimen at the roadside
    • You face a fine, penalty points and a real possibility of disqualification (even if you had nothing to drink).
    • 25% discount may be available on the disqualification if you attend a recognised course.
  • Failing to provide a specimen at the police station
    • You face a fine and a minimum disqualification of 12 months (even if you had nothing to drink).
    • To show their disapproval of non-cooperation, the court will often impose a longer disqualification than the 12 month minimum.
    • 25% discount may be available on the disqualification if you attend a recognised course.
  • Drunk or Drug whilst in charge of vehicle Offences
    • Disqualification is at the discretion of the court.
    • 25% discount may be available on the disqualification if you attend a recognised course.
    • If you are not disqualified you will get between 3 and 11 penalty points.
    • In addition you will be fined. The offence is imprisonable as above.
  • Driving whilst disqualified.
    • Sentence varies depending on the circumstances and the extent to which the court order has been deliberately ignored.
    • In every case the court will consider prison.
    • In addition the court can fine and further disqualify.
    • If they do not further disqualify you will get 6 penalty points.

 

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