Pleading Guilty to Dangerous Driving

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Pleading Guilty to Dangerous Driving

If you plead guilty to a motoring offence, unless you are able to argue you are not guilty or have special reasons, you may face a disqualification or serious fine and in some circumstances imprisonment. However, pleading guilty often brings less severe penalties than challenging a driving offence may, and the Magistrates’ Court may even reduce a sentence in line with a guilty plea. This can be significant for more serious offences, but it is likely that they will still carry strong penalties.

If you are planning to plead guilty to a driving offence, or if you have just received notice of your offence and are unsure what to do, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. Motoring offences can carry life-changing repercussions and you should not attempt to navigate one without the support of an expert motoring offences solicitor.

For more information on how our team can help, call us today on 0345 872 6666, or arrange a time for us to call you back by filling out our online contact form.

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How JMW Can Help

JMW offers a ‘fixed fee’ service designed to assist you in preparing detailed and effective mitigation aimed at persuading the court to exercise leniency when imposing the penalty. Further information regarding ‘fixed fees’ can be found at our Motoring Solicitor Fees page

For most people, a court appearance is alien to them. Some people find court proceedings intimidating. This can sometimes impact on their ability to communicate all of the information and issues they wish to be taken into consideration by the court. Your solicitor will attend court alongside you and represent your interests, communicating your case on your behalf to ensure you can convey all of the information necessary.

With our ‘fixed fee’ service, we offer the following:

  • Telephone conference meeting with your solicitor
  • Representation at the hearing by either a solicitor or an expert motoring law barrister
  • A full pre-hearing briefing with regards to court procedures and what to expect at court
  • A conference with your legal representative on the date of the hearing
  • A full post-hearing debriefing (to discuss the penalty imposed, the implications and any further options that may be available to you)

What Does it Mean to Plead Guilty to a Motoring Offence?

Pleading guilty to a motoring offence signifies an admission of guilt. It is a declaration to the court that you accept responsibility for the alleged offence, in this case, dangerous driving. A guilty plea can potentially expedite the legal process as it eliminates the necessity for a trial. However, the consequences of a guilty plea are significant. 

Convictions for dangerous driving can lead to hefty fines, disqualification from driving, or even imprisonment. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to seek expert legal advice before making such a decision.

If you have had two or more disqualifications for a period of 56 days or more, within the last three years, you will receive a mandatory minimum two-year disqualification.

Once your disqualification has ended, you will be required to complete an extended retest before you will be allowed to drive again. You may also receive a community order or imprisonment for a period of up to two years.

What are the benefits of pleading guilty?

There are several potential benefits to pleading guilty for a motoring offence:

  • Resolution time: pleading guilty can speed up the legal process as it eliminates the need for a trial. This can reduce stress and legal costs associated with prolonged court proceedings.
  • Sentencing reduction: in some cases, a guilty plea can result in a more lenient sentence. The court may reduce the severity of your sentence due to your admission of guilt as it demonstrates remorse and cooperation with the legal process.
  • Legal certainty: by pleading guilty, you eliminate the uncertainties associated with a trial. The outcome of a trial can be unpredictable, and a guilty plea provides a degree of control over the process.

What are the consequences of pleading guilty to a motoring offence?

There can be some serious consequences of pleading guilty to a motoring offence:

  • Criminal record: pleading guilty to careless driving or dangerous driving, or another motoring offence, will result in a criminal conviction. This can affect future employment opportunities and travel, particularly to countries that have restrictions on entry for individuals with criminal records.
  • Financial implications: you may be ordered to pay a fine, which can be substantial depending on the severity of the offence. In addition, you may be liable for any court costs that arise as part of your sentencing process.
  • Driving penalties: convictions for serious motoring offences often result in a period of disqualification from driving. In some cases, you may be required to retake your driving test before your driving licence is reinstated.
  • Imprisonment: some motoring offences carry enough weight to warrant imprisonment. For example, the court can impose a custodial sentence as part of a dangerous driving penalty. UK regulations may allow for this to be reduced or removed, but this is never guaranteed.

Our team can guide you through the process, helping you understand the potential benefits and consequences of pleading guilty.

Will pleading guilty lead to an automatic conviction?

Pleading guilty to a motoring offence will lead to a conviction. This conviction will be entered into your criminal record and the court will then proceed to sentencing, during which it will determine the appropriate penalty for the offence. This could range from a fine to a disqualification from driving, or even imprisonment for serious offences.

If I plead guilty, will I still have to go to court?

Even if you plead guilty to a motoring offence, you will still need to attend court for your plea to be officially recorded and for sentencing to take place. During the sentencing hearing, the court will consider any mitigating factors presented before deciding the appropriate penalty for your offence. An experienced solicitor can assist you in presenting these mitigating factors, potentially influencing the court to deliver a more lenient sentence.

How Will Pleading Guilty Impact My Driving Record?

Pleading guilty to a motoring offence will have significant implications for your driving record. If you plead guilty to an offence like dangerous driving, the court will impose a disqualification from driving or endorse your driving licence with penalty points, the number of which depends on the severity of the offence and if special reasons applies.

What Happens at the Guilty Plea Court Hearing?

At a guilty plea hearing, you are formally presented with the charges against you and asked to enter your plea. If you plead guilty, your plea is recorded, and the case proceeds to the sentencing phase.

Before sentencing, your solicitor has an opportunity to present mitigation on your behalf. This is when they provide information to the court about your personal circumstances, the context of the offence, any remorse shown, and other factors that could lead to a relaxed sentence.

After considering the prosecution's case, your plea and any mitigating factors, the court will impose a sentence. This could range from a fine to imprisonment, depending on the nature and severity of the offence.

What Should I Say in Court When Pleading Guilty?

Your solicitor will guide you through the entire process of your court hearing. Prior to your hearing, they will help you understand what to expect and what your responsibilities will be. Your solicitor will be able to speak on your behalf in response to most questions the prosecutor or court may have.

After your guilty plea, your solicitor will have an opportunity to present a mitigation plea. They may discuss aspects of your personal life, any remorse or regret you feel, the circumstances surrounding the offence, and any steps you've taken to rectify the situation. Your solicitor can guide you on what to say if you are asked to speak directly about these matters.

Can I Change my Plea From Guilty to Not Guilty After I Have Already Entered a Guilty Plea?

In some cases it is possible to change a plea from guilty to not guilty after the initial plea has been entered. However, the process is far from straightforward. It involves applying to the court for permission to change the plea, and this is granted at the discretion of the court.

Several factors will be taken into consideration by the court, including the stage of the proceedings at which the change of plea is sought, the reason for the proposed change, and whether there is any prejudice to the other party or to the administration of justice.

Given the complexity of the process and the potential consequences, it is always advisable to consult with a knowledgeable solicitor before deciding to change a plea. At JMW, our expert legal team is on hand to guide you through each step, ensuring that you fully understand the implications of your decisions and are able to make informed choices.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Plead Guilty?

While it is possible for you to represent yourself and plead guilty to a motoring offence, it is strongly advised that you seek professional legal advice before doing so. The consequences of a guilty plea can be significant and any mistakes made along the way may result in more issues. Your solicitor will be able to ensure you understand the implications of this and help you to make an informed decision on whether or not to plead guilty.

An experienced solicitor can provide invaluable guidance throughout the legal process. They can explain the potential consequences of a guilty plea, advise on whether it is in your best interests given the circumstances of your case, and assist with mitigation to aim for a lesser penalty.

Can I Enter a Guilty Plea by Mail or Online, or Do I Have to Appear in Court?

In the UK, for certain minor offences, you might have the option to plead guilty by post or online. However, for more serious offences such as dangerous driving, you will be required to appear in court to enter your plea. The court needs to ensure that your plea is entered freely and voluntarily, and the judge may want to ask you questions about the offence.

Additionally, if you plead guilty, the court will proceed to sentencing, which generally happens during the same hearing. Pleading guilty by post to a motoring offence can make this difficult, so the court may require you to do so in person.

Can I Appeal the Decision if I'm not Satisfied with the Outcome of my Guilty Plea?

Under certain circumstances, you can appeal the decision if you are not satisfied with the outcome of your guilty plea. In the UK, you generally have the right to appeal against the severity of a sentence or against a conviction if you can demonstrate that an error was made in law during the trial process.

However, appealing a sentence or conviction after pleading guilty can be complex. This is because by pleading guilty, you have accepted liability for the offence. Nonetheless, there may be grounds to appeal the severity of the sentence if you can demonstrate that it is manifestly excessive or wrong in principle.

Appeals should be made as soon as possible as they usually have 15 business days of the sentence being passed. It is highly recommended that you seek professional legal advice before launching an appeal, as the process is complex and there may be further consequences to consider.

Why Choose JMW?

Due to our decades of success in handling motoring offences, including dangerous driving, JMW has been recognised by the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners guides as a top UK law firm. This means, when you make a claim with our solicitors, you can do so with the confidence that you have award-winning professionals at your back.

We understand that dealing with motoring offences can be a stressful and confusing process. Our solicitors will guide you through every aspect of pleading guilty to dangerous driving, including helping you to understand whether this is the best option for you.

FAQs About Pleading Guilty to Motoring Offences

Can I plead guilty and still attend a defensive driving course or traffic school to reduce the impact on my record?

Whether you can attend a defensive driving course or traffic school to reduce the impact of a guilty plea on your record largely depends on the nature and severity of the offence committed. For minor offences, such as speeding, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course instead of receiving penalty points. However, this is typically not an option for serious offences like dangerous driving.

The decision to offer a driver the option to attend a course instead of receiving a penalty is at the discretion of the police and not a guaranteed option. Therefore, pleading guilty to a dangerous driving offence will generally lead to a conviction, potential disqualification and penalty points on your licence.

How will pleading guilty to a motoring offence affect my future employment prospects?

Pleading guilty to a motoring offence can have implications for your future employment opportunities. A conviction becomes part of your criminal record, which employers can access through a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check.

For jobs that require driving, a dangerous driving conviction can significantly affect your employability. Many companies require clean driving records, especially for roles involving company vehicles or extensive travel.

Additionally, certain professions, such as law enforcement, education and roles involving vulnerable individuals, require comprehensive DBS checks. A criminal conviction could affect your ability to work in these fields.

Talk to Us

If you are facing a driving charge and need legal help seek legal advice as soon as possible. Call our expert pleading guilty to driving offence solicitors on 0345 872 6666 or complete the form on this page.