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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71051
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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. I have just responded to a Notice of Intended

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Hello. I have just responded to a Notice of Intended prosecution under the 'Careless and Inconsiderate Driving' section. I crossed a level crossing while the lights were on red and have replied with an apology and some mitigating circumstances that do not excuse the offence.

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
How can I help with this please?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I am incredibly anxious about what may happen. Are all offences such as these taken to court?

On that morning I had sneezed four or five times on the approach to the crossing and I didn't recognise the signal. I think it is probably the first time I've ever come to a crossing like that and, unforgivably and inexplicably, I went through. The NIP form mentions that there is video evidence of me going through on red and I actually realised that what I'd done when I looked in the mirror to see the gates start to descend after I'd passed through. I'm was confused on the approach and I think I may have even thought the gates had just come up after being down.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have no points on my licence currently and haven't had for a long time. I need to drive for my work and I will be financially 'wiped out' with a large fine. I feel so stupid.

So what is your question about this ?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

What is likely to happen and do all these types of offences automatically go to court?

Yes, driving without due care and attention has to go to court. There is an outside chance they might forget to summons you. That does happen sometimes. You cannot rely on it obviously.
This offence carries either 3-9 points or an immediate ban and a fine.
If this is a level crossing then that does aggravate the situation I'm afraid. Magistrates can be fairly random in their punishments. I have seen some people banned and others get 3-6 points. It depends how long after the lights went red you went across really. Travelling through flashing amber is unlawful but not as dangerous as travelling through after the lights have been red for a number of seconds.
They don't like to ban people immediately. They will try to find any alternative.
There will also be a fine of between 125-175% of your weekly income and costs of £85.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How quickly does all this happen?

I think I went through after red light of 5 seconds. That isn't good, but te barriers were still up as I entered. Does sneezing and confusion constitute any defence and is it worth getting representation in court?

I currently earn £650 per week and (when able to afford it) a dividend from my company of £3000 per quarter. How does that work for the fine?

What do you mean by 'trying to find an alternative'? How long can a ban last?

I am currently applying for a job that requires me to drive. Is that of any interest to a court?

No, it is not a defence. I'm not sure it is particularly good mitigation either. It depends on how the Bench is responding at the time.
You have to declare your entire income and they will work out an average.
A ban can last up to six months. They won't ban you for that long though.
The fact that you are seeking work that depends on driving isn't a ground to give you another sentence but it is a ground for them to consider because any ban imposed will fall particularly onerously upon you so they can reduce the fine to reflect that.
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks you.

Is it a good idea to get representation and can that make a real difference?
You say that they try not to ban immediately. Does a clean driving licence help in this respect? Why wouldn't they ban me for six months?

Representation is generally a good thing. It does at least stop people saying something in mitigation that is actually aggravation. But it does rack up costs. It is a balancing exercise between benefit and loss.
The absence of previous is helpful.
They never ban anybody really for the full term. They very rarely use maximums. This was obviously a dangerous and stupid manoeuvre but, as driving incidents go, it is not the worst. Only the worst is deserving of the maximum penalty.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks again.

Just a couple of final questions.

Given your experience and clearly I won't hold you to this, what is the likely outcome given everything I've told you and a 'average' court?

How long can this take for a court date?

I really was sneezing in the car and I really don't remember ever coming to a level crossing in my driving history. Are these likely to aggravate and is it best to just express my regret, emphasise how a ban might adversely affect me and apologise?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Sorry Jo. What does it say on my licence if I have a ban?

It is really random to be wholly honest. It depends which Bench or DJ you get, what kind of mood they are in, whether anything foolish is said in mitigation.
If it is 5 seconds over then it would be difficult to appeal a short ban. The way to sometimes avoid a ban is to ask Benches to put 9 points on a person's licence on the basis that it will place them on the cusp of disqualification for much longer than a ban would last. That makes them feel they are imposing a worse punishment by not banning which sometimes works. Obviously though that is an offer that you only really want to be making if it looks as though they are going to ban.
Generally speaking, it is best to say less in mitigation rather than more. The trouble with these medical mitigation points is that you are always only a fraction away from the court say that you have a condition that renders you unfit to drive and making a referral to the DVLA. I don't think they could do that with sneezing really but I do think they could take the view it is an excuse. Others may disagree with me but I would be very careful with it. If I mentioned it at all I would just say that it was the cause of the distraction and no more.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If I have a ban do I also have points?

No. You get your licence back clean. It will lead to a horrendous increase in insurance though.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How long can the whole process take Jo?

You should be summonsed within around six months of the offence. They have six months to lay an information and usually the summons is a few weeks after that.
They should deal with the matter on the date of the court hearing. There is no need for adjournments.
Usually you are summonsed to attend about three weeks later.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Jo,
Me again. Can I ask what are the range of seriousness of types of Careless driving offences and where might my 5 second red light at level crossing fit on the continuum?

It is always a difficult issue. I have to say that I have always been of the view that it is really a matter of low level dangerous driving. It clearly falls far below the standard of the reasonably competent driver to drive through a red light but it is only a momentary mistake.
However, that isn't CPS current charging policy and you obviously don't want to encourage them to charge a more serious offence.
It really straddles between category one and two of careless driving but the punishment is basically levels of fines and points anyway.