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Terms

Legal terms can be confusing, but from this page you will be able to find many of these terms explained in plain English with full explanations.

This includes not only an offence you may have been charged with, but also some of the language used in correspondence from the Police and the Courts.

Driving Law believes that the more information our clients have the more successful we will be at avoiding disqualification or disproportionate penalties.

Driving Law

Index of terms

Being in charge of a vehicle with excess alcohol

Being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit by reason of excess alcohol is defined as driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on the public highway or a public place whilst under the influence of alcohol exceeding the prescribed limit.

Careless driving/driving without due care

This offence is committed when the accused's driving falls below the standard expected of a reasonable, prudent and competent driver in all the circumstances of the case.

Court process and procedure

If you plead guilty by post, your case will be dealt with in your absence and you will be notified of the outcome. It is important to consider whether you want to plead guilty.

Crown Prosecution Service

The Crown Prosecution Service reviews and, where appropriate, prosecutes criminal cases, following investigation by others.

Disqualification from driving

As a general rule, the Courts will punish high excess speeding offences with instant disqualifications.

Drink Driving

Drink driving is defined as driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle on the public highway or a public place whilst under the influence of alcohol exceeding the prescribed limit.

Failing to stop/report an accident

After an accident you have been involved in you must stop your vehicle and, if required to do so by any person having reasonable grounds for so requiring

Fixed penalty notice

The Fixed Penalty Notice scheme causes confusion for many people who wish to accept the Fixed Penalty Notice but also wish to plead mitigation (i.e. wanting to present their particular circumstances to the Court to have a lesser penalty) at the same time.

Magistrates’ Court

A Magistrates’ Court tries summary offences (i.e. offences where there is no jury to decide upon the verdict).

Mitigation

Mitigation is information provided to the Court after a guilty plea or a guilty verdict which seeks to persuade the Court that because of the circumstances you should be given a lesser penalty or sentence. It is not a denial of guilt.

Mobile Phone use

It is an offence to use a hand-held phone, or similar device, when driving.

Notice of Intended Prosecution

Speeding offences and traffic light offences which are proved by way of photographic evidence do not require the driver to be stopped at the time of the offence.

Penalty Points

As a general rule, the Courts will punish high excess speeding offences with instant disqualifications.

Road or other public place

The term "road" is defined at section 142 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as any length of highway or other road to which the public has access and includes bridges over which a road passes.

Seat belts

It is an offence for an individual not to wear a seatbelt if one is available to wear.

Speeding

If you are caught far in excess of the speed limit there is a high risk of an immediate disqualification from driving based on the recorded speed.

Summons

A Summons (summoning you to attend Court at a particular time or otherwise face a possible warrant for your arrest) is issued by the Magistrates' Court

Time limits the police must comply with to prosecute you

Many road traffic offences are  purely summary offences and in most cases proceedings are taken by way of the  laying of an information and the issue of a summons.

Traffic lights

It is an offence to fail to comply with traffic signs.

Totting up

As a general rule, the Courts will punish high excess speeding offences with instant disqualifications.

Using a vehicle without insurance

Under section 143(1)(a) RTA 1988 "a person must not use a motor vehicle on a road or other public place unless there is in force in relation to the use of that vehicle by that person a policy of insurance ".

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