Disqualified From Driving in Your Absence?
A few months ago I would have said that the courts will not disqualify you in your absence on the first occasion that a hearing is scheduled. I will not tell you that any more. I have had a number of cases in recent months where the client failed to attend court for various reasons (holidays, work etc) and then found out they’d been disqualified from driving in their absence.
Fortunately for my client James he found out by letter – a letter was waiting for him when he got home from visiting family abroad – so he knew he was not allowed to drive. Many people discover that they are disqualified from driving because they are stopped by the police and arrested for Driving Whilst Disqualified (which consequently can also lead to charges of Driving without Insurance as your insurance will not be valid).
James was lucky – had he been stopped whilst driving he would have faced a possible prison sentence! For driving whilst disqualified when he didn’t even know he had been disqualified!
You see Driving Whilst Disqualified is a very serious offence – punishable by an unlimited fine and up to 26 weeks in prison.
James knew about the hearing – but he was due to be away. He spoke with a friend who told him not to worry – they’d just put the points on his licence anyway and not attending wouldn’t make a difference. James’ friend was wrong.
James rang us for advice – desperate to regain his licence – he was a skilled worker in the building industry – he worked on sites all over the midlands – he needed to carry materials and tools to site each day. His working day began before public transport was running. We advised James that he could make an Exceptional Hardship application but we’d need to get the court’s permission – he was out of time to use the ‘automatic right of appeal’ as hadn’t returned until after the 21 day period.
We worked with James and I’m pleased to say the Crown Court granted his appeal, we were even able to persuade them to consider a costs order – meaning that James may receive a refund of some of his legal fees back from the Court. It was a good result but it was one which cost James, both financially and personally. The process caused him a lot of stress. The process involved 3 additional hearings (including the appeal hearing) – meaning not only did James have to pay for additional representation but he also lost valuable days at work.
All of this could have been avoided if James had contacted us for advice to start with. We would have explained to the court that he was on holiday and asked them to adjourn the hearing until after his return.
Remember – the law changes, and the way the courts interpret the law changes. Every case is different – and what happened to your friend may not be the same outcome you receive.
If you are charged with a motoring offence – don’t just think you know what will happen – give Forrest Williams a call on 01623 397200, let the experts give you advice.
We may well say that you don’t need a solicitor – but equally isn’t a 5 minute call to double check better than facing a day in court and potentially even a prison sentence?