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If you have committed a road traffic offence, you will likely be concerned about what will happen next. With penalties ranging from on-the-spot fines to a custodial sentence, it is crucial to understand what you can be penalised for out on the roads.

This guide will focus on five specific road traffic offences, providing you with guidance on the possible penalties you could receive for:

  1. Speeding,
  2. Driving while using a mobile phone,
  3. Careless driving,
  4. Dangerous driving, and
  5. Driving under the influence.

At Martin, Johnston & Socha, our criminal lawyers will put a robust defence in place and ensure you get the optimal outcome for your circumstances. If you need help understanding your charge, please get in touch with a member of our road traffic team today by requesting a callback here.

Speeding in Scotland

If you are caught speeding, the minimum penalty you will get is three points and a £100 fine (in the form of a fixed penalty notice). Unlike other areas of the UK, a speed awareness course is not an option for minor speeding offences in Scotland.

Depending on the speed you are travelling, your licence can be endorsed with three to six penalty points. These points will remain on your driving licence for four years, but will be valid for three years from the date of the offence.

A financial penalty between £100 and £1,000 can be issued for a speeding offence, however, if you are caught on the motorway, then the maximum fine increases to £2,500. For those speeding at a particularly high speed, you could also receive a discretionary disqualification.

Speeding penalties will depend on the specific details of each case. Factors that are likely to increase the severity of the offence include:

  • excessive speeding,
  • if there are passengers in the car,
  • previous convictions, and
  • location (such as being close to a school).

On the other hand, having a clean record or committing a speeding offence for a genuine emergency may reduce the seriousness of your circumstances.

What happens if I’m caught driving while on the phone?

Whether you are reading a message, changing music, or even declining a phone call, driving while using your mobile phone is a criminal offence with various penalties available.

In 2017, the minimum penalty for driving while using a mobile phone doubled; from a fixed penalty notice of three points and a £100 fine, to six points on your licence and a fine of £200. Mobile phone offences in Scotland are typically resolved in this manner.

When your case is referred to the court, six points will be added to your driving licence. You will also pay a maximum fine of £1,000; however, if you were driving a lorry or bus at the time of the offence, the financial penalty can be as much as £2,500.

If you are caught driving while using your mobile phone as a new driver, your licence will be revoked for having six points. As such, you would have to reapply for your licence and retake your driving test. Other drivers will face a totting-up disqualification if they receive 12 points on their licence within three years.

What are the penalties for careless driving?

Careless driving covers different types of driving behaviour, such as an irresponsible manoeuvre or not giving way. Ultimately, it is when someone drives without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for others.

Police can issue a fixed penalty notice on the roadside for careless driving, in which the motorist will receive a fine of £100 in addition to three penalty points. You can either pay and accept the penalty, or contest the charge in court.

The court can hand out anything from three to nine penalty points for careless driving in Scotland, along with a fine up to £5,000. In more serious cases, the court may impose a discretionary driving ban.

Dangerous driving penalties – motoring lawyers in Scotland

The difference between careless and dangerous driving may seem subtle, but the penalties associated with a dangerous driving charge are significantly harsher.

Unlike careless driving, there is no limit to the financial penalty you can receive for a dangerous driving offence. If you are found guilty, you will also face a minimum driving disqualification of 12 months and will have to resit an extended driving test. If you resume driving after the ban is lifted but have not taken the extended driving test, you can be prosecuted for driving while disqualified.

For severe cases of dangerous driving – such as having a previous dangerous driving conviction – the court may determine that a custodial sentence is more appropriate, and this can be for a maximum of two years.

What about the penalties for death by dangerous driving?

Death by dangerous driving is the most serious of all motoring offences and can result in:

  • a minimum driving ban of two years with a compulsory extended driving test,
  • an unlimited fine, as well as
  • imprisonment for up to 14 years.

What penalty will I face for driving under the influence?

If you are charged with driving under the influence, you could face severe consequences – even if it’s your first offence. It’s important to note that Scotland has the lowest drink-driving level across the UK, with limits at:

  • 22 microgrammes of alcohol in 100ml of breath
  • 50 milligrammes of alcohol in 100ml of blood
  • 67 milligrammes of alcohol in 100ml of urine

As of October 2019, Police Scotland were also given powers to deal with drug driving cases. If the police suspect you are driving under the influence of drugs, they can carry out immediate testing on the roadside (using a mouth swab) before bringing you to the station for a blood test.

With Scotland’s zero-tolerance approach to driving under the influence, drug driving penalties are treated equally to those given for drink driving offences. Alongside a fine and penalty points, driving under the influence can result in a mandatory minimum one year driving disqualification; regardless of how much you were over the limit. For the most serious cases, a custodial sentence of six months could be imposed.

Expert legal advice from road traffic defence specialists in Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy & Alloa

Being faced with a road traffic conviction is daunting, and may lead to job loss and financial hardship that can significantly impact your life. At Martin, Johnston & Socha, we strive to keep our clients on the road and will work tirelessly to protect your licence and livelihood.

Road traffic law is complex, with penalties dependent on the driving offence, the facts of your case and the strength of your defence. With first-class knowledge of the road traffic defence process, we are perfectly placed to provide you with the best legal representation possible.

Request a Callback from our Road Traffic Defence Lawyers, Scotland

Whether you have been charged with dangerous driving, drink or drug driving, driving while uninsured, driving while using a mobile, careless driving, speeding, totting up, or any other motoring offence, get in touch with our qualified team today.

We can help clients in Alloa, Kirkcaldy, Dunfermline, Fife, Stirling, Falkirk, Edinburgh and further afield. Call our criminal defence lawyers in Dunfermline on 01383 730 466, in Kirkcaldy on 01592 640 680, in Alloa 01259 725 922 on or via the online enquiry form.

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