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Court Procedure for Driving Offences

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 8 Jun 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Offences Court Procedure Process

Attending a court for driving offences, no matter how minor, can be an intimidating and overwhelming experience. The court process may seem less daunting if the driver does know the actual procedure that will take place.

Legal Representation and Preparation before a Court Case

It will be in the best interests of the accused to seek legal representation. A solicitor or lawyer will be able to give the best advice and guide the accused through the entire court procedure. A lawyer will know the best defence to use during a court case, and will fully prepare the defendant prior to the case. Anyone charged with an offence can of course represent themselves but it is doubtful that they will be experts on motoring law. The court is also under no legal obligation to provide a duty solicitor for the accused on the day of the hearing.

Length of Time before a Court Case is Heard

The length of time before a case arrives at court can vary significantly. The police will have up to six months from when the incident took place to begin the court process. Some police forces will serve the papers within a few weeks of the incident while others will wait until the six months are almost up. In some cases it can take around eight months before a case actually goes to court. This varying time length means that the accused may not actually receive notice of court proceedings until the six months has elapsed.

Will The Accused Be Required to Attend Court?

Whether or not the accused has to attend court will be dependant on the severity of the offence. Some offences can be dealt with by letter. The accused can plead guilty by letter but the court may still request that they attend. It may be the case that legal representation can attend court in place of the accused, depending on the offence. Anyone who has been charged with an offence and then bailed must appear in court.

Pleading Guilty by Post to a Motoring Offence

Pleading guilty by post means the accused will not have to personally attend court. The accused will have to supply their licence and also a Statement of Means. The accused will also be able to provide written mitigating circumstances outlining why the offence took place. This will also be a chance to explain why the accused does not think they should be punished severely. Legal representation should be used when detailing the mitigating circumstances.

Which Court Will the Case Be Heard in?

Countries in the UK do have different courts. In England and Wales driving offences are heard in Magistrates’ Courts. Around 95% of all cases in England and Wales are dealt with in Magistrates’ Courts and cases will usually be heard in the accused person’s local court. In Scotland there are three different courts; the Sheriff Court, the District Court and the Justice of the Peace. The severity of the case will determine the court in which the case will be heard.

How Long the Hearing Will Last

Court hearing length times can vary and there is usually no set time limit. If the accused is not prepared for the case a verdict can be reached very quickly. Most guilty plea cases will be disposed of in around 30 minutes. Not guilty cases can be much longer especially if witnesses are appearing. A plea of not guilty may mean that more than one court hearing is required. In most cases a minimum of two court hearings will be required for a not guilty plea.

Court Adjournment If Unprepared for a Court Hearing

If the accused is unprepared for the hearing a court may decided to adjourn and reschedule. It may also be the case that the court will simply decide to pass verdict for a guilty plea if the accused is unprepared. This means the court will impose the punishment it feels is warranted by the offence. If an adjournment is granted this will mean a further court hearing at a future date.

Any driver who is charged with an offence should take legal advice and representation well in advance of a court hearing. One of the main benefits of legal representation is that the defence Counsel can negotiate with the prosecution minutes before the court hearing. This is an important part of the process and is one of the reasons why it is beneficial to have legal representation.

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Someone I know has been caught on a traffic light offence. Replied and accepted it was them but hasn't booked on the course because he has been out of work. He now has a letter for a court hearing. He gets paid this week is there anything he can do??
Cherev - 8-Jun-17 @ 12:04 AM
Hi.Our family car was snapped speeding 40 in a 30 .... we don't know who was driving. I answered the letter asking for photographic evidence to find out who was driving ... the pic was of the rear of the car so no luck.... I wrote back saying that we could not identify who was driving, and gave the details of the other person who might have been driving. They wrote back sayingI needed to provide the name of the person driving.I again wrote back explaining I did. It truly know who was driving. They have now said the case will be taken to court. They have also failed to contact the other person who could have been driving the car ... will I have to attend court..... what do you expect the outcome to be
EQ - 26-May-17 @ 11:57 PM
Hello, I have been caught driving with no insurance due to not being informed by my ex, where my post is still going as I'm going through the process of changing it. I would just like to know am I able to still drive until my court date and they have made a decision on My punishment, thank you for your time
Niall - 21-Apr-17 @ 6:31 PM
Lin2 - Your Question:
On Sunday morning last week I went through a red light I was not speeding and realised what I had done. just befor it happened I pulled over as a very large old man had fallen over my passenger got out and helped another fellow get him up on his feet I then pulled out and as I was about to go ithrough the lights in question he decided to cross the road he was very unsteady and because I was watching him I missed the lights change I have had a letter and have replied admitting the offence now I have to a pear in court I am very worried as I had a ban ten years ago for failing to provide a specimen can you tell me if this is the reason why and if it will mean a serious problem

Our Response:
We really don't know sorry. Did you reply to the initial letter with mitigating circumstances? Sometimes, if you do this, your case automatically becomes a case for the courts to decide.
NoPenaltyPoints - 31-Mar-17 @ 12:15 PM
On Sunday morning last week I went through a red light Iwas not speeding and realised what I had done. just befor it happened I pulled over as a very large old man had fallen over my passenger got out and helped another fellow get him up on his feet I then pulled out and as I was about to go ithroughthe lights in questionhe decided to cross the roadhe was very unsteady and because I was watching him I missed the lightschange I have had a letterand have replied admitting the offencenow I have to a pear in court I am very worried as I had a ban ten years ago for failing to provide a specimen can you tell me if this is the reason why and if it will mean a seriousproblem
Lin2 - 30-Mar-17 @ 4:08 PM
I was caught doing 35 in a 20 zone by a camera van. What will happen next?
Jjojo - 2-Mar-17 @ 12:49 AM
Hi I was caught by a speed gun doing 38 in a 20mph zone. I was NOT stopped at the time, however I received a NIP in the post within a couple of weeks. This all happened in September 2016. Fast-forward to Feb 2017, and I have a SJPN with 21 days to respond (guilty - no court, guilty - in court, not guilty). How should I plead? Any idea what the likely outcome of a guilty plea will be? Should I write a mitigating note? The witness statement includes a picture of the scene of the offence, however my vehicle isnt in it. Does this matter? With regards to the speeding, I have no excuses really. The circumstances were: - I ride a 125cc motorcycle normally - on the day, I had been riding an instructor's bike (700cc) in preparation for a bike test. - I failed said test, and had just switched back to my 125cc - on my way home from the test, and had gone a short distance from the riding school just before the traffic police caught me. - clear road and in dry conditions
eeywfob - 1-Mar-17 @ 5:47 PM
Gee - Your Question:
Hi there, I was stopped by police doing 79 in a 50 last year 09/08/2016. Police cautioned me and said they my details will be forwarded to an independent department who look at various factors i.e. road conditions time of the day etc. and will write to me presumably NIP.I didn't receive any paperwork until 24th Jan 2017 were they sent a SJPN with 3 options.Do I have any grounds of appeal? Or for pleading not guilty? And what is likely to be the fine or penalty points?thanks.

Our Response:
No there won't be any grounds for appeal. The police have up to 6 months to initiate further action after stopping you. The likely penalty will be a fine plus points, but a temporary ban may also be considered by the judge.
NoPenaltyPoints - 27-Jan-17 @ 2:46 PM
Hi there, I was stopped by police doing 79 in a 50 last year 09/08/2016. Police cautioned me and said they my details will be forwarded to an independent department who look at various factors i.e. road conditions time of the day etc. and will write to me presumably NIP. I didn't receive any paperwork until 24th Jan 2017 were they sent a SJPN with 3 options. Do I have any grounds of appeal? Or for pleading not guilty? And what is likely to be the fine or penalty points? thanks.
Gee - 26-Jan-17 @ 4:40 PM
Hi, I received single justice procedure notice for speeding of 68 miles on a 40 miles road. I was stopped at the spot and given caution but not fixed penalty note as I have a EU driving license. The police officer was using Pro Laser III speed detection device and showed me the reading and I accepted the fact that I was too fast. I didnt signed anything then. 5.5 months later, I receved the single justice procedure notice and not thinking what to do. Option 1) Admit via replying to the letter. Option 2) Admit but ask to attend the court. Option 3) Dont admit For me. option 1 is attractive, but the court is asking me to provide details about my income and send the driving license. Question: If I go for option 2, would the court still ask me to fill the form MC100 or is it sufficient to give the information verbally (which is much easier). Regards David
David - 25-Jan-17 @ 1:36 PM
Hi, I got caught not wearing a seatbelt, I was given a AA Tech course to take but it came in my wife's name, I called AA tech and asked for the name to be changed and was told they will request it and resend the letter again. waited but instead of a name change I have received a SJPN notice, but again in my wife's name. The police witness report attached to it clearly states my name DOB etc. should we fill in the NOT guilty on the fact that it should be in my name.
RP - 24-Jan-17 @ 11:02 AM
Recied expired nip what should I do
Magi 266 - 11-Jan-17 @ 11:59 PM
I (very foolishly) allowed my friend to drive my car on a provisional drivers licence without insurance. He was pulled over by the police as my tail light was out. What will happen to me? Will I need to go to court? Will my licence be taken off me?
Frank - 10-Dec-16 @ 4:23 PM
I got stopped for having no insurance, it had lapsed a few weeks earlier, I thought I had renewed but I hadn't. I'm a newish driver and need to drive for my sales role, but 6 points wouold mean retaking my test , so effectively a 3 month ban as this is the waiting time for a new test I have evidence that I was trying to sort it out. I'm going to try an defend my case. What are court costs likely to be?
Lou - 1-Dec-16 @ 8:24 PM
I was pull over in June 16 for speeding (doing 66 on a 30mph road). I understand that I was above my driving limit but on the day I had just received the bad news that my father had passed away so I just wanted to get home, I felt very distraught. I have driven for 12years without any offence. To cut the long story short, I was told by the officer that stopped me that if udon't hear anything in 6 weeks I should forget about it. However, on the 28/11/16, I received a Single Justice Procedure Notice which stated I had 21 days to plead guilty or not. What is the likely outcome of me pleading guilty? I have a young child that I drive to school daily before going to work so I am very worried about any excessive punishment.
Abs - 28-Nov-16 @ 8:51 PM
Hello, back in December 2015 I was stopped for not having a MOT certificate, all other paperwork was fine. I've not received an initial fine. I've since gone to collect my post from my old address that I wasn't living at the time though my insurance was registered there. I've panicked to have received a fine of £350 which I've just this second paid but then also seen another letter of a single court justice procedure. I don't know what to do seeing that I've just paid the £350 and so will I still need to go to court??
Harry - 27-Sep-16 @ 7:26 PM
I was stopped for having no insurance no mot and not supervised on provisnal driving licence what will happen at court on 16th August will I go to prison for it
John - 29-Jul-16 @ 12:22 AM
I was caught driving no license no insurance no tax or mot and careless driving, what will happen in court?
J - 15-Jul-16 @ 1:45 PM
Was caught with no insurance 20/11/2015. I got a producer and I have taken my insurance documents into the station within the 7 days. Thing is, I've still not heard anything? it'll be 6 months on the 20th May, should I receive a letter from the police/courts before then if I am actually going to get fine/points?
Kaaaarl - 24-Apr-16 @ 7:51 PM
woos - Your Question:
The guy that I share a house with named me on his car insurance,,, as too did I with my car as he helps me take my 3 dogs out.. one day I was driving his car with my son and someone ran into us and drove off anyway the police found them,,,,, then all of a sudden I get a call from the police to say I was not on the cars insurance,,,,,, so I asked the guy whom I share the house, he said oh I renewed my insurance and forgot to put you on. so low and behold I have now got a fine of 300.00 and 6 penalty points can I fight this as if the guy admits that I was on there orginally then not I have the paperwork to prove I was on the orginal insurance help

Our Response:
This is a difficult one. If the house mate is willing to admit that he simply forgot to add you, a judge may be lenient but it is always your responsibility to keep up to date with these things.
NoPenaltyPoints - 5-Feb-16 @ 12:56 PM
the guy that i share a house with named me on his car insurance,,, as too did i with my car as he helps me take my 3 dogs out...........one day i was driving his car with my son and someone ran into us and drove off anyway the police found them,,,,, then all of a sudden i get a call from the police to say i was not on the cars insurance,,,,,, so i asked the guy whom i share the house, he said oh i renewed my insurance and forgot to put you on.... so low and behold i have now got a fine of 300.00 and 6 penalty points can i fight this as if the guy admits that i was on there orginally then not i have the paperwork to prove i was on the orginal insurance help
woos - 4-Feb-16 @ 2:01 PM
I dad issued an offence notice to which a fine and three points were given, I pleaded not guilty by letter and was given a court hearing. I pleaded not guilty in absence and gave details again , I was found guilty but the fine was doubled to £200 + costs. Why was the fine increased?
Carlos - 17-Sep-15 @ 10:30 AM
Rich- Your Question:
I was caught speeding in November 2014, I was doing 47 in a 40 in a area I was not familiar with. I have a company lease car, a few week after the office I was asked by our head office of this was myself driving and agreed, head office apparently filled in the paperwork and I was informed I would here something through the post. I never heard anything and every month a questioned head office that I had not received anything In June/July2015 my parents received a letter at there address from the police which after speaking with the police I pleaded guilty online. I then received a court hearing which I was told I did not need to attend as I had pleaded online, the court date was the 28th August 2015 I have just received another letter today to say that the case has now been adjourned until October 2015 I did explain to the police and when I pleaded online that the letter I had received had gone to a incorrect address and this was the first letter I had received? What do you think? Rich

Our Response:
Sorry but you have not made it clear which letter you did not receive? Clearly you received something at your parents' address. Did you check that your employer gave the correct address in the first instance? You would have to be able to prove that you hadn't received any prior communication in order to be successful in this. Professional legal advice would be advisable.
NoPenaltyPoints - 3-Sep-15 @ 11:56 AM
I was caught speeding in November 2014, I was doing 47 in a 40 in a area I was not familiar with. I have a company lease car,a few week after the office I was asked by our head office of this was myself driving and agreed, head office apparently filled in the paperwork and I was informed I would here something through the post. I never heard anything and every month a questioned head office that I had not received anything In June/July2015my parents received a letter at there address from the police which after speaking with the police I pleaded guilty online. I then received a court hearing which I was told I did not need to attend as I had pleaded online, the court date was the 28th August 2015 I have just received another letter today to say that the case has now been adjourned until October 2015 I did explain to the police and when I pleaded online that the letter I had received had gone to a incorrect address and this was the first letter I had received? What do you think? Rich
Rich - 2-Sep-15 @ 6:38 PM
@Dood. This seems odd, did the police not take your daughter's details at the time of the incident? You need to seek one-to-one help from a solicitor or the CAB. Take all the information and your documents with you so you have all the facts and details to hand.
NoPenaltyPoints - 20-Mar-15 @ 12:25 PM
My daughter was involved in a crash hitting a traffic light in my car but was insured on her policy that was sept 2014 my insurence company has been trying to contact her insurence with no luck but it's took that long that last month she got a £250 fine and 6 points for not being insured which she was and today I have received a court letter saying I have a £740 fine and 6 points for driving with out insurencewhen I wasn't even thereand I have 6 days to pay . 1 person in car fully compI'm fully compat home both got fines and points any ideas would be great
Dood - 18-Mar-15 @ 9:25 PM
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