The following section is intended to provide information on our services and fees. It also answers more general questions you may have about your case, such as where your case will be heard, what will happen at court and information about the sentences which may be imposed for drink driving offences
Do I need a solicitor?
If you are summonsed or charged to appear before a court, the answer to this question will usually be yes, unless your case is a straightforward one and does not involve any risk to your liberty or driving license.
When you contact us we will provide you with a very honest assessment of your case. If we do not think you need a solicitor we will tell you. We are not in the business of taking peoples hard earned money unless we believe we can help.
Do I need a specialist drink driving solicitor?
The answer to this question is probably answered by the fact that you are visiting the website of a specialist drink driving solicitor and beyond that the question is probably best answered by a further question:
If you had a toothache would you visit your Doctor or your Dentist?
Are you specialist drink driving solicitors?
We are specialists in drink driving law and use our knowledge and experience of this complex area of law to provide our clients with the best possible legal representation and outcome in their case. As specialists, we argue defences ranging from the factual e.g “I wasn’t driving”, to the very technical e.g. the presence of mouth alcohol renders the evidential breath specimen unreliable. It is our knowledge and access the best experts in the field which allows us to call ourselves “specialists”.
How successful are you?
We take pride in our work and the successes we achieve. The best way to evaluate our work is to consider our testimonials and what others say about us.
Can you guarantee the outcome of my case?
Our honesty and integrity prevents us from doing this. At the outset of your case however, using our experience and expertise in the area of motoring law we will indicate to you what we believe to be the prospects of success in your case and the best way forward. This openness and honesty, will allow you to evaluate your options and to decide what course of action you wish to take and whether you wish to instruct us.
Who will be preparing my case?
We have a team of motoring specialists, all of whom are supervised by Principal Solicitor Neil Davies, in order to ensure the highest quality representation.
Who will be representing me at court?
You will either be represented by Principal Solicitor Neil Davies, one of our solicitors or appointed barristers. We will discuss this representation with you during our initial consultation.
We are not middle men and do not simply farm out cases to other solicitors. The care we take in the preparation of your case and the standard of representation which you receive at court is what allows us to maintain our reputation and that is something which we would never compromise.
Can Principal Solicitor Neil Davies represent me before the court?
If you specifically request representation from Neil Davies, he will always do his best to assist. Representation by Neil Davies will cost an additional premium owing to demand, however we hope that this premium reflects the level of personal care and representation that you will receive at court.
Can I speak with Principal Solicitor Neil Davies?
Neil Davies is always willing to personally discuss any case with any client and makes an effort to speak personally with every client.
If you wish to speak with Neil, simply call and ask.
How will we communicate?
We will communicate by way of telephone, email or letter.
If you need to send a document to us, the easiest way is usually to email it as an attachment, to fax it or alternatively to do it the old fashioned way and to post it by Royal Mail.
Will I have an initial meeting?
In most cases we do not meet with clients at the start of a case. We prefer to take instruction over the telephone and by way of email, as this allows us to keep your costs down.
We will however, always meet with you in advance of any court hearing and will usually meet with you at least one hour before your hearing in order to discuss your case with you and to ensure that you are comfortable with court procedure and what is to happen in your case.
If you do wish to have an initial meeting, this can be accomodated, however this may incur additional costs for you.
For detailed information on our fees, please visit Our Fees
I am charged to appear at court. Is this the Magistrates or Crown Court?
All drink driving offences are heard in the Magistrates’ Court save with very limited exceptions and unless your case is connected to a separate more serious offence e.g. Dangerous Driving.
If your case is one which could progress to the Crown Court we will discuss this with you during our initial consultation.
Do I need to attend court?
In most cases of drink driving you will be charged to appear at court and granted unconditional bail to do so. This means that you must attend court on the appointed time and date, as if you fail to do so without reasonable excuse (e.g. medically unfit to do so), the court may issue a warrant for your arrest and you may also be charged with a further serious and imprisonable offence under the Bail Act 1976.
In some limited cases you may be summonsed to appear at court, where different rules will apply. If this applies to your case we will discuss this with you during our initial consultation.
I am busy on my court date. Can it be changed?
If you are unable to attend court owing to a pre-arranged serious commitment, then we can request that the court varies your bail date. The decision on whether to allow a change of date ultimately rests with the court and will usually only apply in circumstances where you are out of the UK by pre-arrangement or have an important medical appointment.
What do I do when I attend at court?
Upon arrival at court you should introduce yourself to one of the court ushers, who are usually situated at the front desk or near the courtroom in which you are to appear. They will take your name and will then call your name when your case is to be heard.
If we are representing you, we will meet you either outside the court or inside the court in advance of your hearing and will notify the court of your arrival.
Do I have to speak when I’m in court?
When you appear in court you will be required to confirm your name, address and date of birth. You will also be required to confirm your plea.
If we are representing you at court, we will explain your case to the Magistrates or Judge and you will not be required to speak further. If however, your case proceeds to trial, you may have to present evidence on oath in support of your case. In order that you are comfortable with this process, we will speak with you in detail about this before your case.
If you are representing yourself you will be asked to explain your case and again, if your case proceeds to trial, you may be required to give evidence on oath.
What if I can’t speak English?
If English is not your first language and you have difficulty understanding the court proceedings, we will ask the court to arrange an interpreter for you.
Sentences for drink driving
Can I go to prison for drink driving?
The answer to this is yes, as the maximum penalty for drink driving is a 6 month custodial sentence.
As to whether you are at risk of a custodal sentence (prison) will however, very much depend upon the facts of your case, including your breath/blood/urine reading and any aggravating features in your case e.g. was it connected to any other incident such as a serious road traffic collision.
I have never been in trouble before can I go to prison for drink driving?
Again the answer is yes.
In the case of Nokes (1978) RTR 101, it was accepted that there is no rule that a first offence should not attract a custodial sentence if the facts show it to be appropriate.
What are the courts other sentencing options for drink driving?
Dependant upon the facts of your case, the court could sentence you by way of any of the following:
- Community Order
- Suspended Custodial Sentence
- Immediate Custodial Sentence
What is a community order?
A community order is an order that may require you to do one or a combination of the following:
- Carry out unpaid work in the community
- Undergo supervision by attending regular meetings with a probation officer
- Attend on a Programme
- Undergo Alcohol Treatment – intended to address any underlying alcohol problems
- Observe a curfew between specified hours
(There are 12 requirements in total and please note that the above is not a comprehensive list and is intended to include only the main requirements which may be imposed in connection with the sentencing of a drink driving offence).
If you don’t comply with the requirements of your community order, the court may impose addtional requirments or make the requirements more onerous e.g. give you more hours of unpaid work, or if the court considers that your breach is severe may even revoke the order and send you to prison.
What is a “suspended custodial sentence”?
In some cases a court may decide the offence you have committed is so serious that it should attract a custodial sentence, however determine that such a sentence should not be imposed if you comply with certain conditions. If you are made subject to a suspended sentence the court will announce the length of your custodial sentence (up to 6 months for drink driving offences) and also the length of time for which the sentence is to be suspended (12 months to 2 years). The conditions which the court will impose will usually include the following:
- That you commit no further offence within the length of the suspended sentence
- That you complete certain requirements (please see community orders above)
If you breach your suspended sentence, the courts starting point is to send you to prison and only in limited cases where there are extenuating circumstances or you are very close to the end of the order will the court be persuaded not to.
Court Fines and Costs
If I am convicted how much will I be fined for my drink driving offence?
Drink driving offences sentenced by way of the imposition of a fine are subject to a maximum fine of £5,000.00.
This does not mean however, that this is the amount you will be fined, as your fine must be imposed in accordance with your financial means.
In calculating your fine, the court will take account of your net (after tax) income and your fine will usually be calculated on the b1 1/2 weeks income.
Will I have to pay anything else apart from my fine?
Yes, you will usually also be required to pay a contribution towards the prosecutions costs and also a Victim Impact Surcharge.
On a guilty plea prosecution costs will usually range between £35 and £85 depending on the court at which you appear.
If you plead not guilty and your case progresses to trial, your costs will be more. For a trial before the magistrates court the prosecutions costs will usually be anywhere between £300 and £750.
The Victim Impact Surcharge is a statutory scheme which requires the payment of an additional charge, to be used in connection with the victims of crime. The charge is currently set at £15.00, however this is set to rise in the future.
Please note that these costs are provided as a guide only and will vary from court to court.
I am told I will get “credit for my guilty plea”. What is credit for a guilty plea?
In law, the magistrates must give you credit for your guilty plea, by way of a reduction in the penalty which is imposed.
If you plead guilty at the first opportunity, typically regarded as the first hearing, you will receive a reduction in your fine of 1/3 or 33%. If you plead guilty at a later stage in the proceedings you will still get credit for your guilty plea but the amount of credit will reduce on a sliding scale, so that if you plead guilty moments prior to your trial your credit will probably be no more than 10%.
It should be noted that this credit strictly applies to your fine and not to the number of penalty points imposed on your license or the length of any disqualification. Although, it is generally accepted that the magistrates will tend to be more lenient in the length of disqualification imposed if you plead guilty as opposed to being convicted after trial.
Can I ask for time to pay my fine?
Most magistrates courts will ask you to pay your fine immediately or at least make some contribution towards it on the day of your hearing. If however, you simply do not have the means to pay or are experiencing financial difficulty, the court will take into account your financial circumstances and if appropriate will allow you time to pay.
In many cases where there is a question over a persons ability to pay, the court will impose a 14 day collection order, meaning that the fine must be paid in full within 14 days or alternative arrangement must be made with the courts fines officer. If you do neither, the amount you owe may be increased and bailiffs may be instructed to recover the money.
If you cannot pay your fine or have any difficulty in doing so as agreed, you should immediately contact your local court fines office and explain the situation. They will usually be able to assist and providing that your position is understandable a new payment plan may be agreed.
What happens if I don’t pay my court fine? Can I go to prison?
Yes, although this should be the courts last resort and may only be imposed if your failure to pay is shown to be the result of a “wilful refusal” or “culpable neglect”.
A sentence of imprisonment will never be imposed without at least one hearing before the court, a “means enquiry”, which will allow you opportunity to explain your financial circumstances and your reasons for non-payment.
If you are required to attend court in such circumstances you should immediately seek legal advice.