Going to Court on a drink driving charge

Many people charged with drink driving, drunk in charge of a vehicle or failing to provide specimen for analysis are people of good character who have never been in trouble with the law before.  Consequently, they may be unfamiliar of what is involved in the process of going to Court.  I’ve listed below some common questions and answers.

What should I wear when I go to a Magistrates Court?

There is no formal dress code for a defendant who attends Court on a drink driving charge. However, I was once in Court when a defendant turned up in shorts and flip flops. The District Judge told him to go out and buy some trousers and shoes then come back to Court.  It’s obviously a good idea to dress smartly in order to set the right impression with the Court.

What should I take with me to Court?

If you are considering pleading guilty to drink driving, then you should take both parts of your driving licence. It may also be a good idea to obtain character references from well-respected people you know such as an employer or old family friend.

What time will my case be heard?

A charge sheet for drink driving will often list a time of the hearing as being before Court business starts to encourage people to turn up as early as possible many defendants are not renowned for their timekeeping. There are likely to be many cases in the Court list all scheduled for the same time. It’s a good idea to turn up as early as you can as this may result in your case being called on more quickly. It’s a bit like a doctor’s appointment in that respect. Bear in mind, however, that most court buildings do not open until 9.00am.

Who should I report to when I arrive at Court?

Most Courts have a reception area where the Court list is kept.  After you have been through Court security,  tell the staff behind reception that you have arrived and they should be able to inform you  which Courtroom your case is being heard in.  If you have instructed a solicitor, they will normally meet you outside the Court.  Your lawyer should find time to discuss the case with you before the hearing in one of the meeting rooms. You should wait outside the Courtroom for the usher to tell you to come into Court.

What happens at the hearing?

This depends on what type of hearing it is. If it is the first hearing of a drink driving case, the Court will expect you to enter a plea. If you plead guilty to the drink driving charge, the prosecutor will summarise the key facts of the case and your solicitor will mitigate on your behalf. The penalty will then be decided by the Magistrates. If you enter a not guilty plea, arrangements will be made for the case to be listed for trial at a later date.

Will I have to say anything?

If your case is listed for first hearing and you are represented, all that you will be required to do is confirm your name, address and date of birth and the plea you are entering. All other matters should be dealt with by your drink driving solicitor. If the case is listed for trial, you may wish to give evidence on oath as part of your case but you do not have to do so if it is decided not to be in your best interests.

Drink driving can be a complex area, so I decided to set up a specialist website dedicated to the different issues that can arise go to www.drinkdrivelawyer.net for more information.  Call our friendly team on 0800 433 4678 or 0333 352 6800 to arrange a free consultation it could be the most important call you ever make.