Special Reasons Avoid Drink Drive Ban
Mansfield crime solicitor Melanie Hoffman successfully argued special reasons so that her client did not receive a penalty or disqualification despite driving while over the legal limit.
Facts of the Case
Mel’s client had driven to his local pub to enjoy an evening with a friend. This was a regular arrangement and he had every intention of walking home.
Instead of having a pleasant evening, he and his friend were assaulted in the pub by a group of strangers who entered the pub shortly before closing time. They were heavily in drink and intent on causing further trouble and threats were made.
Upon leaving the pub, Mel’s client and his friend were again confronted by members of this group, who were by now brandishing tools as weapons. He and his friend sought sanctuary in the works van, only for this to come under attack.
Some of the group were able to open the passenger side door with a view to pulling the passenger from the van. Mel’s client decided that despite having drunk alcohol, his only option was to drive the van off the pub car park. He genuinely feared for his own and his friend’s safety.
Once on the road the van was pursued by the group who were running after the group and also going to vehicles. As a result, our client had no alternative but to continued to drive in the direction of the local police station. Whilst doing so he called the police via his hands free kit to explain the situation. The police station was unmanned so that the he needed to continue to drive, ensuring that he kept in constant contact with the Police as he did so.
Eventually the pursuit came to an end and he was able to pull over and park the van, knowing that the Police were in attendance to assist. The Police chose to carry out a breath test, which the Defendant failed. He was ultimately charged with a drink drive offence, despite what might have amounted to compelling public interest reasons to the contrary.
Special Reasons Identified
Upon taking instructions from her client, Mel correctly advised him that a plea of guilty would have to be entered as he had driven on a public road whilst over the legal limit to do. The Crown would not consider withdrawing proceedings. He would be able, however, to put a special reasons argument before the court to seek to avoid punishment and a driving disqualification that would normally follow such a plea.
He would argue that he had only driven because he genuinely feared for the safety of himself and his friend, and a sober individual would have done the same in these circumstances.
To ensure that her client placed the best argument before the Magistrates, Mel:
- took detailed statements from the friend and pub licensee
- ensured that this evidence was agreed by the prosecution
- played the 999 call made by her client to the court
At the court hearing, Mel’s client gave evidence on his own behalf, and by the conclusion of the case there could be no doubt that the facts were as he described.
The Magistrates found that special reasons did apply in this case. He received an absolute discharge and no driving disqualification. There was no endorsement of the matter on his driving record and he did not have to pay any prosecution costs.
Contact Melanie Hoffman
It may be that if you are arrested for drinking and driving then you are interviewed by the police. If so, it is vital that you seek our free and independent legal advice at that stage to make sure that you provide the detail that might provide you with a defence or special reasons to avoid a disqualification.
There are a limited number of special reasons that can be put forward to avoid a driving disqualification for a drink drive offence, so if we haven’t been at the police station you will want to instruct us for court proceedings. We will always advise you about your entitlement to criminal legal aid for Magistrates’ Court representation.
Mel is currently on maternity leave, but if you are being investigated or face court proceedings then please contact her colleagues Tim Haines or Emma Cornel on 01623 675816 or use the contact form below: