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Motoring Offense (Scotland) - Advice Sought

OhMeOhMy

New member
Hello!

(Although not a drink driving case, this is based in Scotland so I felt this be the most appropriate area to post, please move if this belongs in General Motoring Cases.)

I recently recieved a citation in the post and the date of required response is towards the end of this month (March, 2015).

I am being charged with Careless Driving and Failure To Stop.

I will attempt to keep the details fairly limited at this time, so as to avoid a rather oversized post.

- Prior to Xmas last year I drove from my house to the supermarket and went shopping, upon exiting the supermarket I found a group of young adults stood beside my car in the dark parking lot. As I approached they yelled to me questioning if it was my car, I said it was and they then proceeded to accuse me that I had just struck their vehicle on the junction outside the supermarket. I was unable to see much in the dark parking lot and was more concerned with focusing myself on the individuals surrounding me at the time, their story was changing, with some saying they had already called the police and some saying they wouldn't have to if I'd just sort it now and help pay the damage. Feeling very uncomfortable in this situation and having no belief at all I was in any collision with their vehicle I refused, got in my car and went home to a safer place.

As soon as I arrived home I found some lighting and examined my car, there was indeed some very minor scratching down the front side of my car. Immedietly on seeing this I drove back into town and went directly to the local police station. I explained to the officer on duty the above confrontation, he looked at my car and said it was such insignificant damage and given I had no details of the other involved parties they really couldn't do much. He said nothing had been reported to them at all regarding such an incident. He took my details and said he would contact me if anything related was reported to him. Going off his advice I left and returned home, feeling happier that the police were now aware and would assist me in resolving whatever happened next. There was about just under 2 hours between the confrontation and myself reporting the event to the police.

The next day some police officers arrived at my home. I, assuming they were here to assist, immedietly commented that they must be here about the incident last night. They straight away went on the offensive, implying I was fully aware then of being in a collision, etc. I explained to them the above and how I had already discussed with another officer at their station. They said they knew nothing of this at the time and nothing had been handed to them regarding this in the morning when they started their shift. They then cautioned me with Careless Driving and asked some questions such as where I was, who was driving, etc. I answered fairly and was compliant. Despite seemingly numerous attempts by them to twist the wording of my statements, I was satisfied with the interview. They had explained during this the other allegedly involved vehicle had scratching down it's side doors. They then left.

The officers returned at the beginning of this year and said after some investigation they would now be charging me with the Careless Driving and an extra charge of Failing To Stop. At this point, more being in complete disbelief than anything I refused to answer any further questions such as 'How this made me feel'. They then left.

I recieved the court citation just last week, with both charges and the request to plead guilty or not guilty via post.

First of all, thank you for taking the time to read about this incident, I would greatly appreciate any information at all as to what is likely to happen in court and the general procedure of these things.

I also have a few questions, if any could be answered that would be great.

My number one question being why they pushed through the Failure To Stop charge, I am aware upon reasonable request by others I am required to give limited details to be able to start an insurance case and such. I felt the request was most unreasonable at the time, feeling very suspicious of their intentions and not being aware of any collision. The fact that I did then go and report to the police exactly what happened raises this question of why I should be looking at a charge for this? (This is also mentioned in the evidence within the citation, that I had reported the event.)

Second question, because there was a group of individuals in the other involved vehicle, this case mostly seems to be their word against mine. Are all four counted as seperate witnesses or will a court see them more as a single individual as they are all friends in the same vehicle?

Thirdly, the citation states there is no CCTV evidence from the car park, or the junction, and seemingly no witnesses other than the individuals accusing me of the collision. No police officers directly witnessed the event and from what I gather the only evidence is the markings on the car that suggest the possibility of a 'slow moving collision'. How exactly does a court prove who is responsible for Careless Driving? The damage being such minor scratches and being their word against mine. On a dark night and with noone around who can say where the vehicles were on the road? Who can say which vehicle was in the wrong? Why should I be the one getting charged, this seems more like a race to the police station to report the apparent event and unfortunately even though I won it my report wasn't handed on before theirs was.

Fourth, will the court seek to impose points and a fine for each charge, or will the charges be combined to the most significant? What are the chances of some kind of mitigation, especially on the Failure To Stop, which with the limited knowledge I have on the matter appears rather unjust.

Fifth, How much would a defence likely cost for such a case? I, at present, fully intend to fight this purely to keep my name clear as I believe I have commited no wrong doings. Also, any general idea of the kind of fines and points I would get if they decided to say I was guilty?

Finally, how exactly does insurance tie into this? I informed the insurance of the minor damage after the police visit, they sent an engineer who examined it, his report simply stated it was consitent with a 'slow moving collision'. The other involved party has made no claim via insurance. Can court demand damage payment to the other party? Can I demand this from the court? Can they then claim on insurance after?

I would also like to add a few more clarifying bits of information just to make sure there are no miscommunications.

- I have at no point seen the damage to the other vehicle. It has only ever been described as minor scratching on both side doors.

- I have never outright denied being in a collision when asked, I have only ever said I was not aware of being in one. There is apparently paint transfer and scratching that matches up on both vehicles. So I don't deny there has been a collision. It's the question of when, where and who was at fault.

- Although I made the report to the police, no official Police Report was made, they simply took a statement and my details. Going on their advice I did not open a case.

- I am no longer in possession of the vehicle.

- No injuries to any party.

- This would be a first offense. No past criminal charges and a completely clean driving license.

- Fully complied with all police requests and questioning until their last visit when the questions seemed irrelivent to anything.

- Not owner of the vehicle, only an insured driver. The owner has not been involved in the investigation. They are aware of it.

- I was the only driver and noone else was involved on my side.


I wish to thank you for your time, I realise there is a lot to read above, even though I've attempted to keep it limited. Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated!
 

Michael Lyon

Road Traffic Solicitor (Scotland)
Myohmy indeed...this is a bit of an essay question and would suggest that you call my office to discuss matters in full. To give you some further information at this stage, please be advised as follows:

(i) The range of penalty for careless driving is 3-9 points and failing to provide details carries 5-10 points. Both offences also carry discretionary disqualification so the charges may present a threat to your driving entitlement;

(ii) Each individual witness to the incident is treated as such and the Court does not consider the evidence as only one source simply because the witnesses are known to each other;

(iii) It would appear that you have a clear defence to the charge on the basis that you did not know, nor should have known, that your vehicle had been involved in an accident;

(iv) Your failure to remain at the scene would also appear to be entirely reasonable in light of the confrontation that was developing;

Further information on careless driving can be found here: http://www.theroadtrafficlawyer.com/careless-driving/

As indicated at the outset, you may wish to call our Glasgow office on 0141-550-1074

Regards

Michael Lyon
 
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