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The Criminal Defence Service which from 2nd April 2001 replaced the old system of criminal legal aid and provides criminal services to people accused of crimes.CLS

The Community Legal Service, bringing together networks of funders (eg Local Authorities) and suppliers into partnerships to provide the widest possible access to information and advice.


DOBSONS solicitors and advocates - encouraging debate!!

DOBSONS website features on criminal defence law - CALL US 24/7/365 ON 0208 315 4450 (or Emergency no. 07831 524739)

Sentencing Advice - Motoring Offences - CALL US 24/7/365 ON 0208 315 4450 (or Emergency no. 07831 524739)

The purpose of this document is to provide general guidance to those who are to be sentenced in respect of driving offences. If you would like any specific advice on which you wish to rely, please contact DOBSONS so that we can advise you in the particular circumstances of your case.


There are many road traffic offences that are dealt with by the courts, ranging from the less serious – such as speeding and minor document offences, to the most serious such as aggravated vehicle taking and causing death by dangerous driving.

Some offences are punished only by fine and penalty points on your driving licence – for example speeding or careless driving, but they can also carry a risk of disqualification from driving.

Other offences can carry the risk of community penalties and even prison – for example driving with excess alcohol or driving whilst disqualified.

When sentencing for a driving offence the court will decide the appropriate punishment – fine, points, disqualification, community penalty or even imprisonment.

DOBSONS can advise and represent you on this.


When a person is convicted of most driving offences not carrying a mandatory disqualification, the court must impose penalty points.

Some offences carry a fixed number of points that must be imposed. Other offences give the court a range of points which may be imposed. Where this is the case the court must consider the seriousness of the offence, and impose an appropriate number of points.

Any points awarded against a road traffic offender, are noted on the paper part of the driving licence. This is known as an ‘endorsement’. The date of the offence, type of offence and court imposing the points are also noted on the licence.

Penalty point offences remain on a licence for four years, after which an application to DVLA may be made for their removal.

DOBSONS can advise and represent you on this.


If a person receives 12 or more points during a three year period they become what is known as a ‘totter’. A totter is liable for disqualification for a minimum period of 6 months. The minimum period increases where a person becomes a totter for a second or third time.

The court has very little discretion other than to disqualify, unless they are satisfied that to do so would cause ‘exceptional hardship’. Exceptional hardship is difficult to show, but normally must relate to some real hardship that would be suffered by a person other than the offender.

DOBSONS can advise and represent you on this.


There are offences which carry discretionary disqualification and others that carry mandatory disqualification. If the court has a discretion, and chooses not to disqualify, then penalty points are normally imposed. This could still result in a person being liable to disqualification as a ‘totter’.

If the court has no discretion then they must disqualify, unless satisfied that there are ‘special reasons’ for not doing. Normally offences involving obligatory disqualification carry a minimum period of disqualification that must be imposed.

DOBSONS can advise and represent you on this.


These are mitigating circumstances which if accepted can persuade a court not to disqualify or to disqualify for a shorter period than the law would otherwise allow. Special reasons must relate to the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence, and do not include personal problems. Examples of ‘special reasons’ which have been upheld in the past include – where a person’s drinks had been spiked with alcohol, unknown to them, which resulted in that person being over the limit. Another example has been where a person has been forced to drive as a result of an unavoidable emergency situation. Where special reasons are relied upon, the courts normally expect to hear evidence from the defence. Where special reasons are found, and a court does not disqualify, penalty points are normally imposed. Again this could result in a person being liable for disqualification as a ‘totter’.

DOBSONS can advise and represent you on this.


Driving while disqualified is a very serious offence which is often dealt with by an immediate prison sentence – even for a first offence! It is considered serious as it is viewed by Courts as being similar to a ‘contempt of court’.

A vehicle may be ‘driven’ in the eyes of the law, even if the engine is switched off and it is moved a matter of inches. Although technically the offence can only be committed on a ‘road or other public place’, that is interpreted widely by the law - it can also be committed in private places to which the public have access (such as a pub car-park).

We advise any person disqualified from driving to avoid sitting in the driver’s seat of any motor-vehicle or astride any motorbike during the period of their disqualification.

A person disqualified from driving must apply to the DVLA for the return of their licence, and is well advised to have their licence returned to them before driving. If you fail to do this you may remain disqualified, even though the period of disqualification set by the court may have come to an end.

DOBSONS can advise and represent you on this.


We must warn you that you should report to your insurance company, the details of any driving conviction. Failure to do so could make your insurance policy invalid and could be a criminal offence.

DOBSONS will be delighted to advise and represent you in any of the above matters.

Previous "bad character" - CALL US 24/7/365 ON 0208 315 4450 (Emergency no. 07831 524739)

If you have done something wrong in the past - whether a criminal court conviction or not, the prosecution may try to use that against you at your trial - even if you are pleading NOT guilty! DOBSONS can help you argue that the prosecution should be stopped from doing this - it may not be relevant to the case against you and may be very unfair to you.

DOBSONS can help you put a stop to your past being used against you.

"Hearsay" evidence - CALL US 24/7/365 ON 0208 315 4450 (Emergency no. 07831 524739)

The prosecution may try to use against you at your trial things said and done that may be secondhand information. Hearsay is very difficult to challenge and it may be very unfair to you if the prosecution are allowed to use this against you.

DOBSONS can help you argue that hearsay evidence should NOT be used against you.

Identification evidence - CALL US 24/7/365 ON 0208 315 4450 (Emergency no. 07831 524739)

Some of the most notorious miscarriages of justice have taken place because of mistakes made in identification ("ID"). DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!

DOBSONS can help you avoid ID mistakes at both police station and Court