Appealing against sentence for a motoring offence

What is a motoring offence?

A large percentage of the population currently have a UK driving licence, therefore a lot of motoring offences do get committed.

Some of the more common motoring offences are:

  • Drink Driving – Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol.

  • Speeding – Not following the speed limits.

  • Smoking and Driving – New laws have made it illegal to smoke for example if you use a company car or a taxi. Private vehicles are not yet affected.

  • Tyres – Illegal or defective tyres.

  • Hand Held Mobile Phones – You must now use a hands free device to comply with the law.

  • Seat Belts – If you are 16 years of age or over it is your responsibility to wear a seat belt.

  • Driving under the influence of drugs.

Penalties and convictions for motoring offences

There are now many different penalties which can be given to people when they are caught committing a driving offence, these include:

  • Penalty Charge Notice – This is what happens when you park your vehicle illegally or ignore certain traffic rules and regulations. If you pay this fine promptly you normally get a 50% discount. The penalty does increase when no action is taken but if you wish to challenge being given this penalty, there is an independent adjudication service.
  • Fixed Penalties – These were introduced as a way of reducing the number of cases which the Courts had to deal with. The incentive is that the penalty will be less than the sentence passed by a court.

There are two types of fixed penalty:

  • Fixed penalty for a non-endorsable offence – Here, you get no points on your licence and the fixed penalty can be £30, £40 or £60

  • Fixed penalty for endorsable offences – Here, you do get points on your licence and the penalty is £60.  You are given a time limit after receiving a fixed penalty where you can either agree and accept the penalty or ask for a Court hearing.

With offences like drink driving, there are many different penalties depending on the severity of the incident. You can get points on your licence, be disqualified from driving, be fined, or even receive a prison sentence.

How to appeal against sentence for a motoring offence

Most of the successful defences to motoring charges are based on points of law or procedure rather than the actual evidence. The Human Rights Act guarantees a “right to a fair trial” and this is where much of the new power to motorists’ appealing sentences for driving offences comes from.

Most cases for driving offences will go through the Magistrates’ Court; if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the case then you do have the right of an appeal against conviction and or sentence to the Crown Court.

This kind of appeal is basically a re-trial where all evidence will be re-heard again and the case will be re-considered by a Crown Court Judge and two magistrates, neither of whom had any involvement with the initial hearing in the Magistrates’ Court.

When this kind of appeal happens, the Court starts completely from new so in effect they act as though the original Magistrates’ Court case never happened.  This can work for or against the person appealing as this does mean that the Crown Court can increase or decrease the sentence imposed by magistrates.

If you had been disqualified from driving a motor vehicle for a fixed period of time, it may be possible for this disqualification to be suspended pending appeal.

Another route of appeal which can be used is an appeal to the Administrative Court (High Court) by way of judicial review. This type of appeal is not a re-hearing but is decided on the basis that the Court has made an error of law which should be looked at being overturned.  This route is much more time consuming and complex and cases can take around 12 months to be heard.

If you wish to appeal against a sentence for a motoring offence it is always advisable to seek professional legal help.