Tag Archives: driving

Driving in the snow – offences to guard against

driving in the snow
Chesterfield crime and motoring law solicitor Denney Lau

As poor weather promises to cause chaos on our roads, more care is needed by those driving in the snow to carry out essential journeys that were routine only the previous week.  If your journey remains necessary, and you choose to drive, then there are some things to bear in mind.

Do you know your legal responsibilities as a driver in poor weather conditions?  Chesterfield crime and road traffic solicitor Denney Lau highlights a few possible offences to be wary of.

Make sure you can see out of your vehicle

Your duty actually starts before you start driving.

The Highway code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions, you must be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.  This common sense approach is supported by by section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988.  It states that you must have a full view of the road ahead.  This clearly precludes driving through a small hole you have scraped in the snow on your windscreen.

Failure to comply with this could result in a fine but perhaps more importantly penalty points.

However, leaving your vehicle unattended with the engine running and the heaters on to clear your windscreen may not only see you having your car stolen and left with no claim under your insurance. This will amount to the offence of ‘quitting’ your vehicle, whether or not the doors are locked, and could lead to a fine.

Finally, make sure your lights and number plates are also clear, or risk another fine.

Inconsiderate driving?

There is not a law stating it is illegal to drive with snow on the roof.  If, however, you choose to do so and snow falls off into the path of another car then you could be penalised.  For example, it may amount to inconsiderate driving – Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

This can result in a fine with the court endorsing between 3 and 9 penalty points.maximum penalty being level 5 fine and the Court must endorse between 3 and 9 penalty points or consider disqualification.  Alternatively, you could be charged for using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition – 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Where weather conditions make it more difficult to drive safely

driving in the snowThere are two catch all offences that will be more easily committed in conditions where driving is difficult.  It is easy to imagine losing control of a vehicle, or failing to notice another motorist, while driving in the snow.

If there is an accident, or poor driving is witnessed, then consideration will be given to whether one of the following offences has been committed.

The first is the offence of driving without due care and attention, or careless driving.  This is Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.  To convict a motorist a court must be sure that the manner of driving falls below the standard expected of a competent driver.  Again, a fine will be expected, but between 3 and 9 points can be placed on the driving licence.  A discretionary disqualification could be imposed, or the points could count towards a totting ban.

Dangerous driving in the snow

Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 sets out the offence of dangerous driving.  This offence is committed when a person’s standard of driving falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.  This will be in circumstances where it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.

This offence can be dealt with at the Crown Court as well as the Magistrates’ Court, and can lead to imprisonment and a compulsory driving disqualification and extended re-test.

Instruct an expert in road traffic law

driving in the snowWe would ask that, when considering driving in the snow, you think about whether your journey is really necessary.  If so, you take all of the precautions explained above.

If your driving still brings you into conflict with the police or courts then please contact Denney at our Chesterfield office.  His details can be found here.

Alternatively you can use the form below.


Driving disqualification avoided due to exceptional hardship

Chesterfield Motoring Solicitor Kevin Tomlinson was recently instructed in a case where his client was at real risk of a driving disqualification. Her latest offending left her with 19 penalty points on her licence.  In order to ensure the best result for her, Kevin had to ensure that offences from two different court centres were before a single court.

road traffic law solicitor ChesterfieldKevin’s client had received a requisition from a Court in Staffordshire.  This was as a result of new speeding offences. If convicted she would have been over the 12 point penalty limit for keeping her driving license and a ban was possible. Kevin knew that the client would have a strong argument to keep her license as losing it would cause her exceptional hardship.

His client then discovered that she was to have a further case before Derby Magistrates’ Court involving similar offence.

It was important that both cases be listed together.  This was because Kevin could only put forward the same reasons for exceptional hardship once within a three year period.   Kevin managed to delay the case in Staffordshire until the case in Derby had been listed.  He was then able to have both matters listed before the same Magistrates’ Court.

At the point of sentencing Kevin had the opportunity to put forward the exceptional hardship argument on behalf of his client.  This gave her an opportunity to keep her driving license even though she now had 19 penalty points on her driving licence as a result of her guilty pleas.

Exceptional hardship arguments

motoring law solicitor chesterfieldAs all drivers know when you reach 12 penalty points the Court will disqualify you from driving under the totting up procedure. However, if it can be shown that exceptional hardship will result from a disqualification a driver is enabled to keep their license even though they have passed the 12 point penalty limit.

The concept of “exceptional hardship” is not comprehensively defined by the law.  It does, however, have to be more than an inconvenience caused as a natural result of a driving ban.

Issues that can amount to hardship may include:

  • Loss of a job resulting in loss of accommodation for others such as children
  • An inability to get to any work due to geographical and public transport restrictions
  • Loss of other third persons employment due to businesses having to close
  • The requirement to take family members to urgent medical appointments when no other transport is available

In this case Kevin argued exceptional hardship before the Magistrates.  His client gave evidence to the court about the difficulties she would face if she lost her licence.  Although the case was initially heard before two Magistrates, they could not agree.  As a result a third Magistrate was brought in so Kevin had to present the case again.

No driving disqualification but 19 penalty points

Fortunately for his client, Kevin was successful in his representations and exceptional hardship was found. The court chose to exercise its discretion not to impose a driving disqualification. This meant the Client could continue driving and was simply ordered to pay financial penalties for these offences.

Kevin’s advocacy skills and ability to see the bigger picture when collecting together cases before making his argument enabled the client to keep his driving licence.

Privately funded cases

For this type of case legal aid was not available.  Instead an agreed fixed fee was agreed in advance of the work being undertaken.  In the event this was arguably a small price to pay in order that our client keep her driving license.

Contact a Chesterfield Motoring Law Solicitor

Chesterfield road traffic law solicitor VHS Fletchers driving disqualification
Chesterfield motoring law solicitor Kevin Tomlinson

If you require advice and representation from an expert road traffic law solicitor because you face a driving disqualification then please contact Kevin at our Chesterfield office on 01246 283000 or use the contact form below.  Details of our Chesterfield Office can be found here.  Alternatively you can find your nearest office here.

Kevin can provide you with detailed and affordable advice as to whether you are able to challenge the prosecution evidence relating to your road traffic offence, or how you are likely to be sentenced following a guilty plea.


Disqualified Driving Trial Success

Nottingham criminal solicitor Nick Walsh recently represented a client who was being prosecuted for disqualified driving on two separate occasions.  Once again the progress of this case illustrates that working within the prescriptive Criminal Procedure Rules can place responsibility for providing evidence firmly with the prosecution.  disqualified driving nottingham criminal solicitorIt is another case that shows the failings of the prosecution to provide this evidence.

Nick’s client had been disqualified from driving following a conviction for dangerous driving in 2008.  The disqualification was subject to the mandatory provision that he remain disqualified from driving until he passed an extended driving test.

He had never taken such a test. The prosecution sought to rely on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) record to prove the fact of the disqualification. There was no issue that Nick’s client was the person who was disqualified or that he was driving on the occasions alleged.

Disqualified Driving

Nick’s client informed him that a search of his driver record held with the DVLA showed that the disqualification had been removed. Nick carried out an identical search.  The result was a statement that the disqualification had been removed in 2012.

Pro-active Case Management

disqualified driving trial success
Nottingham Magistrates’ Court

At his first appearance our client entered not guilty pleas.  Nick completed the case management form and clearly set out that the issue in the case was whether the disqualification had been removed.  Nick followed this with secure email contact suggesting the evidence that can be agreed.

Nick went further and repeated the relevant issue in correspondence – the prosecution would have to prove that his client remained disqualified from driving.

The prosecution did not respond to the request to agree evidence.  As a result Nick asked that the case be listed for a case management hearing where again the relevant evidential issues whereagain highlighted.

Crown Failed to Secure Admissable Evidence

On the day of trial the prosecution produced an email from the DVLA explaining that the reference to ‘removal’ meant removal from the public record only.  The information was not, however, provided in a form that could be placed in evidence before the court. driving whilst disqualified trial successThe prosecution applied to the court for an adjournment.  Bearing in mind the history of the case and Nick’s engagement with the case management procedure this application was refused.

The prosecution had had ample time to secure the evidence in an admissable form.  As a result the prosecution offered no evidence and Nick’s client was found not guilty of the two charges of disqualified driving.

Contact Nick Walsh

If you face allegations before the Magistrates’ Court and you wish to instruct and experienced solicitor who is capable of adapting to and taking advantage of the changes in case management then please contact Nick Walsh.  He can be telephoned on 0115 9599550 or email him here.