Asperger’s Drink Driving Case Study

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

Asperger’s Drink Driving Case Study

Eighteen year old Ravindra Patil pleaded guilty to a drink driving offence at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court this week and was taken by surprise when the District Judge pronounced sentence.

With her alcohol-breath reading of 51mg, Ravindra has been warned by her case worker at Forrest Williams to expect a disqualification towards the top end of the lowest category, ie around 16 months. Further, she had been made aware that the District Judge had the discretion to sentence outside of these lowest category guidelines (ie 12-16 months) due to the aggravating factors in her case.

On the date in question, Ravindra had been driving along the motorway when she approached an area where roadworks were taking place and the speed limit reduced to 50mph. She told her case worker that, due to poor weather conditions at the time, she had struggled to slow down safely and that, to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of her, had taken evasive action and driven into a lane where cones and a traffic sign had been placed.

Ravindra admitted that she had made contact with several of the cones and, in fact, that the traffic sign had ended up embedded in her windscreen. Luckily, neither she nor her front seat passenger were injured. The car, however, was very damaged as a result.

Ravindra had explained to her case worker that she had felt so badly about what had happened that she had stood up in front of her college classmates and admitted her drink driving offence, as a warning to other people her age.

Ravindra, who shared with Forrest Williams that she has Asperger’s Syndrome, had saved hard to buy her own second-hand car and contribute financially towards the cost of her driving lessons, as she knew this additional expense would be very hard for her mother (a single parent) to meet.

The District Judge took into account all of the above and sentenced Ravindra to the minimum 12 month disqualification, with the completion of the drink drive rehabilitation course bringing this down to 9 months.

 

Ravindra, who attended court with her mother, was relieved and delighted. She said she had appreciated all the help received and that in future she would adopt a zero tolerance approach to drinking and driving.

 

If you have been charged with drink driving, call our expert team now on 01623 600645 or 0800 1933 999.

 

 

Drink Driving Mitigation To Reduce Length of Ban

 

 

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

Tracy Johnson of Forrest Williams

 

Case Study: Drink Driving Mitigation To Reduce Length of Ban

 

At Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Robin Handley was pleasantly surprised to discover that he would not have to attend court on a separate occasion. His guilty plea was entered and he was sentenced at his initial hearing.

 

When he had first instructed Forrest Williams to prepare his case and represent him at his hearing, Robin had been duly warned by his case worker that the high breath reading (102) for his drink driving charge would likely mean that he would have to meet with probation services, who would prepare a report, before he could be sentenced by the court.

 

However, on the day of the hearing, the District Judge ordered a stand-down pre-sentencing report be completed, following which an oral report was presented to the court. The report recommended that a community order be made, with a requirement to complete unpaid work.

 

Robin’s community order was for 12 months, with order to complete 60 hours of unpaid work.

 

He was also disqualified from driving for a period of 24 months, which will be reduced by 25% on completion of the drink drive rehabilitation course.

 

Robin was philosophical about his drink driving charge, but pleased with the outcome.

 

He told his case worker that he had held his driving licence for just over 30 years and that his licence was clean. Further, he had never been disqualified from driving in the past.

 

That the drink driving charge was out of character was a fact Robin’s barrister stressed to the court when presenting mitigation.

 

Robin, who previously worked as a milk man, now has to live with the consequences of his decision to have a few drinks with colleagues after finishing his milk round. With the disqualification in place, he cannot continue in this line of work and will have to find alternative employment. He realises that, in his 50s, this will not be easy.

 

Robin thanked his case worker and his barrister for supporting him through a stressful and challenging process, and ensuring that he spent as little time as possible in a court room.

 

If you have been charged with drink driving, call our expert team now for impartial legal advice and specialist representation on 01623 600645.

 

 

 

 

Spiked Drinks Argument Successful: Client Not Guilty

Katie Forrest of Forrest Willliams

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Spiked Drinks Argument Successful: Client Not Guilty

Unusually, it wasn’t Ana who contacted me about her drink driving case.  It was Geoff, the person who had spiked her drinks, causing her to be over the limit.

Geoff was very remorseful, and determined that Ana should receive the best legal representation to ensure that she was not disqualified from driving because of something he had done.

Geoff was happy to confirm exactly what had happened – how he had visited Ana as he knew she was recovering from dental surgery, how he had added alcohol to her drink to ‘cheer her up’, and how he had no idea she would be driving that night.

Ana herself didn’t know she would drive that night, but she woke up in so much pain she decided to go to the all-night pharmacy to get more medication.

On her journey, she was asked to pull over by the police as one of her brake lights didn’t work.  She was breathalysed, and over the limit.

Ana was facing a 12-16 month ban, through no fault of her own.

For a Court to allow a Special Reasons: Spiked Drinks argument, they must be satisfied that the defendant should not have realised they had drank the laced drinks.

In Ana’s case, her dental surgery was a very important part of the case.  It meant that she couldn’t taste anything, so had no idea that what she thought was a soft drink actually had alcohol in it.  And she was very groggy, so any physical sensations of inebriation would have been interpreted by her as being due to the surgery.

I explained the full procedure for a Special Reasons application to Ana, and guided her and Geoff through the case.  They were both very anxious about the situation as neither of them had had any dealings with the law.

At the Special Reasons hearing, both Ana and Geoff gave evidence well.  They were credible, with consistent accounts that stood up to cross-examination.

The magistrates did find Special Reasons, meaning that although Ana is convicted of the offence, she is not disqualified.

Ana was absolutely delighted and a very remorseful Geoff was incredibly relieved.

If you have been charged with drink driving, call our expert team now on 01623 600645. 

 

Drink Driving Duress Case Successful At Appeal

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Drink Driving Duress Case Successful At Appeal
by Katie Forrest, paralegal

We are delighted to share this recent case study, for a client who pleaded not guilty to a charge of drink driving on the basis of duress and was found not guilty at Appeal.

While we care deeply about every case we work on, there are some cases that particularly affect us, and this was one of them.

Lucy contacted us last year, in a state of upset.  She had instructed a very well known motoring firm to deal with her case, and felt that they were not giving her case any time or attention.  She suspected that while she could afford their fees, she wasn’t celebrity enough for them.  She felt let down and incredibly scared.

I bonded with Lucy immediately.  She is a wonderful, strong woman who has been through Hell for over 10 years as a victim of domestic abuse.

On the night in question, she had been at a friend’s house, something her controlling and physically violent husband hated.  He had been harassing her all day, telling her to return to the marital home.  Eventually, he spoke to her by phone and told her he was on his way to her friend’s house with a gun, unless she left immediately.

Lucy left and made the short drive home.  She had had some alcohol to drink, as she intended to stay overnight at her friend’s house. 

Unbeknownst to her, as she left, her husband rang the police and reported her as a drink driver.  She was stopped at her home and was found to be over the limit.

Lucy had pleaded not guilty on the grounds of duress – basically, she had no choice but to drive whilst over the limit.

Duress cases are very difficult in this country, as the Court’s common response when hearing any situation that may cause duress is that the person should have rang the emergency services for assistance.

In this case, Lucy was very familiar with calling the police, and she knew that she was punished afterwards for doing so.  She had learnt that, in reality, the police could not offer her protection from her husband.

After my initial conversation with Lucy, she was very keen to transfer her case to me.

Her trial was just days away.

I was happy to accept her case as I felt so strongly about helping her.  I made an application with the Court for them to adjourn the trial to allow me preparation time, but while they considered my request, I got on with ensuring we would be trial ready if we had to be.  There were early mornings, late nights, and lots of contact with Lucy over the weekend.  I still remember her surprise that I was prepared to speak to her on a Sunday evening!

Fortunately, the Court did allow an adjournment, giving us a few weeks to prepare Lucy’s case.

Lucy’s story was truly heartbreaking, and whilst the law in this area is challenging, each case has to be assessed on its own merits and I hoped that we would be successful.

At trial, Lucy’s case was heard by a District Judge who made such scathing comments about her situation that I made a formal complaint against him.  In particular, he asked Lucy why on earth she had allowed the abuse to continue, and suggested she should shoulder some of the blame because of that.

Needless to say, she was found guilty by that judge.

I lodged an Appeal for Lucy and chose Annette Henry QC as the barrister for her Appeal.

In my first conversation with Annette about this case, she told me “this will be a case that haunts me for the rest of my life”.

At Appeal, our thorough preparation and Annette’s advocacy skills were strong enough to counter the robust prosecutor, and Lucy was found not guilty of drink driving, due to duress.

Lucy is absolutely overjoyed and is free to move on with her life.

These are the cases that stay with us for life.  They are the reason we work incredibly hard and throw our hearts into what we do.

If you have been charged with drink driving and are looking for drink drive duress solicitors, call us now for an honest opinion on 01623 600645.

 

Drink Drive Lawyers Argue Special Reasons

 

 

 

Drink Drive Lawyers - Julia Coffin

Drink Drive Lawyers – Julia Coffin

 

When is a case not about winning or losing?

 

So often, as specialist drink drive lawyers, we receive calls from people desperate to avoid a criminal conviction, sometimes they accept they are guilty of the offence and are looking for a loophole whereas others are very clear that they did not commit the offence. 

 

We will never suggest that you pursue a defence unless we believe that you have a good chance of success, but ultimately our job is to make you aware of your chances of success and then act on your instructions to us.  We will always be honest with you about your chances of success.

 

We were contacted by a client, charged with Drink Driving, due to appear in Croydon Magistrates Court. Our client was desperate to save his licence and avoid a conviction. We reviewed the prosecution papers and advised him the police had done everything correctly, however from speaking to him it appeared he may have grounds to try to avoid the disqualification while pleading guilty to the offence.  The courts call this Special Reasons and these specific reasons relate to the offence itself not the offender. Our client told us that he had been to see friends and asked for a drink and his friends gave him a beer but with added vodka in it – vodka he was unaware of consuming.

 

We put forward a spiked drinks argument to the court, asking the courts not to disqualify our client as the excess alcohol in his system was not something he intended to consume. Unfortunately in this case the courts did not find Special Reasons – their judgement being that our client had asked for “a drink” and had not specified it’s content and as such did not meet their strict criteria.

 

They did however accept that he had consumed alcohol he did not appear to intend to and as such sentenced him to the minimum penalty the law allowed, a significant reduction on that suggested by his breath alcohol level.

 

To some this may seem like a loss – he wanted to avoid the conviction and we advised him to plead Guilty. He was still disqualified at the end of it. But the disqualification was significantly less than he would have been given had he not gone through with the Special Reasons application. And at the end our client was happy because he knew he had tried – and more importantly that we had always been with him during the process.

 

If you are charged with an offence give our drink drive lawyers a call on 01623 600645 – we promise to listen to your story and answer your questions open and honestly.

 

 

 

 

Nervous Client Thanks Drink Drive Solicitor

Steve Williams of Forrest Williams

Steve Williams of Forrest Williams

In Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Betty Lucknow told Steve Williams, drink drive solicitor and Senior Partner of Forrest Williams, that she was relieved to be sentenced for her drink driving offence.

For Betty, sentencing meant that the worry of the last few weeks was over, although she realised that the reality of a 12 month disqualification from driving would impact on her life, and her ability to travel for work.

However, as Betty had no previous drink driving offences, the court’s offer of a place on the drink drive rehabilitation course meant that, should she complete the course by the court’s deadline, her disqualification period would be reduced to just 9 months – the minimum possible for a guilty plea with mitigation.

When Betty first approached Forrest Williams, she was extremely upset and blamed no one but herself for what was, she said, ‘a stupid moment’ in which she chose to drive herself home instead of phoning for a taxi.

Betty explained to her case worker that she had been under a lot of stress recently, because of a house move and problems at work. On the date in question, she had been out for a drink with friends and had actually refused the offer of a further drink before deciding to drive home.

Unfortunately, as Betty made the journey home, she took an unlit single track country road on which she collided with an oncoming vehicle just as she came over the brow of a hill. She told her case worker there was significant damage to the sides of both vehicles, where they had rubbed together on the narrow road.

It was because of this collision that the police were called and Betty was subsequently breathalysed and charged on a low breath reading – just 40mg. (The legal limit is 35mg in breath.)

However, although Betty’s reading was low, her case worker explained to her that the fact that she had been involved in a collision with another vehicle was an aggravating factor to the charge – and something the court would take into account when sentencing.

All things considered, Betty was relieved to be walking away from the court after her hearing, even though she knew she could not drive for the next 9 months. As she told Steve Williams, more important than the inconvenience to her was the fact that no one had been injured on the night in question. She said she had learned from the experience and, in future, would never put herself in this position again.

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, call our expert team now on 01623 600645.

 

 

 

Who Is A Drink Driver?

 

 

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Katie Forrest of Forrest Williams

Who is a Drink Driver?

 

Last week I was contacted by a very respected, intelligent, professional who was charged with Drink Driving and due to appear in Mansfield Magistrates Court. He was ashamed.  He’s a clever guy and was disgusted at what he had done – in his eyes he saw it as he “has a PhD but was stupid enough to do this”.  Filled with remorse, he didn’t want to fight the charge – he just wanted support through it.

 

He needed reassuring that he was not alone.

 

My client had a reading of almost 3 times the legal limit, and he does not know how he came to be in his car – drinking that much and driving had never been his intention – he’d only gone for a drink with a friend. He was not excusing it though; he just needed someone with experience to guide him though the upcoming court case. We worked with him to prepare his case for mitigation – he understood that community service was an option and we talked him through this – we’ve even followed up with him since the hearing to see how he is getting on.

 

Drink Driving is a very emotive subject – for most people it’s a very clear cut and wrong thing to do – and they often have preconceived ideas about the ‘type’ of people who would commit such a “heinous crime” – so when they find themselves charged with this same offence it can really knock them. We understand that for many people it was a misjudgement, a mistake and that what they need is the support to come to terms with the events which led to their being in this situation.

 

Let me be very clear about this, there is no one type of “Drink Driver”. Everyone has their own story, their own circumstances. We know this and we know how important it is that your story be heard. In the past few months I have had calls from a primary school teacher, a university professor, a charity worker, a serving soldier, a plumber, an accountant, a stay at home mum, a salesman – the only thing connecting them was a charge and a deep sense of remorse for their actions. None had deliberately set out at the start of the night to commit an offence and some were even caught the day after.

 

We do not have a ‘one size fits all’ service – we know that each client has different needs. If you are charged with an offence and you want open, honest advice from a firm who will actually listen to you and build your case with you then give the Forrest Williams Team a call on 01623 600645. 

 

 

 

Minimum Ban For Drink Driving Client

 

 

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

Helen Newman of Forrest Williams

A Firm That Listens To You
by Helen Newman

 

I recently had a client charged with Drink Driving appearing in St Albans Magistrates Court. She was guilty of the offence, she fully accepted that she had been out drinking and had taken the decision to get in her car and drive home. Based on her reading a disqualification of 17-22 months was expected as that is what the sentencing guidelines suggest.

 

Except that wasn’t the full story. Yes she drove, but she drove to get away from unwanted attention, to get away from a guy that was not only following her but had climbed into her car uninvited and who she had to trick to get  back out the vehicle.

 

This client may have had a defence, she definitely had grounds to consider a Special Reasons application not to disqualify her – but she didn’t want to go down either of these routes. So instead we worked with her to build a case for mitigation and persuaded the courts to deviate from the sentencing guidelines and only impose the minimum tariff the law allows – 12 months which they then further reduced to 9 should she complete the Drink Driving Rehabilitation course, giving her the absolute lowest ban possible for any drink driving conviction.

 

We pride ourselves on our client care at Forrest Williams – to us every client should feel like they matter because they truly do! We have a hand picked selection of Barristers we use regularly who, like us, know and believe that every client deserves to have their story told. In this case once the Magistrates had passed sentence our Barrister challenged the Bench on something they said and then got them to reduce the sentence down further!

 

A FANTASTIC result for our client!

 

Now compare this with a call I had from an enquiry who had been promised by another firm that they would get her off her Drink Driving charge – they were 100% confident… they have a 94% success rate at trial… they can make sure she is not convicted of the offence – but when I asked her how they were going to do this she told me about a procedural error the police had made which meant the case would be dropped. Except the other firm hadn’t told her that the law on that point changed a few weeks ago and her case came after the change, so it was not a defence.

 

We do not make promises we cannot keep. We will not give you a success rate based upon a %. What we will do is advise you openly and honestly about your options. We do have a good success rate, but in large part because we do not suggest clients pursue cases unless we truly believe they have a good chance of success.

 

If you want your case handled by a firm who pride themselves on client care, who will listen to you, your needs and your views, understanding that it is your case and your life, then give the Forrest Williams team a call on 01623 600645.

 

 

Second Time Drink Driving With Breath Reading of 102mg Escapes Prison

 

In Chesterfield Magistrates’ Court this week, Ben Wrigley told Steve Williams, Senior Partner of law firm Forrest Williams, that he was extremely relieved to have avoided the custodial sentence he had been dreading.

 

For Ben, the experience was a painful reminder of a similar occasion four years ago when he had first been disqualified for a drink driving offence. At that time, he had resolved never to come before the magistrates again. But, during a period of crisis in his life he had make the fateful decision to drive after drinking and the police had pulled him over as he was making his way home.

 

With a third category breath-alcohol reading of 102mg, and a previous recent conviction for the same offence, Ben realised that he was facing more than a long disqualification period (at least 36 months) and a financial penalty.

 

Forrest Williams had made him aware that, however genuine his mitigating factors, he still faced the possibility of prison.

 

However, Steve Williams made the court aware of the personal factors which had resulted in Ben’s error of judgement, and also the fact that he had finally accepted he needed support with his misuse of alcohol.

 

The court was therefore minded to impose a disqualification of 40 months, with the offer of the drink drive rehabilitation course, which – on completion – will reduce Ben’s disqualification period by 25%.

 

It is hoped that, with professional support, Ben will now be able to take the steps needed to ensure he keeps his earlier promise of never appearing before the magistrates again.

 

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, get the experts on your side by calling Forrest Williams now on 01623 600645.

 

 

Drink Driving Accidents and Casualties

 

Estimated number of reported drink driving accidents and casualties, by month (Great Britain, 2005/09 average, 2011 and 2012).

 

These Department for Transport statistics summarise the estimated number of reported drink driving accidents and casualties for three time periods: 2005/09 (average), 2011 and 2012, with a monthly breakdown from January to December and a yearly total for each period.

 

What is initially interesting about these figures is that after the initial 2005/09 total figures for accidents (9,080) and casualties (13,760), there is a noticeable decrease in 2011 for both accidents (6,690) and casualties (9,930), followed by very little/no change in 2012, with a decrease of just 60 for accidents (to 6,630) and no change for casualties (remaining constant at 9,930).

 

If there is a relationship between the number of drink drive accidents/casualties and the time of year, then this is not reflected in these official statistics. For example, the highest number of accidents (830) and casualties (1,260) were reported in May of the 2005/09 average period.

 

However, the figures for 2011 indicate that the highest numbers of accidents (600) occurred in three months: July, October and December, with the highest number of casualties (920) being reported in July.

 

In 2012, the highest number of reported accidents had fallen (to 590), with the highest number of casualties dropping also (to 900, for the months of March and October).

 

When considering the lowest figures, there would appear to be more consistency in the data. A pattern can be identified in that February was the month in which the lowest numbers of accidents and casualties were reported for almost every time period. The figures for accidents fell, and then rose slightly, as follows: 690 (2005/09 average), 480 (2011) and 500 (2012).

 

The figures for casualties for the month of February also fell, and then rose slightly, as follows: 1010 (2005/09 average), 680 (2011) and 760 (2012).

 

Why the figures for accidents and casualties should be lower for the month of February, in these statistics ranging from 2005 to 2012, is impossible to explain. No qualitative data is presented with this table. It would be interesting, however, to capture and analyse further data across wider time periods (ie pre-2005 and post-2012) to see if the patterns remains constant.    

 

If you have been charged with a drink driving offence, call our expert team now for honest advice on 01623 600645.