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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71039
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Good day Sir/Madam, I have exchanged my original driving

Customer Question

Good day Sir/Madam,
I have exchanged my original driving license which was obtained in Angola to a Portuguese license through a driving school in Portugal back in 2008. I sat for the theory test and done the practical exam; paid a fee of €100 and was told to wait for the license to come in the post.

In February 2013 I was stopped by police, in London, and presented my Portuguese driving license. After a few checks the police told me that it appeared to be a fraudulent document. I had this license in my possession for at least 5 years and have always presented it when requested.I couldn't understand how it could be fake. I was then taken to a police station to be searched and for interrogation purposes. During the search they found my boyfriend's driving license which was in my coat's pocket and checked it against mine saying that his one wasn't fake and retained both licenses for further investigation. After the search I was taken to a room where they recorded the interview. I answered all the questions asked and explained how my license was obtained and then exchanged. Also mentioned that my boyfriend's license was exchanged the same way as mine. I was released in bail and asked to report to the police station two weeks later.

The second time I went to the police station I was told that they have contacted the Portuguese authority and have confirmation that both licenses are fake because they couldn't find any records for the driver number on the licenses.
I started to feel frustrated as I couldn't understand how this could be happening as I have followed the correct procedure to exchange my original driving license. The police officers proceeded to arranging a court hearing at Magistrates court which was on the 19th of August 2013. On this day I was charged for driving with no insurance. The vehicle belonged to my father and he had taken his diabetes medicine moments before which made him feel sleepy and this was the reason why I took over the wheel on our way home. I plead guilty to this charge but the above explanation was never taken into consideration in court. After, the judge gave me the choice to have my case sent for trial
at Snaresbrook Crown Court as the offences I'm being accused with are considered to be of an aggravated nature, and I agreed to it following my solicitor's advice.

The first hearing at Snaresbrook Crown Court was on the 4th of September and on this day I plead not guilty to possessing articles for use in fraud because to my understanding I have the right to drive since 2008 and the reason for exchanging my Angolan license was to be able to drive in the E.U. for more than 6 months. I never had the intention or even the motive to obtain fake documents.
In the end I was sent home on bail and with a new trial date.
The second time at Snaresbrook Crown court, on the 7th of November, was more or less like the first hearing. The only change is that I was banned from driving and seating in the front seat of any vehicle.

The final hearing will be on the 28th of the current month. I have managed to travel to Portugal and found out the driving school is no longer in practice, I then went to the equivalent to DVLA and explained my situation, following this l initiated to process to exchange my license once again but this time directly with the issuing authority. A few documents were requested to confirm my entitlement to the Angolan driving license but no theory or practical exam were required this time and the fee was only €30.

In resume, all this situation has been of high frustration and is affecting my studies as well as my personal life. Any help or advice would be very much appreciated.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

What would you like to know about this?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I want the judge to be aware that I was issued this driving license in deceit and therefore I'm not guilty of what I'm being charged with.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Do you dispute that they are fake?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, because to my best knowledge I exchanged the license following the correct procedure.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Are you asking whether this will be accepted?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, given that I was not able to get any evidence of my claims as the driving school is no longer in practice.



Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thanks for the information and the time.

I am sorry but I cannot give you good news then. I’m afraid you are in difficulty here.

Obviously I haven't had full vision of this case and it can all come down to the way in which evidence is given. However, if they have evidence that this is a fake licence then a court is quite unlikely to accept that you acquired it legitimately unless, of course, you have evidence that you were scammed as well by this driving school.

There's no much more than can be said than that really. You do have a defence and really you may as well run it. You never know with jurors what the outcome will be. However, the weight of the evidence is against you.

That said, people can be acquitted despite the weight of the evidence sometimes.

I'm sorry this isn't the answer you wanted but it is the position that you face and I have a duty to inform you truthfully.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need more information.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

That's what my fear is, having no evidence of what turned out to be a scam as it has been such a long time since I first exchanged my license and the paperwork I was given I no longer have hold of.


Will they consider the fact that:

I do have the right to drive since 2008;

My Angolan license is a genuine document;

That the Portuguese authorities have now exchanged to a full Portuguese licence with entitlement dated back to 2008 just like the document found to be fraudulent.



Additional information: I'm female, 22 years old in full time education and have never been involved in any type of criminal activity whatsoever.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
They will bear in mind your good character and your entitlement to drive.

I suspect the crown will be saying that you used this for false ID purposes but if there was no need for that then that is very helpful.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There is no way I would use it as a fake ID. The license found to be fraudulent had all my correct personal details, date of birth, full name, entitlement date, my picture, address, everything was accordingly. Reason why I would never suspect in the previous 5 years that it had a non existent driver's number.



Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
These are all points in your favour.