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.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Let Grand Prix Blunder Serve As A Warning

Guest Post by Alison Ashworth

Lewis Hamilton may be licking his wounds today after an error of judgement made him opt for a pit stop in yesterday's qualifying hour resulting in him dropping from first to sixth place!!! He can't turn back the clock now, a desire to which our clients can  relate when they, like he, wish they could do something differently with the benefit of hindsight.

Hamilton's blunder not dissimilar to speeding motorists - Image Courtesy of the Daily Mail

For most "speed freaks" the thrill of watching Grand Prix drama will be enough, however we are advising motorists to be warned about the danger of allowing the excitement of the Grand Prix to influence, and lower their own driving standards.

For example, research from BSM driving school suggests that over a quarter of the people surveyed admitted to driving faster after playing on driving video games.

However before getting behind the wheel of your car whilst imagining you’re the next David Coulthard, we urge you to consider the potential impact of your need for speed on your driving licence.

If you are caught speeding then the following consequences may quickly follow:

  • Best case scenario

You may be lucky enough to be invited to attend a speed awareness course at an average cost of £100

  • Speed by up to 10 miles per hour over the limit-

You are looking at 3 points on your licence

  • Speed by up to 20 miles per hour over the limit –

You are looking at 4 - six points on your licence or a ban of 7 – 28 days

  • Speed by up to 30 miles per hour over the limit –

You are looking at a ban of 7 – 56 days, or points on your licence

It is probably also worth remembering the very wide sentencing powers of the Magistrates when it comes to speeding offences. There is actually no limit on the length of disqualification that can be imposed for a high level speeding offence.

Does speeding make you a totter?

Depending on the number of existing and active points on your licence, accruing points on your licence in the above way could result in you facing a totting up ban for which you face a 6 month ban.

We recommend that you leave the high speeds to the professionals, even if they do sometimes make a mess of their Grand Prix strategy!