Monday, 19 January 2015

Did You Survive Blue Monday?!

Guest Post By Charlotte Knight

Dr Cliff Arnall's formula is intended to prove the ‘scientific’ fact that the third Monday of January is the most depressing day of the year.

The famous fake equation!

This formula was hugely criticised and it quickly transpired that this ‘calculation’ was commissioned by Sky Travel for advertising purposes. Even though the scientific calculation has been proved as false, blue Monday is still ingrained in society's perception with the January blues reaching their height on this midway through the month point. This has been shown during the past three years, where social media has seen over 2 million negative comments on this day alone.

So why are people so negative?

Although Dr Arnall’s theory is by his own admission ‘meaningless’, he could have been onto something…

The post-Christmas hangover is in full swing with the arrival of unpaid credit card bills on the doorstep, along with the knowledge that most of your next payslip will probably vanish into thin air paying off the stragglers of Christmas debt.

It’s also the time of the month where many people are suffering from severe self-loathing and guilt at failed New Year’s Resolutions. Which after setting themselves year after year thought this was finally the year they would succeed.

Monday itself is dreaded for most every week for obvious reasons, work, traffic, annoying fellow commuters and this isn’t helped by the wet, cold dark mornings of January. Neither is it helped by the fact that many don’t see any daylight as it is dark before they even leave the office!

How do we overcome this?

So before you are tempted to crash your car into the back of the frustrating commuter in front of you (WARNING: don’t do this, you could face a potential dangerous driving charge), we have some suggestions to help the blue out of January:

  • Perhaps watch a funny movie;
  • Do some exercise to produce those feel good endorphins; or
  • Treat yourself to a cheap bottle of wine with a friend.However, don’t make your Monday more depressing by being charged with drink driving and facing a 12 month driving disqualification!

January is bad enough as it is, don’t make it any more depressing by getting yourself in trouble with the law. Here at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors we see too many people who face a court appearance, a driving ban and losing their job over a just few seconds of poor judgement. Fortunately our unique strategies and our unparalleled expertise mean that more than 9 out of 10 drink driving cases that we take to trial result in a complete acquittal. 

So whilst we can’t cure your depression, we can hopefully help to make your blue Monday a healthier shade of lilac.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Don't remove your Diesel Particulate Filters (DPFs) or you could find yourself in court

Diesel Particulate Filters or DPFs are the bane of many motorists' lives. They are fitted to most modern diesel cars to filter harmful pollutants from the exhaust gases. The filters are seen as an important environmental protection.

Unfortunately the filters can become easily blocked, particularly in cars that are driven mostly around town. They cost a fortune to replace and a blocked filter can leave a motorist with a bill of several hundred pounds.

BBCMidlands Inside Out on 20 October 2014 claims to have uncovered a number of garages in Staffordshire that will remove the workings of the filters so that they don't get blocked. Of course this solves the motorists' problems but it also stops the filters from working and pollution gets released into the air.

Remove diesel filters at your peril!

Don't be tempted by this quick fix. Firstly removal of a DPF means an automatic MoT test failure. Cars normally still pass the emissions tests even with the filters removed. That's why mechanics try to fool the system by removing the insides of the filter leaving the plastic casing intact. It won't work if it gets spotted and you will be faced with a big bill for a new filter. Secondly, and more seriously, removing the filter is a criminal offence. It could result in a fine from the magistrates' court of up to £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a commercial vehicle. The fine is for using the vehicle but the garage owner could also be prosecuting for "aiding and abetting".

If trading standards or the police do want to investigate or issue court proceedings then a specialist motoring solicitor may be able to help. Especially for motor traders, the fine might be the least of your worries. We will want to know what the evidence is and maybe test it at court. If the prosecutor can't prove the case then you will be found not guilty.

So, if you are concerned that you may need our help, please give us a call on 08000 85 27 84 for a "no strings" chat about your case.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

National Tyre Safety Month- October 2014

Guest post - Emma Potts

 So winter is well on its way. What I hear you cry?! Where’s summer gone? Well before we know it Christmas will be here (groan,sigh I hear a few of you cry).

Well the beginning of winter is not just about going getting our new winter coats or pair of UGG boots one may be treating themselves to, or even arranging those cosy nights in front of the fire with a glass of your favourite tipple.

But before we all worry whether we will be warm enough have you thought about your car and what it needs in preparation for winter?

You know the car that will keep you warm on your daily commute when it’s still dark in the morning and when the outside temperatures are comparative to that of the Antarctic (or so it often feels).

Boring it may well seem but the importance of maintaining your vehicle's “legs” is imperative, especially in winter.
Winter weather

As we all know in winter we see some of the wettest months of the year. I know we often feel like every month is the wettest month of the year in the UK but the largest rain pour is throughout the winter months. 

A statistic recently published by the department of transport in the reported road casualties found that defective tyres areresponsible for 40% of vehicle related road deaths
**There is also the worry that if your car has defective tyres, you could face prosecution. The Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 specify what constitutes a defective tyre.

Car tyres are listed in the law as having 7 possible defects. Most car drivers are not aware of the depth of the regulations. If you were stopped by the police and of any of these defects were found with your tyres you could end up receiving punishments for each individual defective tyre.    
Punishments for defective tyres

·        For each illegal tyre there is a penalty point risk of 3 points per tyre and a maximum possible fine of up to £2,500 for each tyre that is defective.

So if for instance you had 4 defective tyres you get actually lose your licence with the accumulation of the 12 penalty points (you would become a “totter” which could see you facing a driving ban), not to mention the serious dint in your wallet from the fine that will be imposed.
Imagine having to wait at the bus stop on a cold dark morning to get to work and all thanks to having not checked your tyres meet legal requirements.

So, what depth do your tyres need to be in order to meet legal requirements?

Firstly current UK law requires car drivers to have at least 1.6mm of tread depth on their tyres.
“How do you measure your tyre tread?” I hear you ask, we don’t all carry rulers around in our pockets! Well if you haven’t got a tyre checker or a ruler, there is a simple way of checking your tyres without these items and many refer to it as “the 20p test.”

The 20p Test
You can do a tyre check yourself by inserting a 20p coin into the main grooves on your outer tyres.

If you can't see the outer band of the 20 p when the 20p is inside the tyre groove then your tyre tread is within the legal limit.
*** Whilst doing this test also remember look out for the other possible defects ***

7 other key things to check with your tyres to avoid any prosecution
1: Is there any uneven wear and tear on your tyres
2: Are there any cuts or slashes anywhere on the tyres
3: Is there any bulging in the tyre walls
4: What about tyre pressures – ensure your tyres have the correct pressure as stated in your vehicle’s manufacturing book
5: Tread depth on your tyres must be 1.6mm at least
6: Your tyres must be fit for the purpose that the vehicle is being used
7: There should be no cord or ply exposed on any tyre

A defective tyre is therefore a tyre which is found to have one of the above defects present.

(Remember if any one of these defects are found you may be liable to prosecution.)

All of the above checks are recommended on a weekly basis and before any long journey
So think winter, think tyres!
·         Don’t become a statistic and more importantly stay safe.
·        Carry out all of the above checks on a regular basis or as it's national tyre safety month in October why not take advantage and go and get a free tyre check at your local tyre service centre.

There’s no excuse it's free and could save you a fortune in the long term.
If you are already facing a fixed penalty notice for defective tyres this could well mean you have become at risk of a totting up offence which will result in a disqualification from driving. If you are please call our expert team here at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors who will be able to have a chat with you. 08000 85 27 84
Wrap up warm folks and remember your tyres need extra TLC this winter.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Love Your Boss...and your fellow motorist!!!

Guest Blog By Stephen Oldham

National Hug Your Boss Day Blog

14 August 2014 is National Hug Your Boss Day. You can find out more about it at the National Hug Your Boss Day website.

Everybody needs a hug from time-to-time – wouldn’t the world be a better place if everything could be resolved with a hug?

We have to deal with some pretty difficult cases here at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors. We regularly defend cases of drink driving. Quite often our clients’ stories are quite heart breaking – they face losing their jobs and homes if they are banned from driving. We are always really pleased when justice is done and they manage to keep their licence.

How much better a good hug rather than a long court battle would be.

Russell Brand

We have been inspired by National Hug Your Boss Day and by comedian Russell Brand who intervened on Tottenham Court Road in London when he saw a driver and a cyclist get into an argument. Instead of just walking by Russell administered a big embrace to all concerned and they went happily on their way. (Picture from @Joe_Stas on Twitter.)

Maybe we should take a leaf out of Russell Brand's book and hug one another instead of getting hot under the collar when someone cuts us up!

We think that all of these common driving offences could be resolved with a big hug. We know that we would be putting ourselves out of a job but we would be more than happy to administer the scheme and set up a hug bank.

Drink Driving

Driving with excess alcohol is a pretty serious offence. It results in a minimum driving ban of 12 months and in the worst cases can mean 6 months in prison.

We suggest the following alternative penalties:
  • Drink drivers who are stopped by the police but there is no accident: A big hug to the policeman (or woman) and a small hug to anyone nearby to say sorry for putting them in danger.

  • Drink drivers who have an accident: A hug to the ambulance driver if s/he attends and three hugs to the magistrates (one hug each).

  •  Drink drivers who are more than 3½ times overthe drink driving limit: Normally the magistrates will think about a prison sentence for anyone who provides a reading of 120µg per 100 ml of breath. So, the only hugs available are hugs in the prison visiting room. Geoffrey Miller Solicitors have never had a client sent to prison on a charge of drink driving alone (even when the reading was over 120, and we’ve seen a few!!) Hugs all round.


Low speeds of up to 10% plus 9 mph over the speed limit (e.g. 42 mph in a 30 zone or 86 mph in a 70 zone) usually mean that the police will offer driver education or a speed awareness course. We think that trip out to the speeding site and a big hug of the speed camera would fit the bill just fine. The speed camera could even capture the moment to prove that the driver has done your duty.

We understand that drivers who go at much higher speeds will have to receive a tougher penalty but we really don’t think that public humiliation is the right thing. Rather than a driving ban how about a hug for your car to show it how much you care and how you don’t want to put it in danger by driving it too fast.

The law says that a driver who gets 12 penalty points or more should be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months. We think that drivers should be able to cancel some of their points by offering a big hug to anyone who wants one. If the hugees (this is a legal term for the recipient of a hug) are satisfied then they could write to DVLA and one penalty point could be removed from their licence per hug. How about a massive hugging park with a big screen outside the DVLA office in Swansea?

It’s pretty unlikely that our plans will be put in place but do not despair. If you get 12 points then the magistrates have a discretion to allow you to keep your licence if you (or someone else) will suffer exceptional hardship. If this happens to you then call Jeanette Miller at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors where a team of specialist solicitors can advise you about your case. We have a great record for helping drivers to keep their licence.

Our boss might even throw in a big hug too!!!

Thursday, 31 July 2014


Guest post by Paul Loughlin

There are two clear and basic ingredients to an offence of ‘Drink Driving’. I suppose that’s obvious really. The first being that a car has to be driven on a road or other public place. The second being that alcohol has to have been consumed to show either that the driver is over the prescribed limit or that he or she is impaired to such an extent that they are unfit to drive.

Well known Penalties

The television infomercials are to the point in explaining that there is a minimum 12 month ban from driving and a criminal record. The warnings don’t go as far as to explain that in serious cases a Community Order can be imposed and in very serious cases the Courts can even hand down a prison sentence. 

Long has the question been asked: ‘What is the main purpose of the Criminal Justice System? To punish those who offend or to rehabilitate those who offend? Most people would say there has to be an element of both for justice to be done.

Now the government are having to look at ways to simply deter repeat offenders who seem immune to any attempt to rehabilitate and immune to the consequences of any punishment! Electronic tags are not a new thing. They have been used for some time now to restrict offender’s movements in certain areas and at certain time. A deterrent from repeat offending above all else perhaps?

Drastic measures?

Never before though has an electronic tag been used to directly deter an offender from consuming alcohol by measuring the alcohol consumed!

A new 12 month trial is set to begin for drink driving cases in London Boroughs using electronic tags to record the level of alcohol in the offender’s sweat. The ‘transdermal tags’ will monitor if the offender has consumed alcohol. If they have, then the Court will have power to impose further penalties.

‘Scourge on our High Streets’

With Alcohol related offences reported in a more negative light than ever before it is perhaps unsurprising that this scheme is being piloted in an effort to simply deter repeat offenders who seem immune to punishment or rehabilitation programmes. Boris Johnson has made his feelings known about the topic and it is hoped that the scheme will help to drop drink driving repeat offences by the 12% that it has done during trials in South Dakota, US.

Perhaps the above viewpoint answers the question posed. Or certainly how the Courts are looking to deal with the problem. The tendency here is to punish rather than rehabilitate. The deterrent here is the additional punishment and the additional imposition.

In the circumstances it is more important than ever to ensure that the negative stigma of drink related offences, drink driving in particular, is not the overriding thought in the mind of the Court when considering a case and ultimately any sentence on a finding of guilt. 

We firmly believe that each case has to be taken on its own merits and that the penalty imposed has to be in keeping with the circumstances and the offender's mitigation. A blanket policy is dangerous and unjust. 

If you are in the unenviable position of having to go to court for a drink driving offence, make sure you check your options with our expert Motoring Team at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors before going to Court and blindly leaving your ankles to their mercy!

Monday, 14 July 2014

St Swithin's Day Thoughts

Guest Post by Stephen Oldham

On 15th July we will wish you happy St Swithin’s day here at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors. Everybody knows the old legend: if it rains on St Swithin’s day then it will rain for the next forty days; if the sun shines then we can expect good weather for forty days. This is the old proverb.

St Swithin's day if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain
St Swithin's day if thou be fair
For forty days 'twill rain nae mare
We imagine this is exactly how our clients feel when then first get in touch in need for motoring law advice! 

St Swithin was the Bishop of Winchester. He died in around 862 AD and was famous for touring his diocese on foot. He would not have needed a specialist motoring solicitor to defend him for speeding or drink driving. If he ever comes back and becomes Bishop of Winchester again then we can suggest a few legends based on the number 40 that he might like to use.

Speed limit of 40 mph

If you break the 40 mph speed limit then you can expect some attention from the police. The Association of Chief Police Officers have produced guidelines suggesting how the police should deal with drivers going over the limit. 41-45 mph means that no action will be taken; for 46-53 drivers are normally offered a speed awareness course; 54-65 usually leads to a fixed penalty ticket; over 66 mph and a court appearance it likely. There are other guidelines in place for all of the speed limits from 30-70 mph.

St Swithin's day if thou dost drive
Where the forty limit is live
Over sixty-five and thou shalt know
To the Magisrates’ Court thou go

Section 40 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988

We do not lose many cases in the Magistrates’ Court. We take scores of drink driving cases to trial every year – most of them are successful. 

We also represent drivers who have reached the 12 point limit and we usually help them to keep their licence.

On rare occasions the court do not find in our favour. If that happens then we can take the case to appeal in the Crown Court. Section 40 allows the courts to suspend the driving disqualification whilst we are waiting for the appeal to be heard.

St Swithin's day you lose thy trial
Do not drive another mile
If you want your licence back
Section forty puts you right on track

DVLA Code CU40

If a driver is convicted of a motoring offence or if they receive a fixed penalty (usually from the police) then their driving licence will be endorsed. Points remain active for three years although they are normally printed on the paper licence counterpart for four. DVLA have a list of codes for all of the different offences. CU40 is the code for driving a vehicle with defective steering. It’s pretty rare for us to see that code on a licence but here’s what St Swithin might say about it.

St Swithin's day if thy steering
Makes thy car to commence veering
On thy licence a code appears
CU40 for three years

40 Penalty Points

Drivers who get 12 or more penalty points in three years can normally expect a minimum driving ban of 6 months. If we can persuade the magistrates that a ban would cause exceptional hardship either to the driver or to someone else then they will not usually be banned at all.

Our record in the last few years is 31 points and no driving ban – we have never had a case with 40 points but if we got one we would fight to the bitter end.

St Swithin's day thou art so bad
That forty points are to be had
Call Geoffrey Miller and we can
Help avoid a driving ban

40µg of alcohol per 100 ml of breath

The legal limit for drink driving is 35µg/100ml of breath. If the police suspect that someone is drink driving then they normally take them to the police station and breathalyse them. If the reading is below 40µg/100ml then the police do not normally prosecute and will take no further action. We suggest that you do not test your luck. It’s always better to stick to soft drinks if you are taking the car.

St Swithin's day thou drinketh wine
The law shall stop thy car in time
If under forty thou shalt blow
The police will prob’ly let thee go

Happy St Swithin’s Day and here's hoping for good weather.

If you require advice regarding any of the above motoring offences, we appreciate the situation you face is no laughing matter but hopefully we can help you to feel relief when we guide you through your options. Please give us a call on 08000 85 27 84 for a "no strings" chat with a member of our expert motoring law team.