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2nd DD Conviction

Radcharge

Member
I was arrested for drink driving last week and I'm dreading going to court. Even though I was parked in a parking space with the engine off, this unmarked car pulled up beside me and the guy asked me what I was doing, then he told me he was a police officer and told me to get out and breathalised me. I blew 63 at the roadside so he arrested me. At the station I blew 56. At first they charged me with being drunk in charge but then I admitted having driven which was probably a really stupid thing to do. I was convicted of drink driving before in 1998 when I was 23 and I feel so stupid cos after 11 years my licence would have been wiped clean next month.

Anyway I'm up in court in 2 weeks time and I'm really worried that I'm going to say all the wrong things and make it worse for myself. When I went to court in 98 the magistrate was really severe and even had a go at my sister for smiling at me from the public gallery. I'm unemployed so I can't afford a solicitor and everything I've read on the net tells me I won't be able to get legal aid cos the offence isn't severe enough. I could really do with some advice on what I should (and shouldn't) do and say in court. Will the duty solicitor be any use? Please help!
 

Forum Moderator

Staff member
I was arrested for drink driving last week and I'm dreading going to court. Even though I was parked in a parking space with the engine off (I'd stopped to roll a cigarette), this unmarked car pulled up beside me and the guy asked me what I was doing, then he told me he was a police officer and told me to get out and breathalised me. It was 3 in the morning and I'd decided to drive home from a mate's place even though I knew I was over the limit - so stupid. I blew 63 at the roadside so he arrested me. At the station I blew 56. At first they charged me with being drunk in charge but then I admitted having driven which was probably a really stupid thing to do. I was convicted of drink driving before in 1998 when I was 23 and I feel so stupid cos after 11 years my licence would have been wiped clean next month.

Anyway I'm up in court in 2 weeks time and I'm really worried that I'm going to say all the wrong things and make it worse for myself. When I went to court in 98 the magistrate was really severe and even had a go at my sister for smiling at me from the public gallery. I'm unemployed so I can't afford a solicitor and everything I've read on the net tells me I won't be able to get legal aid cos the offence isn't severe enough. I could really do with some advice on what I should (and shouldn't) do and say in court. Will the duty solicitor be any use? Please help!
Hi Radcharge,

Welcome to the forums. Im sure Sean will have some advice for you and in regards to legal aid, you should qualify to receive it.

In order to qualifiy for legal aid, defendants must A) Pass a financial means test and B) They must be appearing at court for an imprisonable offence (drink driving can be an imprisonable offence).

If you are in receipt of unemployment/state benefits then you automatically pass the financial means test. Even if you are not in receipt of unemployment/state benefits you may still qualify for receipt of legal aid to help with hiring a solicitor for your court case. See here for more information for testing eligibility for criminal legal aid.

Let us know how you get on at court.
 
Radcharge
You will pass the legal aid means test if you are in receipt of certain state benefits. If not, then a formula is applied based on your income and outgoings. In exceptional cases where an applicant does not qualify based on their means it is possible to appeal against this on the grounds of financial hardship. This would apply when an applicant's financial circumstances are unusual. A specific form must be completed (called a CDS 16).

If you pass the means test then you must then satisfy the merits test before legal aid is granted. There are several grounds on which the merits test can be satisfied. These are as follows:
i) If your liberty is at stake (ie you are at risk of a custodial sentence)
ii) You are subject to a court order, breach of which could result in a prison sentence.
iii) Your livelihood is at risk (you could lose your job if convicted)
iv) Your previous good character is at stake
v) There are witnesses to be traced and interviewed (especially if defence expert evidence is required)
vi) It is necessary to cross examine prosecution witnesses at trial, especially professional witnesses such as police officers
vii) The case involves a substantial question of law. This covers a wide range of situations.

Any one of these grounds could mean that the case satisfies the merits test. You should approach a solicitor who holds a criminal defence scheme legal aid franchise with the Legal Services Commission and ask them to apply for legal aid on your behalf. If you are working then take you most recent wage slip with you.

If you are unsuccessful in obtaining legal aid then the Court duty solicitor will be available to you free of charge. However, the duty solicitor scheme only provides assistance once you get to court and it will not enable the solicitor to see you in his office to prepare your case before the hearing date. The duty solicitor scheme is only available for one hearing and if your case was adjourned then the scheme would not be available to you at subsequent hearings. The duty solicitor can often be busy representing lots of other defendants and may be limited in how much time he is able to spend with you at court. For this reason it's a good idea to arrive at court early in the hope of being at the front of the queue.
 
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Radcharge

Member
Hello again, well I was in court yesterday morning and it all went surprisingly well! I didn't qualify for legal aid in the end - I passed the financial means test but because it was a straightforward case with no risk of a custodial sentence they denied me. If anyone out there is wondering whether it's worth applying for legal aid, I would say just do it. If nothing else, talking to a solicitor (for free of course) really helped me to feel calmer and more in control of things.
So I spoke for myself in court, didn't really say much - just pleaded guilty, told them it was a stupid and dangerous lapse of judgement and I deeply regretted it. This seemed to go down well. Because my previous conviction was over 10yrs ago they didn't take it into account when calculating the ban or the fine. I got a 12month ban, £100 fine + £60 court costs, the best result I could've hoped for. So glad it's over, I felt like my life was over a few weeks ago. Since then I've drastically cut my drinking habits, given up smoking and started working out and I feel better than I have in years. Maybe this was the wake-up call I needed.
I just want to thank you for your advice - it helped to put my mind at ease and to focus on what I needed to do. It really helps to know that there are other people out there going through the same thing.
 

scared

Member
That is good for a second offence, am very pleased for you.

Is that all that happened, you just said you were guilty? Did they not interrogate you?
 

Radcharge

Member
Well I was expecting to get a real grilling but it didn't happen. The prosecution lawyer read out the details of the case, the charge etc and then the magistrate asked me what my plea was - I didn't hesitate, just said 'guilty'. Then he asked what I had to say for myself - I just said that I didn't deny any of it, that it was a stupid, dangerous lapse of judgement and I deeply regretted it. He asked me if my previous conviction had made no impact on me - I said that it had but after 10 years the impact had become somewhat dulled. I think it's probably best not to try and explain your way out of it (assuming you're pleading guilty) - just hold up your hands and say yes I was an idiot and i'll take the consequences of it. It seemed to work with these guys but I guess it really depends on who the magistrate is. Are you up in court soon too?
 

scared

Member
No, my boyfriend is in 2 weeks. I feel sick with nerves, worried more about his job really. He was reading 97 at the station so that isn't good, it was lower when they first pulled him over.

We are unsure whether it is best to go it alone or instruct a solicitor...yours sounded good though. Just want it to be simple!
 

Radcharge

Member
I know how nervous you must be, it's horrible isn't it. I would say definitely go and see a solicitor. Even if you can't afford to have one represent your boyfriend in court, just talking with one will almost certainly ease your mind. I found just explaining my situation to someone who took a pragmatic view of it and didn't judge me enormously helpful.
It really isn't the end of the world, even though it might feel like it at the moment. Even if your boyfriend loses his job because of this, you will find a way of dealing with it somehow. I lost my job as a result of my first conviction but believe me you do bounce back from it - there are other jobs. Stay hopeful!
 

scared

Member
Thank you so much, it helps when you know other people have been through it and got through it ok. He is in bits, the wait is killing us. One good thing to come from it is, he said he would never ever ever do it again. It is scary how small an amount you can drink comes to such a high reading, he would have been one drink from prison, but he said he wasn't drunk though, which I believe because it takes him a lot but it is still too much.

It is a lesson learned, for both of us I guess.
 

Radcharge

Member
Hey no problem, I know how much i've appreciated this site over the past few weeks. Good luck with it all, let me know how you get on won't you. And remember: in a couple of weeks this won't seem so bad, so keep your chin up!
 

scared

Member
My heart sinks everytime I think of it (not that it ever leaves my mind but you know what I mean!)

Thank you and well done for getting through it, it is so hard, think it would be easier to handle if it was me instead of him! I am suffering and I am innocent!

I really feel for him though, I have been banned for 12 months before for medical reasons and it killed me! We have a week old car that he can't even touch! :(
 

billygoat

New member
hi been dreading going to court for my second drink driving charge was caught twice over the limit went up in front of the judge today and got a years probation and 80 hours community service no fine thought that was a good sentence for me it could have been a lot worse my last conviction was 2003 what do you all think
 

merlin

Member
That is not a bad result billygoat. I have been on community service and it wasnt as bad as I thought it would be, in fact I ended up enjoying it!

How long did you get banned for?
 

merlin

Member
merlin could you tell me what sort of work you did on your community service
I actually got an individual placement at a charity shop rather than working in a group on the van. So I was just doing shop work, sorting donations, pricing, cleaning, just whatever needed to be done.

I beleive that on the van you could be doing anything from picking litter to painting town/village halls etc. It depends on what placements they have available and what work needs doing as what you end up doing.

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