psychological damage

Case Study: Drink Driving – Community Service/Custodial Sentence Avoided Successfully

This Case Took Place at Chelmsford Magistrates

To keep our client’s identity confidential, they will be referred to as ‘Hannah’’ for this case study

Hannah came to us after being charged with Drink Driving, after being approached by police in a KFC car park. Hannah explained to us that following the breakdown of her relationship, she made the regrettable decision to consume multiple alcoholic drink and drive to her son’s house.

On the way to her son’s house, Hannah decided to go through a KFC drive through to order some food. Unfortunately, during this visit Hannah crashed her vehicle in to the post surrounding the drive through and continued to try and drive away. This led a member of the public to block in Hannah’s car in order to protect other road users until police arrived. As a result of this, there was multiple aggravating factors present, which held the potential to take Hannah’s sentence from a driving to disqualification to potential custodial sentence. 

A breakdown of Hannah’s aggravating factors are as follows;

  1. Driving her vehicle in an unsafe manner… ‘the Defendant was seen driving their vehicle in an unsafe manner…the defendant has been seen by a member of the public mounting kerbs around the KFC drive through and causing extensive damage to their car’ (An extract taken from a police witness statement).

    The Magistrates Guidelines state that ‘Evidence of unacceptable standard of driving’ and being ‘ involved in an accident’, as aggravating factors when determining sentencing.
  2. Hannah had disclosed to officers she had travelled over twenty minutes while intoxicated.

The Magistrates Guidelines state ‘Very short distance driven’ as a factor reducing seriousness. Therefore, although we do not know for sure the speed in which Hannah was travelling at, twenty minutes is a substantial amount of time to be driving under the influence. This is not directly listed on the Magistrates Guidelines as an aggravating factor, but given the contrary would be favourable , therefore this could be raised to increased sentence given.

  1. Hannah tried to drive her car following the crash/collision.
    Hannah attempting to start her car in an effort to drive off, also could demonstrate an intention to continue committing the offence.

 As Hannah was clearly intoxicated at the point, we put forward argument that the Defendant was not intentionally breaking the law, and her poor decision making was a result of being intoxicated and in a high state of distress.

  1. The still images within the IDPC showed Hannah’s car queuing in the KFC drive through and Hannah’s journey through the collection window and into the car park.

    Throughout these images it is clear Hannah is driving her vehicle in the vicinity of multiple members of public, both in vehicles and walking outside. The Magistrates Guidelines state that a ‘high level of traffic and pedestrians in the vicinity’ is an aggravating factor when considering sentencing. It is clear from all the images referenced throughout the IDPC; this can be proven beyond reasonable doubt with ease. The prosecution therefore could argue that Hannah put multiple members of the public at risk at the time the offence took place and this could likely increase the sentence given

We explained to Hannah that as she had tested positive for 86ug of alcohol, she would be placed into the second sentencing band for drink driving. The Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines state for this level of alcohol, Hannah would be facing between a 17-22 month driving disqualification and a potential community service order. Given the above multiple aggravating factors, the Magistrates could increase Hannah’s sentence if they see fit. Given this offence carries the potential of a custodial sentence, this could now be endorsed by Magistrates. 

Hannah informed us she was most concerned with being forced to serve a custodial sentence but could manage some community service. With this in mind, to prepare for Hannah’s case we obtained very in-depth mitigation regarding her personal circumstances to ensure it was as strong as possible. We also obtained a selection of supporting statements from Hannah’s employer and character references for her friends/family. As Hannah was very anxious regarding the upcoming hearing, we arranged a conference between Hannah and the barrister who would be attending court with her, to put her mind at rest. We then provided Hannah’s barrister with very in-depth instructions. 

At Hannah’s sentencing hearing we presented her in depth mitigation focusing on her character and supporting statements. Whilst the prosecution did raise the aggravating factors at the hearing we were able to mitigate these successfully and the prosecutor eventually settled on a £200 raise in prosecution costs. 

The Bench sentenced Hannah to 19 month driving disqualification with no community service or custodial sentence. They also offered a drink drive awareness which when completed would remove 6 months from her driving disqualification. As Hannah entered a guilty plea, this earned her a 25% credit towards her fine. Her fine therefore, with the raise in prosecution costs, came to a total of £525.00.

This was a brilliant result given the both the minimal fine and disqualification received. After speaking with Hannah following the hearing, she was overjoyed with the result and felt like she could begin to get her life back on track. 

This case is a brilliant example of how instructing a solicitor really can make the difference in the sentence you receive. If you have found yourself in a similar situation to Hannah, please call one of our motoring specialists on 0330 912 2124.

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