It is very clear to me, after 30 years of working in the legal profession in Scotland, that we now have a two tier system of justice. There is no doubt that if you have the funds available, you can afford the cost of defending a road traffic case and you will be able to pursue justice. It is also the case that you stand a very good chance of an acquital in many road traffic cases prosecuted in Scotland.
Our win rate of 90% goes a long way to proving that. Our cases are all privately funded by individuals or by their insurance companies.Drivers often add Legal Protection Cover to their Home Contents Insurance policies nowadays and it can be the best £30 they ever spend when they face a “Totting Up Ban” or something even more serious, like Death by Dangerous Driving!
We are currently working on, yet another death by dangerous driving charge. Funded by an insurance company. I am certain the accused would not have qualified for Legal Aid due to his ownership of property but I am also sure that the costs of defending the case could have caused financial ruin let alone severe stress and upset to himself and his family.
Personally, I do not consider that legal aid should be available for all types of cases and in all circumstances. The public purse just isn’t big enough for that. In a time when welfare benefits are cut to poor working families and foodbanks dot our citires and towns we need to realise that public spending priorities do exist for good reason.
There has to be discretion and it is, in my view, appropriate that the “interests of justice” and the interests of the State should be taken into account when establishing if Legal Aid should be granted to an accused. However it is clear that an imbalance exists. An article in the Mirror highlights the problem with Legal Aid and is worth publishing again here as it sets out the strong case for Legal Aid and it makes it clear that there needs to be a better way. I would suggest that we can learn a great deal from a system that the English used to have!
They tried to follow our example by changing how cases are paid for in criminal cases but I think they have made a change for the worse. There was a time when a “defendant” in England, could recover his lawyer’s legal fees and full court costs if he won ie He was innocent. That seems perfectly appropriate to me. If someone is willing to take the risk of hiring a good lawyer (He may find that it is expensive to do so) he should then have the State refund his fees should the State, with all that it has in it’s armoury, should fail to secure a guilty verdict.
It is time for change in Scotland. Lets ease the strain on the Legal Aid budget and make the accused pay their own legal fees where they can afford to do so, on the proviso that should they win their case they can recalinm their fee in full from the Scottish Government
The Tories didn’t face too much protest when they slashed the legal aid budget by 30% over the past 10 years. But some things can change people’s minds.
Here’s one thing that can change a Tory’s mind.
In June 2011 Tory MP Nigel Evans backed cuts to legal aid.
Just two years later he’s become a fierce opponent.
Mr Evans was accused of rape and sexual assault – then acquitted – but left with a £130,000 legal bill.
It used to be that acquitted defendants got reasonable legal fees paid back. If you were charged with a crime, but found innocent, you didn’t have to shoulder a big lawyers’ bill. But this is one part of the legal system where the government made big cuts. Now the government will pay for very basic legal representation for those accused, but then acquitted of crimes.
But if you want better lawyers, you’ll have to cough up yourself.
And basic can mean pretty basic: it could be the difference between paying a barrister £50 a day or £250 to defend you. Those who want to go for the best lawyers like Nigel Evans – who hired a top QC – have to foot the bill themselves.
If you’re found guilty, you could have a legal bill as well as a conviction: households with a disposable income of £22,500 will have to contribute to the costs. And households earning with over £37,000 a year in disposable income will have to pay it all back to the state.
The thresholds include partner income – so if you live with a partner who works – you have to count their income too.
So a journey through the courts could be financially crippling to the guilty and in some cases to the innocent too.
And most Britons won’t have the savings that Nigel Evans did to cover an unexpected £130,000 bill.
Even a simple road traffic case can cost thousands of pounds to defend. Many of those cases should not be afforded Legal Aid but it is only fair that those who pay for their own defence should be entitled to reclaim those legal fees where found to be innocent otherwise justice will only be available to the wealthy. Another line of division in a society that feels more and more factionalised into rich and poor, north and south, Scotland and England.The cost of defending a road traffic case needs to be addressed and should be addressed by the Scottish Government when dealing with the adequate provsion of Legal Aid in this country.
Drink Drive Awareness Courses
Reducing the length of your ban through Drink Drive Awareness Courses
The court reduce the length that you’re banned from driving if you complete the course within a certain time. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter.
Deciding to take a Drink Drive Awareness Course
You have to decide in court, when you are found guilty and if offered a referral, if you want to take a course or not. You won’t be able to change your mind at a later date.
Before going to court you can find a course that you want to be referred to if you are found guilty and banned from driving.
Alcohol alters people perceptions and decisions. People under the influence of alcohol will readily confess that they take chances that they wouldn’t do when they are sober and too often, those chances prove to be disastrous when made behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is estimated that the risk of a driver being killed while under the influence of alcohol is eleven times greater compared to those drivers who don’t have alcohol in their system.
The Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream through small blood vessels found in the walls of the stomach and within minutes, it travels from there to the brain where it produces the following effects:
When you take account all of these effects, it is obvious that drinking and driving is not a good mix. We all know it and in Scotland it is clear that drink driving is socially unacceptable. We are often asked in the new drink drive limit has increased the amount of cases we have for drink driving. The answer is no. If anything our case load for drink driving has reduced. We reckon this is because of social pressure and the fact that drivers now completely understand that any drink driving, even one drink is really unacce3ptable. The message seems to be getting through. The other side of that coin is that businesses have been devastated by the new behavior that is now happening in Scotland. Golf Clubs, community clubs, restaurants that rely on lunchtime sales, pubs that rely on food sales have all been badly affected by the drink drive limit reduction.
Let’s say you did go driving when you’ve had a drink. You suddenly hear the sound of the siren and see those unmistakable blue flashing lights. What happens next?
If YOU need a road traffic lawyer in Scotland feel free to call us on 0800 612 9597 and we will be pleased to meet with you and advise you on the percentage chance of us winning your case and the strengths and weaknesses of your position.
Making a Decision
It is a conscious choice to drink and drive or to put down the keys and take a taxi instead.
Educating members of our community through Drink Drive Awareness courses is a good way to prevent fatalities and injuries involving vehicular accidents. But for those who are facing a charge and a mandatory ban, get in touch today. We will provide you with a free case consultation to explain face to face what we can do for you to limit the damage and deal with this case in a discrete manner that avoids hassle and stress.
You may wish to contact our firm of choice in Scotland ismpsychologicalservices
You’ll be given a ‘certificate of course completion’ by the course provider when you complete the course. They will also send a copy to the court that sentenced you.
The court will tell DVLA so that your ban is reduced.
You’ll need to reapply for a driving licence and take a medical if you’re a ‘high risk offender’. You should check to see if you’re a high risk offender as the court may not have mentioned this. Check with your course provider if you’re unsure.
If you need help or assistance with any of this information please do not hesitate to get in touch with us today on 0800 612 9597
As a road traffic lawyer I see video evidence being used more and more in the courts of Scotland. We actively encourage our clients and former clients to install “In car” or “Worn on” video cameras and to keep them running whenever they are on the road. I have even had the situation where we bought a lapel micro video camera for a client who claimed he was being harassed by a police officer and was unable to go about his day to day business without constant fear of arrest on some trumped up charge.
Interestingly I have defended a fellow a solicitor where dashboard video evidence became utterly vital in securing an acquittal on a Breach of the Peace, Road Rage, type case. Conviction would have meant damaging his reputation and losing his job. This man and his solicitor wife were returning home from a social function when they were confronted by a two females in a car who flashed their lights at them signalling for them to stop, they had taken umbrage at how he had manoeuvred around a roundabout. When he stopped he was subjected to a barrage of abuse, he left the scene immediately but was followed by this person who subsequently went to a police office that night and reported him for dangerous driving. The evidence from his dashboard camera was instrumental in proving his accuser to be a liar and securing his acquittal.
We often reconstruct an alleged offence to enable the court to see the viewpoint of witnesses and exactly what can and cannot be seen from their vantage point. It would not be the first time that we have had evidence from witnesses where the video proves it would be impossible for that witness to see what they claim to have seen. We find this method particularly useful in cases where people are prosecuted for use of a mobile phone when driving as it sometimes helps us establish that the police simply could not have seen what they claim to have seen.
We recently concluded a death by dangerous driving case where the Crown had secured CCTV evidence from a nearby security camera. Their analyst reviewed the evidence, concluded our client had been travelling at a certain speed and was in a certain position and that lead to a fatal collision with a pedestrian. He gave this as his evidence, however when my assistant Steven Farmer reviewed that evidence for the 100th time he noticed that our clients’ motorcycle could be seen in 2 frames of the CCTV and not one and that the Crown expert’s speed and position calculations were therefore wrong, leading to the acquittal of our client who had been facing a lengthy jail sentence if convicted. This demonstrates that we have to be extremely careful about the weight we lend to what we can see on a video.
Our present Lord Justice Clerk has launched an Evidence and Procedure Review Report recently (In March 2015) where he chairs a working group that have set out proposals/suggestions regarding how the process of criminal trials in Scotland can be improved. The use of video evidence figures large in that paper and it is fair to say that it is a very controversial document as it seems to advocate the use of video in several revolutionary ways that in my personal view may hinder justice rather than assist it. Yes, I agree that contemporaneous video evidence taken at the time of the alleged offence or even re construction video can be of great assistance but I am deeply concerned that the report goes further and seems to prefer the video recorded evidence of eye witnesses rather than their testimony. Obviously we can all see the benefit of a video recording of a witness who is interviewed at the scene of the alleged crime, almost like a news reporter gathering comments from onlookers but the inherent weakness of that is that the so called witness is not on oath, is not in a court of law and is shielded from the scrutiny and cross examination of the defence. They may have little to go on other than body language and a gut feeling that this particular witness is not reliable and is lying or is unreliable because of something that has been said or a nuance from something that has been uttered. For justice to be seen to be done I would suggest that the defence must have the opportunity of questioning all witnesses, live, before a judge and jury. Even live video link evidence is a poor substitute for evidence from the witnesses in court however where we have children and vulnerable witnesses it is only right that they are protected from the stress and undue hardship of facing a former tormentor in open court.
Lord Carloway’s proposals on the face of it seem nothing more than the implementation of sound common sense in the light of a changing world where technological advances have made video and audio recording extremely cheap and ubiquitous. What we must be extremely careful about is the seduction of technology over the rule of law. Our evidential laws have worked well in preserving the rule of law and justice in this country. My fear is that we are led down the garden path of technological advancement to be met at the door by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That wolf being an irascible judge who demands to know what possible defence the accused might have to a charge when we can see video evidence that seems irrefutable. I believe that the passive neutral judge and jury of our adversarial system, are well worth preserving.
There is no doubt that the Evidence and Procedure Review Report is timely and entirely appropriate but if we see it being used to bolster the judicial role in the trial process I fear us moving away from the adversarial role that has served us well to an inquisitorial role that is so radically different from our traditions and our concept of a fair trial that there would undoubtedly, be casualties in the transition. The aim ,of the rule of Law in Criminal Procedure, in a democratic and rights based jurisdiction like ours, is to ensure procedural fairness whilst balancing the rights of the individual with the rights and interests of society in general. If a Judge or Sheriff takes a more active role in the trial process by questioning the need for witnesses where for instance we have some video evidence, then I fear we become more like the inquisitorial system but without the support of laws of evidence formulated and developed over centuries to keep that Judge or Sheriff in check and ensure that matters are progressed in a just manner for the accused.
Since our system has evolved around an adversarial approach, our laws of evidence and procedure are devceloped around that approach and therefore might be hindered and curtailed by a change to a more inquisitorial role for our Judges and Sheriffs. This opens the door to injustice and it only takes one injustice to make us all the poorer for it.
I am old enough to remember the case of Ernest Barry when in 1989 he was convicted and sentenced to jail for 18 years following “expert” evidence that identified him from CCTV evidence, as a bank robber, however 3 years later he was released when more experts (At the behest of the BBC TV Program “Rough Justice”) were able to demonstrate without doubt that the identification of Barry had been flawed and he was wrongly convicted.
What people don’t know is that the defence lawyer who represented Mr Barry faced a nightmarish situation of trying to obtain Legal Aid funding for the further experts review and testimony. He needed to find approx. £30,000 to pay for that report and the witness expenses. There was no facility in place with the Scottish Legal Aid Board to agree the payment before it was made. (They did not feel the expense was justified as there had been “expert evidence” at the time of trial and the issue resolved) The lawyer mortgaged his own home and funded that scrutiny of the video evidence and thereby secured the liberty of a man who would have been in jail for a further 15 years. (The Scottish Legal Aid Board ultimately refunded that fee in full) This is important because Legal Aid is being attacked from all sides at a time when we see more and more video evidence being introduced into our courts. We will need funding to check the authenticity and provenance of it and I suspect the Scottish Government might not be too keen on paying the video experts as they charge a great deal more than the £30 per hour presently charged by Legal Aid lawyers. Or as Alex Salmond might call them the “Clever Dick lawyers” and judges who are “Daft Toffs”
As a defence lawyer I would be appalled to stand by and watch the destruction of fundamental principles of fairness and justice in the name of technological advancement but not at all averse to the common sense application of video where we can all see that the uses of same are completely fair to ALL parties and not just the Crown this could go along way to securing speedy, just and efficient trials that will benefit us all.
When you are seriously ill, it is important to seek the best, most experienced doctor to take care of you. When your top of the range vehicle has broken down or needs to be serviced, you should look for a mechanic who specializes in solving the problem at hand. The same can be said when hiring a “road traffic lawyer”. You should look for someone who is competent and who specializes in the specific field that you need counsel for.
Hiring a road traffic lawyer should be done in the same way as hiring any other specialist; you should ask questions first before anything else so you will know the kind of service that you will get. Never be afraid to ask questions of the best as they will be pleased to tell you of their successes and their ability to deal with your particular case. Ask your friends and family for recommendations and seek trusted, independent testimonials from previous clients of the firm.
The length of the lawyer’s practice in a specific area of law is very important because experience is also a big part of the equation. There is an old adage that you can pay a lawyer for the law that he knows or the judges that he knows. Sounds from that as if judges are corrupt and nothing coul dbe further from the truth in this country. What it means is that personality does come into play and main actors in a case know each other they can use a “short hand” to communicate that can be very effective in resolving issues for the client e.g The judge knows he can trust what is being said by the lawyer and doesn’t need as much persuasion. When it comes to road traffic, look for a firm which has lawyers who specialize in the field. When you talk to an expert in road traffic law, you can be assured that the advice and information you are getting comes from people who have experience and the ability to get you the best result.
Nothing beats being provided 100% professional service. The testimonials of previous clients would really help you in assessing whether the service of a certain firm will be a good experience for you and help achieve the result you are after. Look for a guarantee of service. If these guys really are as good as they claim to be what type of guarantee backs their claims. Anyone can put a load of ancient, edited testimonials online as supporting their claims but where possible look for authenticity such as an independent review body. (We use Trust Pilot) Some others copy and scan their testimonials onto their site so you can see that they are indeed authentic. Look for recent testimonials and recent case results. Who cares what what their results were a year ago, things move fast in this industry and people move jobs and change position, so you could be looking at a testimonial for a person who has moved to a competitors firm.
When looking for specialist’s advice, you should look at the value rather than the price. We always talk about Costs -v- Benefits and explain that really only the client can work this out. You must however factor in all costs eg Future job opportunities, restrictions on international travel, costs of insurance increased for several years etc etc When you try to get service at a cheaper price, it may not be worth it at the end of the day. You would eventually end up wasting not only your money but your time and effort as well. Look for a road traffic specialist who offers valuable advice as opposed to only looking into the cost. Like all things in life you do tend to get what you pay for and you may discover the hard way that there are no “bargains” when it comes to seeking good quality legal representation.
All the lawyers, paralegals and support staff should be qualified with experience so they can take care of you better. You would not want to seek advice from people who knows nothing about your problem, right? Look for a firm which already defended clients in various courts throughout your area. Some services are now online that look like lawyers, sound like lawyers but are not lawyers. They are often simply referral websites developed by people who sell the case referral onto a law firm. Seek a firm that makes this their day to day bread and butter. It can be useful to look at Online Forums such as Pepipoo or Petrol Heads etc and look for mentions of the firm that you are looking to instruct.
Meet the lawyer who will be dealing with your case. Get an assurance that it will be that person when you go to court. Establish whether you can trust and talk openly to that lawyer about your predicament. It really does take a meeting so seek out a firm that will not charge for an intial meeting or who will include the intial meeting fee in your total fee. Ask them about their fees and don’t be shy. Explain your budget and seek a Fixed fee wherever possible. These cases can be nightmare and can be adjourned and delayed for several reasons all outwith the control of the defence team and you personally so try to get a ceiling on those costs. Don’t look for lawyers who will guarantee to win your case. No one can “guarantee” a win, if they do then run a mile!
Look for someone who will provide you an honest assessment of your situation based on the facts you tell them, the facts from the prosecution and all the evidence at hand.
If YOU need a road traffic lawyer in Scotland feel free to call us on 0800 612 9597 and we will be pleased to meet with you and advise you on the percentenge chance of us winning your case and the strengths and weaknesses of your position.
If you would like our e Book on How To Defend Yourself in A Speeding Case In Scotland just fill in our Ask A Lawyer form and ask for the “Defend Your Speeding Charge In Scotland- e Book”
Scotland on Sunday reporter Alastair Dalton reported that the main route between Scotland and England has the highest number of speeders caught by mobile camera vans in his article on 31st May .A74(M) speeding cases accounted for half of the ten worst roads in Scotland for speeding offences.
More than 6,000 motorists were caught breaking the motorway’s 70mph limit at the five locations, most of them car drivers.
A total of 1,883 were snapped near Kirkpatrick Fleming, 1,696 near Abington, 962 near Lockerbie, 853 near Beattock and 743 near Ecclefechan.
The other roads where camera vans caught the most speeders were the M80 at Dunipace (1,437), the A90 between Edinburgh and South Queensferry (1,090), Houston Road in Livingston (946) and the M9 at Kinnaird (685).
Mobile camera vans are deployed across Scotland, but can we always rely on the evidence that they obtain? Our own experience of these cases is that whilst they often use the appropriate methods of detection properly there are occasions when that evidence should be challenged as it cannot be relied upon in a court of law.
However you cannot know when it is “worth” challenging the evidence without first refusing to accept any Fixed Penalty that has been issued. Only after that stage will the case be reported to the Procurator Fiscal and a citation issued (Except where you face a Totting Up ban, in those circumstances the case will be reported for citation immediately upon you confirming that indeed you were the driver on the day of the alleged offence.)
Is understood the fixed camera site which caught the most speeders was on the A90 near Stonehaven. Those oil workers who travel up and down to Aberdeen on a bi weekly basis and those support workers who need to visit Aberdeen on an almost daily basis will be well aware of the Fixed Camera GATSO devices and the vans that are stationed up and down that road in laybys and farm tracks!
The Stonehaven GATSO Fixed camera is reported to have snapped 4,378 motorists, including 669 lorry drivers, with one car driver caught doing 122mph. These cameras cost approx £44,000 each to install but you can see that they do become cash generating machines when you run the numbers on them. That’s more than 5000 prosecutions at at least £100 each recouping £500,000 in one year.
If Fixed cameras are still catching 5000 drivers per annum we need to look at better solutions as they are clearly failing to slow a lot of folk down. Is it time to consider Speed Awareness courses.
I was delighted to see it reported that SNP Transport minister Derek Mackay is considering the introduction of speed awareness courses for speeders, which are run in England. Maybe he should have a look at our Speed Awareness petition?