Most people know that driving bans may follow for serious road traffic offences or a series of lower-level traffic crimes as a result of ‘totting up’. Few of our clients know that disqualifications can follow in other cases. For example, using a vehicle to facilitate the commission of an offence.
What is the relevant law?
There are two relevant provisions in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000.
General power to disqualify
Section 146 provides for a general power to disqualify a person from driving following a conviction for any offence. There is no requirement for a vehicle to have been used during the crime.
In Cliff  EWCA Crim 3139, the court held:
‘In our judgment, it is not necessary for the offence to be connected to the use of the motor car. The section provides an additional punishment available to the court. That is not to say that a court can impose a period of disqualification arbitrarily. There must be a sufficient reason for the disqualification. The reasons will, of course, be open to scrutiny by an appellate court, as they are in this case.’
The disqualification period can be ‘…for such period as it thinks fit’.
The case law is not always consistent (see for example Bye  EWCA Crim 1230 and compare with Cornell-Gallardo  EWCA Crim 3151). An advocate must always be careful to scrutinise the facts of each case and challenge the making of such orders if appropriate.
Using a vehicle to commit an offence
The provisions under section 147 of the Act are much better known and can only be used where the offence is punishable on indictment with imprisonment of 2 years or more or is an offence involving an assault. The magistrates’ only have power in relation to the latter.
In order to impose a driving ban, the court must be:
‘…satisfied that a motor vehicle was used (by the person convicted or by anyone else) for the purpose of committing, or facilitating the commission of, the offence in question’, or
concerning assault offences ‘…satisfied that the assault was committed by driving a motor vehicle’.
Again, the disqualification period can be ‘…for such period as it thinks fit’.
Some Judges appear to be very keen to use this power and impose driving bans, while it rarely seems to occur to others. It can be very much a lottery so far as the sentencing process is concerned.
The case law concerning this provision is complex and voluminous. All advocates need to ensure that they are not taken by surprise when it is mentioned (often with no notice) as part of the sentencing process.
All of our advocates are highly trained and able to respond appropriately to all sentencing and other issues.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice on driving offences, please get in touch. Call John Howey on 020 7388 1658, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us help. We deal with all manner of criminal offences on a daily basis and have the expertise to get you the best result possible.Read More
Many defendants who appear in the Magistrates Court receive a fine, particularly for road traffic offences. In the Crown Court, while a fine is not the most common punishment meted out, when they are imposed they tend to be very large.
Do I have to pay the fine all at once?
Sometimes a court will order full payment (and may give a period of time for this to be completed), but in many cases, the court can order that you pay in instalments, usually weekly or monthly.
You will not be given time to pay (and can be sent to prison straightaway if a fine isn’t paid) if:
(a) in the case of an offence punishable by imprisonment, you appear to the judge to have sufficient means to pay straightaway;
(b) it appears to the judge that you are unlikely to remain long enough at an address in the UK to allow the payment of the fine to be enforced in other ways; or
(c) at the same time that the fine is imposed, the judge sends you to prison.
What happens if I do not pay?
If you wilfully refuse to pay the fine, and all other enforcement options have been exhausted, you will be ordered to serve the default term in prison. That can vary from 7 days for a fine of up to £200 to 10 years where the fine is more than £1 million.
Before you get to that point, bailiffs will have become involved. They can seize property belonging to you to the value of the fine. They also add their own charges, which are often more than the original fine.
It is therefore very important that you make contact with your solicitor if your financial circumstances change and you are unable to pay a financial penalty. It is always better to try and resolve difficulties earlier than wait for enforcement proceedings to commence.
I would sooner serve the time than pay the fine, is that possible?
Yes, and no!
If you do not pay, then you will go to prison.
However, this does not extinguish the penalty; if the authorities later find that you have the means to pay the fine, action can still be taken to recover the monies.
How we can assist
The law concerning non-payment of fines and other financial penalties is complicated. This article is intended to give only a very brief overview of the issues involved.
If you have any concerns or simply to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact John Howey, on 02073881658 or email@example.com