December festivities should end only with good cheer, not a run-in with the police for a drink-driving offence. If the latter should occur, you’ll need counsel who can advise you on the law and your responsibilities in your particular case. And make no mistake: Avoiding a driving ban puts the responsibility squarely on you as the defendant. Small business owners can be especially at risk. Does your business depend on you being able to drive? You could face not only the loss of income but also reputational damage if you are unable to hide your driving ban from clients or customers.
Here are the most important things you should know about arguing against a driving ban.
The penalty system
The many codes and attendant endorsements in the driving offence laws can be quite confusing. For instance, CD40, “causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink”, can carry a points penalty of 3 to 11, while DR40, “in charge of a vehicle while alcohol level” above limit incurs an automatic 10 points. There is a lot that is open to interpretation, and many factors, including the results of your breath, blood or urine test, will play a part in how the magistrate hearing your case rules. By the way, you’ll also be subject to penalties if you don’t agree to submit a sample or refuse to allow the analysis of a sample taken while you were intoxicated, even if you weren’t driving.
Although the stated penalty for exceeding 12 points or drink driving is an “obligatory ban”, it is anything but. In fact, there is quite a lot of judicial discretion allowed in these cases.
Avoiding a ban due to hardship
You can help your own case by being solidly prepared and not disrespectful of the Court or the police. Firstly, if you are pleading guilty but seeking to reduce the charges, get your paperwork in order. Hardship can be argued on the basis of different things, but the clearest case is the loss of one’s income or business.
If your driving record is clean, you’ll start off on a much better note than if you have penalty points, and if you’ve had a driving ban or tried to defend against one in the past, you will not be able to use the same arguments for exceptional hardship as before unless more than three years have passed since the last conviction.
In addition, you need to be prepared to answer the question of why the Court should allow you to avoid a ban, going beyond just employment. The Court usually observes that the defendant should have been well aware that a ban would be a likely consequence of drink driving, so present your mitigating circumstances, letters of character if possible, and every argument at your disposal.
The most important piece of advice, other than to avoid drink driving at all costs, is to work with your motor lawyers in good faith and be honest about your circumstances.