Last week I saw a client in conference. He was concerned that he had been caught speeding at over 100mph. In fact, he had been clocked at 103mph at 0841 hours on a busy section of the M25. This rather begs the question of how do you reach such a speed in the rush hour on the M25. Quite a feat, you may think, to reach such a speed in congested traffic. Where was he going? Racing to the hospital to see his ill mother? Racing to the airport to catch a plane? No, he was on his way to work.
What do you think? Did he deserve to be disqualified?
I expect most of you will answer that question with a resounding, ‘yes’. You will all have your reasons for condemning those who break speed limits. They are breaking the law. They imperil others. They imperil themselves, and, so on. Many of us would have no sympathy for those caught speeding. Let’s pause for a moment. What about considering the context in which this offence was committed.
I am not going to set out his mitigation here. However, don’t you think that anyone caught speeding is entitled to a fair hearing as to what the penalty should be? Of course, you do; we are all entitled to a fair consideration of our mitigation. What does this mean?
In practice, this means that a court will take into account a number of criteria such as:-
- Did the Defendant indicate he would plead ‘Guilty’ at an early stage and follow this up with a ‘Guilty’ plea at the first opportunity? (The courts give credit, as to sentence, to those who save court time and public money by admitting guilt rather than being found ‘Guilty’ following a trial).
- Was there anything wrong with the driving other than the speeding? For example, did the manner of the Defendant’s driving give any cause for concern (other than for the speed)?
- Was the Defendant co-operative with the police? (If it is a case in which he was pulled over).
- Does the Defendant have a clean driving license? Perhaps it was his first ever offence, for example, after 30 years of driving.
- Were there any circumstances that would have meant a disqualification would have had an especially severe effect upon the Defendant? (such as loss of job and livelihood).
- Were there any circumstances that meant someone else, who perhaps depends upon the driver, would lose out? For example, an ill mother or child who regularly depends upon the driver for hospital visits but who obviously bore no responsibility for the commission of the offence.
- Were there any other circumstances which meant that the driver was just not himself that day? (The range and type of circumstances that could arise in any given case are virtually infinite).
Well, the types of factor set out above were all taken into account tailored, of course, to the Defendant’s personal and individual circumstances. The result was that he had 6 penalty points imposed upon his license, he was fined and ordered to pay court costs. He was not disqualified to his astonishment and to the great pleasure of his employer.
Therefore, if you are ever caught driving at well over the speed limit consider your options carefully. If you marshall your arguments well and know how to put them to best effect you just might be able to avoid a disqualification and keep your life on track.