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Drink driving advice

#1
My daughter was found to be over the limit after an accident (thankfully minor) last December. She lost concentration and went into the back of a parked van. She was slightly hurt but no one else was injured. Today she received her court summons (for May). There is no mention of the accident on the summons. She is going to plead guilty early as apparently this can reduce the penalty? Should she address a letter to the judge and include mitigating circumstances in the letter? She was very depressed at the time and was drinking to get through it - would this be acceptable as mitigation? Should she thank the police and ambulance services in this letter as they were very kind to her.
Should she make any mention of the accident in the letter or in court?
She is a student with no income except her student loan, although she does have a small amount of savings. We have no experience of this sort of situation and any advice would be much appreciated.
 
#2
Highlighting personal problems as a reason or part of the reason for why an incident like this has happened can often help the court to make a more balanced decision on sentence. If they can be satisfied that there were underlying issues that have been or will be dealt with then they can often decide that it is not appropriate to impose a more severe penalty. It is important, however, not to present this argument as an excuse for what has happened as this could aggravate the court. When the matter is heard in court the prosecution will read from a case summary that will most likely have brief details of the accident. This will be an aggravating factor and should be mentioned by your daughter when any mitigation is advanced to court. The court may be happy to read a letter prepared by your daughter outlining her remorse and highlighting the personal issues you have. You should also look to obtain some character references to highlight your daughter's good character. It sounds like your daughter may be eligible financially for legal aid however this sort of offence is only covered by legal aid if there is a risk of a prison sentence being imposed. The reading produced from the blood specimen is a key indicator in deciding whether prison may be a risk. Any reading of 276mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or above will mean she is at risk of custody and likely eligible for legal aid.
 
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