Mr Tej Thakkar, Solicitor in our Traffic Lawyers Team, was recently instructed by a motorist charged with an allegation of driving without insurance contrary to section 143 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
The motorist concerned had purchased a new vehicle by virtue of a private sale and, relying upon the provisions of his existing policy of motor insurance (which permitted him to drive other vehicles to which he was not the ‘owner’ and there was in place an effective policy of motor insurance for that vehicle), he had driven the new vehicle back to his property. During the course of that journey, the motorist was stopped by the police and issued with a ‘HORT’ notice, requiring him to produce his insurance documentation confirming cover for such ‘use’. Upon delivery of such documentation as required, the police informed the motorist that the policy produced (and relied upon) was not valid for ‘use’ of the new vehicle since he was deemed to be the ‘owner’ upon taking possession of the vehicle following the sale, thus he was charged with the offence of driving with no insurance.
The motorist concerned was genuinely oblivious to the issue that arose and subsequently found himself in a predicament in respect of the matter, certainly in circumstances upon which his driving licence was already endorsed with 9 penalty points as a result of 3 separate minor speeding offences in the preceding 3 years. Thus, as a result of this incident the motorist found himself in a position where he was exposed to a driving disqualification for a minimum period of 6 months under the ‘totting-up’ provisions as conferred within section 35 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.
Accordingly, the motorist concerned sought legal advice in respect of the index offence, together with the resulting consequences of a conviction for the offence. Mr Thakkar advised the motorist of the potential grounds of ‘special reasons’ that could be advanced on his behalf with the view of persuading the Court to not impose any sanction for the offence though it became apparent that such submissions were unlikely to succeed given the settled case law regarding the issue. Therefore, Mr Thakkar advised the motorist of the potential outcome and implications referring to the ‘sentencing guidelines’ for this offence. The motorist acknowledged the same and feared that any prolonged period of a driving disqualification would jeopardise his ongoing employment, thus adversely affect his ability to support his family.
Mr Thakkar represented the motorist at his recent hearing before Norwich Magistrates Court and successfully managed to persuade the Court to exercise its discretion, pursuant to relevant case law, to impose a short disqualification period for the offence itself, as opposed to endorsing the motorist’s licence with any penalty points.
The Magistrates accepted Mr Thakkar’s submissions for and on behalf of the motorist and proceeded to impose a short 14 day driving ban rather than endorsing the motorist’s driving licence with penalty points, upon which the Court would have been obliged to impose the minimum terms of a 6 month driving ban unless there were grounds for mitigating the normal consequences of conviction. In addition, Mr Thakkar successfully persuaded the Court to reduce the level of fine it imposed for the offence, taking into consideration his prompt early guilty plea and the mitigation that was advanced on his behalf.
As a result of receiving a short 2 week disqualification, the motorist has been able to use the remainder of his annual leave entitlement to mitigate any possible adverse influence of the disqualification on his ability to work, thereby averting any risk of losing his current employment which is heavily dependent on his ability to drive.