Government proposals for tougher sentencing on illegal drug users

Being caught with illegal drugs in your vehicle can lead to a requirement to take part in a roadside drug test, leading to possible prosecution for drug driving.

Now under new proposals, harsher punishments, including confiscation of driving licences are being considered for possessing the drug itself.

The home office’s latest press release explains:

Random stop for breath test or drug test

So-called recreational drug users will face a fine and could have their passports and driving licences seized under new proposals announced today (Monday 18th July).

The tougher penalties will help tackle the scourge of substance abuse in society which devastates lives and tears communities apart, as well as make our streets safer.

The government is committed to reversing the rising trend of drug use in society, protecting vulnerable people from harm and exploitation. These measures are a step towards changing the damaging culture of drug use and the consumption of drugs such as cannabis and cocaine.

The proposals have been published in a white paper entitled ‘Swift, Certain, Tough. New Consequences for Drug Possession’. The escalating tougher penalties that so-called recreational drugs users in England and Wales could face include:

  • first-time offenders required to pay for and attend a drug awareness course or, if they don’t, pay an increased fixed penalty notice or face prosecution
  • those found using drugs for a second time given a caution, sent on a further drug awareness course and face a period of mandatory, random drug testing for a period of up to three months
  • offenders caught for a third time would likely be charged for their offence, and upon conviction, as part of a civil court order, could be subject to an exclusion order banning them from a specific location, such as a nightclub

They could also be given a drug tag monitoring their usage, and have their passports and driving licences confiscated.

The measures follow the publication of the 10-year drugs strategy in December and come after statistics which show over three million people in England and Wales in 2019 to 2020 reported using drugs in the last year, putting themselves at risk and handing lucrative profits to criminals running a violent and exploitative supply chain.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

Drugs are a scourge across society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart.

Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people.

We are cracking down on drug use with tougher consequences for so-called recreational drug users who will face the consequences of their actions through sanctions including fines and conditions to attend rehabilitation courses, while drug offenders could have their passports and driving licences confiscated.

In line with our strategy to tackle the harmful consequences of drugs, we aim to reverse the rising trend of substance use in society, to protect the public from the harm and violence of drug misuse.

The proposals will now be subject to a 12 week public consultation.

More people die every year as a result of drug misuse than from all knife crime and road traffic accidents combined. The total cost to society and taxpayers in today’s prices is nearly £22 billion.

Overall prevalence of drug use has increased since 2012 to 2013 with drugs being used by a higher percentage of young adults and children.

The government is committed to reversing this trend and making our streets safer by stamping out drug supply in its 10-year drugs strategy, which is backed by an additional £900 million of funding for enforcement, treatment and recovery, taking the total investment on combating drugs over the next three years to £3billion.

Published last December, the strategy focuses on three key priorities – reducing demand for drugs, delivering a world-class treatment and recovery system and breaking drug supply chains. Today’s proposals are a core part of delivering this strategy.

Police activity funded by the Home Office’s County Lines Programme has already closed over 2,400 lines, made over 8,000 arrests and engaged over 9,500 individuals through safeguarding interventions since November 2019.

Ghost broking – car insurance fraud

All owners of roadworthy vehicles are required to have in place a policy of insurance.  The minimum legal requirement is to take out third party insurance, which covers you for damaging someone else’s vehicle or property, or injury to another person in an accident.

Vehicle insurance can be relatively expensive, especially to new drivers or those who have amassed a large number of penalty points. Sadly, a new trend is arising where fraudsters are seeking to take advantage of financially vulnerable individuals by offering fake insurance policies at reduced prices.

Ghost Broking

Termed ‘Ghost broking’, the scam involves fake brokers selling forged insurance paperwork as real policies.

Those who fall victim to the scam typically usually only become aware once they are stopped by police after their vehicle is identified as not having any insurance in place. It is only then when they realise that the policy which they paid for in good faith is in fact non-existent.

Driving without insurance is a strict liability offence, meaning that as the matter is one involving social concern, there is no need for the Prosecution to prove that you intended to commit an offence.

The penalty driving for driving without valid insurance

The penalty for driving without insurance is 6 – 8 points on your driving licence or a disqualification of up to 12 months. You would also be liable for an unlimited level of fine. These additional points would lead to the revocation of a driving licence for a new driver if the offence was committed in the first two years of driving, and could lead to a 6 month totting up ban if the additional points took you up to the 12 point threshold.

Depending on the circumstances of the case, those who fall victim to the ghost broking scam could argue that there are special reasons for not imposing the usual penalty. However, the case would have to go to Court and the driver would have to give evidence in front of the Magistrates or District Judge.

Going to Court can be a daunting and time-consuming process, so its always best to protect yourself from falling victim to the scam in the first place.

Protecting yourself from Ghost-Broking

If you receive an offer of insurance that is wildly lower than most companies, you should take time to look into the background of the company, and probe how they can provide the policy at such a low rate. Check the provenance of the company on the Government data base: Companies house. Check that the company is authorised by the financial conduct authority by searching the financial services register. Carefully inspect any documentation you receive and highlight any concerns immediately. If you suspect that you are dealing with a ghost-broker, protect yourself and others by reporting them to the financial conduct authority and to the police.

Have you already been caught out by the Ghost-Broking scam?

According to Action Fraud, 517 cases of ghost broking were reported in 2021 alone. If you have already fallen victim to the Ghost-broking scam and are facing prosecution for driving without insurance, contact our team of specialist driving offence solicitors today on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial advice. Assistance from a expert in vehicle insurance cases could make the difference between walking out of Court with your licence intact or facing a lengthy ban, and getting advice at an early stage can be crucial.

Who we are

Ashworth Motoring Law are a national firm of specialist motoring offence solicitors who represent drivers who at risk of being disqualified from driving. We regularly update drivers on the latest developments in motoring law and highlight issues which could affect your ability to drive. We offer free legal advice to drivers in relation to any driving offence and regularly appear in national and local press to promote driver safety and awareness.

Author

Motoring Lawyer Alison Ashworth being interviewed on TV

Article written by Senior Solicitor Advocate and Managing Director of Ashworth Motoring Law, Alison Ashworth. Mrs Ashworth is one of the Countries leading specialist motoring law solicitors and provides commentary on the latest developments in the field of driving law. She represents drivers who appear before the Criminal Courts throughout the Country and is passionate in her belief that no driver should lose their driving licence in circumstances where a valid defence is available.  Alison fights for her clients both in and out of Court, representing their interests in Government consultations and in national interest groups. If you would like Alison Ashworth to provide an expert opinion on any motoring law related issue, or to provide training at your organisation, please contact admin@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk.

Special Offer to Celebrate Armed Forces Week

Monday 20th June marks the start of Armed forces week, a time to celebrate Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and show appreciation for the extraordinary work they do.

To show our support, we’re offering a 10% discount on initial fees for all serving and former service personnel. The offer is valid throughout Armed Forces Week, which runs from 20th to 27th of June 2022

If you know someone in the forces who has been accused of committing a driving offence such as speeding, careless driving or drink driving, let them know about our offer and that they can call our free advice line on 0330 33 22 770, quoting “Forces” to secure their discount.

Our specialist driving offence solicitors have phenomenal success rates and work tirelessly to save the driving licences of motorists across England and Wales. Contact us on 0330 33 22 770 or by email at admin@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk to discuss your case today.  

Totting up case won despite 27 points

Totting up too many penalty points is the nightmare scenario that most drivers dread. Being caught by one too many speed cameras within a three-year period will result in you having to appear before the Magistrates Court facing a six-month disqualification from driving under the totting up regime.  

That’s what happened to Mr Davies when he was caught 9 times by average speed cameras within a matter of weeks.

Fortunately, Mr Davies contacted us, and we were able to build a strong case for exceptional hardship. When the case got to Court, we explained the devastating consequences that would follow if he were to serve the usual six-month totting up ban. Following consideration of the carefully crafted arguments put forward in Court, the Magistrates accepted our submissions and decided not to ban Mr Davies, despite him having 27 penalty points on his driving licence.

Here’s what our client had to say in his kind review of our services:

Having the right representation to deal with your totting up case can be crucial in determining whether your exceptional hardship argument is successful in Court.

At Ashworth Motoring Law, we deal with cases where drivers have totted up too many penalty points every single day. We are specialists in building exceptional hardship arguments and avoiding driving bans. We know which arguments work and which don’t. We know how to build and support the case with evidence, and how to present it in the most effective way in Court.

When your driving licence is on the line, you can’t afford to take any chances. Contact Ashworth Motoring Law on 0330 33 22 770 and speak to one of our specialist totting up solicitors for free initial advice. We love to hear from you and take pride in knowing that our advice and representation could be key in avoiding a driving ban and keeping you on the road.

New rules are now in force for Light Goods Vehicle Operators in Europe

Department for Transport

The Department for Transport has issued the following update:

On 21 May 2022, new EU rules came into force requiring users of vans and other light goods vehicles weighing between 2.5 and 3.5 tonnes and which transport goods for hire or reward from the UK into, or through the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, to hold an International Operators’ Licence.

If you do not possess this licence, you may now find your business disrupted. You could also face enforcement action, including fines, impounding or being asked to return to the UK, depending on the country that you are stopped in.

Although the rules are now in force, if you need to travel to the EU for hire or reward, you can still apply. To reduce any possible disruption, you should select the interim licence option.

If you already hold an International Operators’ Licence for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) you can add extra LGVs to your existing licence. 

Visit GOV.UK for further information on the new EU rules and what to do next.

You may also need to make posting declarations for journeys to the EU

If you’re transporting goods between two points in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway for commercial purposes, (known as cabotage or cross trade), you must now make a “posting declaration”, which means registering the operator, driver, driver employment details, dates of travel, and the vehicle used.

The information you need to sign up and start declaring is available on GOV.UK. Or, you can access the EU Portal and FAQs now.

Self-Driving buses, shuttles and delivery vans could soon hit UK roads

Th UK Government’s latest press release describes a new £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles:

A new £40 million competition to kick-start commercial self-driving services, such as delivery vehicles and passenger shuttles, has been launched today (Monday 23 May) by Lord Grimstone, Minister for Investment. The funding could create tens of thousands of skilled jobs across the UK over the next decade.

The ‘Commercialising Connected and Automated Mobility’ competition will provide grants to help roll out commercial use self-driving vehicles across the UK from 2025, delivering convenience for consumers and making journeys safer, greener and more reliable.

The competition will help bring together companies and investors so that sustainable business models to be rolled out nationally and exported globally.

Types of self-driving vehicles that could be deployed include delivery vans, passenger buses, shuttles and pods, as well as vehicles that move people and luggage at airports and containers at shipping ports.

Minister for Investment Lord Grimstone said:

Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise people’s lives, whether its by helping to better connect people who rely on public transport with jobs, local shops, and vital services, or by making it easier for those who have mobility issues to order and access services conveniently.

This funding will help unlock the incredible potential of this new and growing industry, building on the continued development of self-driving technology, attracting investment and helping make our transport cleaner, safer and more efficient.

Transport Minister Trudy Harrison said:

We know that self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionise the way we travel, making our future journeys cleaner, easier and more reliable. But our absolute priority is harnessing the technology to improve road safety.

With around 88% of road collisions currently caused by human error, this funding will drive the introduction of new technology to improve travel for all, while boosting economic growth and highly skilled jobs across the nation.

The competition will cement the UK’s reputation as a global leader in self-driving vehicle technology, unlocking a new industry that could be worth £42 billion to the UK economy by 2035, potentially creating 38,000 new skilled jobs.

£1.5 million of the funding will be used to study and explore using self-driving vehicles as a means of public transport that could provide an alternative to mass transit systems. This includes, for example, using self-driving vehicles on routes separated from other traffic that could be cheaper and more flexible than new railway lines.

The UK government is continuing to develop a comprehensive legal and assurance framework for self-driving vehicles to ensure the safety of the technology. The government announced a Transport Bill in the recent Queen’s Speech that will introduce comprehensive legislation for self-driving vehicles to enable safe and responsible deployment.

The first vehicles to be listed as self-driving in the UK – vehicles approved under the Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) Regulation – could be available for people to purchase, lease or rent later this year. Vehicles will undergo rigorous testing and will only be permitted to drive themselves when they have met stringent standards.

The work undertaken by the government and its partners has already ensured that the UK has a proven track record in leading connected and self-driving vehicle innovation, enabling joint public and private investment of £440 million.

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders Chief Executive Mike Hawes said:

Self-driving vehicles offer major benefits to society – improving road safety, supporting new jobs and economic growth, and enabling greater mobility for everyone – so the UK is rightly seeking to be at the forefront of this technological evolution. Recent regulatory reforms have helped Britain establish itself as a leader in the rollout out of self-driving passenger vehicles, and today’s announcement is a significant step towards self-driving public transport and goods delivery services becoming a reality. This new funding competition will help drive innovation and, potentially, private investment in UK automotive, ensuring cutting-edge self-driving technology finds a clearer path to UK roads.”

Self-driving buses, shuttles and delivery vans could soon hit UK roads thanks to £40 million government-funded competition – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Ban avoided following Failure to Furnish information allegation

Client review after avoiding a driving ban for failure to furnish information

With an automatic penalty of 6 points, a charge of failing to furnish information (failure to identify the driver following a requirement to do so) could have a drastic impact on your ability to drive. For example, the additional points could put you over the 12-point totting up threshold, leading to a 6 months disqualification from driving.

Thankfully here at Ashworth Motoring Law, we know the most advanced and specialised strategies of dealing with failure to furnish allegations. Such strategies can include mounting specialist defences to the allegation and advancing specific arguments to prevent a driving disqualification.

In Kate’s case, our specialised knowledge of driving laws, combined with the perfect strategy resulted in her avoiding a driving ban which would have otherwise had unimaginable consequences on her life.

Who we are and how we can help you

We are a firm of specialist Solicitors at the hight of our profession who are experts in motoring laws and their associated driving offences. We represent drivers from all over England and Wales who are at risk of losing their driving licence. We pride ourselves on preventing the drastic lifechanging consequences that would otherwise flow from a disqualification from driving.

If you, or someone you know has been accused of committing a driving offence such as failure to furnish information, speeding,  or any other motoring offence, please contact our free advice line on 0330 33 22 770 to speak to a specialist driving offence solicitor today.

Lines are open round the clock. We look forward to helping you.

Mental health and failure to provide

As we close out Mental Health Awareness Week, we’d like to highlight a common but serious motoring offence we deal with that sometimes has mental health issues at the heart of its defence.

The offence is failing to provide a specimen for analysis.

Section 7(6) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes It an offence to fail, without reasonable excuse to provide a specimen of breath, blood or urine for analysis when required to do so by an officer.

This is a serious offence which can attract a custodial sentence in the most severe cases. Drivers who are convicted of failing to provide a specimen also face a mandatory disqualification from driving for at least twelve months, a criminal record, and are classed as a high-risk offender, meaning that they must pass a medical before the DVLA will return their licence.

Are people with mental health issues more likely to fail to provide a specimen?

Being arrested and taken to the police station is a stressful experience for anyone. However, for people suffering with mental health conditions such as PTSD, and anxiety, the experience can be unbearable. They might be confused, frightened and suffer from panic. It is in these heightened states that motorists with mental health problems are required to undergo the evidential drink or drug drive procedure, in some cases, without them having consumed any alcohol or drugs in the first place.  

Not surprisingly, some motorists feel overwhelmed by the situation and either refuse to provide a sample, or are simply unable to do so, either through panic or hyperventilation for example.

When this happens, the person is typically charged with failing to provide a specimen and given a Court hearing in the Magistrates’ Court. They would then face all of the criminal consequences as a result.

But is this fair? In my experience of dealing with failure to provide allegations, people with mental health problems are not treated fairly at the police station. They may even raise their mental health issues to the custody sergeant or investigating officer during their time in custody simply to have it overlooked, or to be told they’re faking it. This is wholly unacceptable.

There is a defence open to people with mental health problems

Fortunately, there is a defence that people with mental health problems are able to use, provided they can show a ‘causal link’ between their psychological condition and their inability to provide the sample. We are usually able to establish this causal link by obtaining supportive evidence from medical professionals and experts. Once the reasonable excuse defence is mounted, it is for the Prosecution to disprove it, which usually proves to be an insurmountable burden. Indeed, a driver cannot be convicted of failing to provide a specimen if they had a reasonable excuse.

An example of a reasonable excuse in driving cases could be where an individual is so overwhelmed with panic that they are unable to understand the officer’s instructions or comply with his requests.

Sadly, there seems to be a lack of awareness of this defence. Many who suffer from mental health problems simply plead guilty to the charge and are left with the stigma of having the conviction on their record.

We are seeking to raise awareness amongst the police, who should look out for these conditions and treat individuals accordingly, and also amongst sufferers of mental health problems to let them know that all is not lost, and they may have a defence available to them.

Article written by Expert Motoring Lawyer and specialist in Failure to Provide a Specimen cases, Alison Ashworth.

Why we do what we do:

At Ashworth Motoring Law we believe that no driver’s licence should be placed in jeopardy due to a lack of legal or technical knowledge. That’s why we’re always striving to deliver relevant, current content to keep you up to date with issues that could affect your freedom to drive.

We know the devastating impact that a disqualification from driving could have on a person’s life, career and family. It’s from that understanding that we fight to save the driving licences of motorists throughout the Country, to ensure that no person is disqualified where a valid defence or judicial discretion is available.

If you’ve been unlucky enough to be accused of failing to provide a specimen and need to keep your driving licence, you can call one of our team of Expert Motoring Lawyers at any time on 0330 33 22 770 or email admin@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk. Our specialist driving offence solicitors will listen to the details of your case and let you know instantly if your licence could be saved.

Special discount for registered Nurses

12th May marks International Nurses’ Day and to celebrate, we’re offering 10% off initial legal fees for all registered Nurses throughout England and Wales.

For many Nurses, their ability to drive to and from their place of work, or from patient to patient is vital, with some Nurses clocking up huge additional mileage to meet the demands of the job.

We know that mistakes can happen and driving through one too many speed cameras can have a drastic impact on your driving licence, with Nurses who tot-up twelve penalty points facing a driving ban, and time off the road for 6 months.

Having helped many Nurses to avoid a driving ban in circumstances where their career would have otherwise been in jeopardy, we are proud to support International Nurses’ Day by offering a 10% discount on initial legal fees for all registered Nurses.

If you know a Nurse who is facing the possible loss of their driving licence because of committing any driving related offence such as speeding, driving without insurance, or careless driving, invite them to contact Ashworth Motoring Law on 0330 33 22 770 for free initial legal advice and a 10% discount on legal fees. Simply quote “Nurse offer” when speaking to one of our specialist driving offence solicitors between 12 – 19 May 2022.

Who we are and how we can help

Ashworth Motoring Law are a firm of specialist Solicitors at the hight of our profession who are experts in motoring laws and their associated driving offences. We represent drivers from all over England and Wales who are at risk of losing their driving licence. We pride ourselves on preventing the drastic lifechanging consequences that would otherwise flow from a disqualification from driving.

If you, or someone you know has been accused of committing a driving offence such as speeding, careless driving,  or any other motoring offence, please contact our free advice line on 0330 33 22 770 to speak to a specialist driving offence solicitor today.

Lines are open round the clock. We look forward to helping you.

Jubilee weekend – Expect Road closures and delays

As we all know, the Queen is set to celebrate her platinum Jubilee with events running over the special extended bank holiday weekend from Thursday 02 – Sunday 05 June.  

Towns and Cities across the UK are hosting events to celebrate Queen Elizabeth becoming the first British monarch to reach the milestone after 70 years of service. The celebrations are set to include street parties and larger scale events.

Applications throughout the UK have been underway to notify local authorities of planned celebrations, with road fees being waived to encourage celebrations throughout the Jubilee weekend.  

Drivers should therefore prepare in advance for widespread road closures as people take to the streets to take part in a host of celebratory activities.

Given the anticipated popularity of the organised platinum jubilee events in London, motorists are being advised against driving in central London, with Transport for London warning “There will be road closures, and you will likely be delayed”.

Visitors to the city are being encouraged to use tube and rail services where possible.

TFL has stated:

“All our Tube and rail services will be running as usual over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend. They’re good ways to get into central London, get to and from events, and travel around. Services may be busy.

The busiest times will be on Saturday night following the end of the BBC concert and other events, and Sunday daytime. Services and stations will be busy and a lot of people will be changing from Tube to National Rail.”

For details of road closures in your area you should contact your local authority.

Who are we?

The specialist Solicitors at Ashworth Motoring Law are experts in the laws related to driving in England and Wales. We represent drivers in Court and can save your driving licence if you’re accused of committing a driving offence. Contact our Motoring Law helpline for free independent legal advice on 0330 33 22 770 or email enquiries@ashworthmotoringlaw.co.uk