The most common sort of case that we get asked to advise on is where someone is charged with drink driving and wants to keep the ban as low as possible.
We have a very good track record for keeping drink driving bans low.
We are often asked by clients and other solicitors what you should say to get the ban for drink driving reduced.
The first thing to realise is that it is as important what you don’t say as what you do say. We have sat though a lot of other cases that seem to be going well only for it all fall apart by one comment. We see it in the faces of the magistrates and often they repeat that poorly chosen phrase back to the client when handing out a lengthy ban.
The court will have guidelines to follow but they are just that, guidelines. They can go up or down.
You need to differentiate your case from all the others that the court will hear that day. It is easy for the court to get into the groove of simply following the guidelines. Why should they treat you differently?
Try and find something about your case that makes it stand out from others. What is it that makes your case less serious than it seems? What explanation can you give that the court will identify with?
It is a thin line between giving an explanation and making excuses. The court will listen to an explanation as to why someone who has never been in trouble before suddenly finds themselves facing a very serious charge. If you make it sound like an excuse that’s where it can all start going wrong, especially if you try to blame someone else.
Set your mitigation out in three parts, deal with the offence first. Give the background to the offence. This is where sometimes too much can be said. If there is no explanation say that. Don’t try and find one. We have often said ‘our client cannot understand how he got into this situation, he cannot give any explanation for this behaviour which is so out of character’. That is better than trying to find explanations that will annoy the magistrates.
The second part of the mitigation is your personal background, tell the court all the good things about you. Make the court like you.
Finally tell the court what effect the ban will have on you and why you want it kept to a minimum. Careful that you do not come across as demanding a reduction, you need to realise that you have made a mistake and the court do not have to be lenient with you.
It is important that you do it in this order so the that last thing the court hear is about you and the effect the ban will have, not the details of the offence. It is a hard line to draw between getting the court on your side and antagonising them.