Road Traffic Act 1988 & Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988
Road traffic law is a niche area of Criminal Law that is largely contained in the Road Traffic Act and the Road Traffic Offenders Act both from 1988.
General criminal practitioners do not study road traffic law as a matter of course and many choose not to study it as it is often perceived to be a pretty boring subject area (although my inner-geek finds it all quite interesting!). Countless Criminal lawyers are so busy with cases involving rapes, murder, burglary, assault etc that they simply do not have capacity to delve into road traffic law even if they wanted to.
It is so niche in fact that instructing a non-motor lawyer to defend a case of drink driving could arguably be comparable to asking a car mechanic to perform heart surgery! OK, I may be guilty of a slight exaggeration there but I hope I am conveying my point effectively.
I am a road traffic specialist and have never dealt with any other type of case in almost 8 years. In fact not since my time at the Crown Prosecution Service have I been involved in any case that does not include a vehicle!
During these 8 years, I have advised a countless number of clients on all matters of road traffic law whether it be in cases of drunk driving, speeding, death by dangerous driving or simply running a red light.
The legal sector is a saturated market and people will quite rightly shop-around to find the best lawyer for them. As a result, I often find myself trying to alleviate the same concerns from people who may be feeling a little lost and confused having received different advice from every firm they have spoken to. Motorists that seek out a lawyer to help them usually do so because they have either committed a very serious offence, are dependent upon their licence or are generally terrified of the whole ordeal and want some guidance.
It is important to note that representation in most motor law cases has to be paid for by the defendant on a private basis as the majority of people will not qualify for legal aid. It is therefore not surprising that the two most common questions people ask before parting with their money are:
- Whether I genuinely specialise in this area of law; and
- Why I am giving them advice that conflicts with that of another supposed specialist?
The relationship between a lawyer and a client is very important and it is crucial that you are comfortable and confident in your choice. I am therefore more than willing to try and help alleviate such concerns. This task however is made increasingly difficult when Google and every other search engine contains a seemingly endless list of law firms that all claim to specialise in this area and I must stress the word “claim”.
Why Would a Law Firm Claim to Specialise When They Do Not?
It is one thing to offer services relating to motor law and another entirely to claim that you “specialise” in the area and the simple answer to the question above is “money”. There are thousands of people out there who are willing to pay privately to defend their ability to drive:
- Businessmen and women whose licence is crucial to their position.
- Carers who need their car to help take care of their family
- Full-time mothers with no access to public transport routes and are their children’s only means of getting to school.
- Doctors who cannot afford not to drive in case of an emergency
The list goes on. Drivers who genuinely need their licence tend not to give up when they find they cannot secure Legal Aid as their licence is just too important to them. They are willing to fight for it and pay for the case themselves! In a time where the legal sector has been hit by a number of government cuts, many firms recognised the business opportunity before them and I know of several firms who went out and recruited specialist lawyers to help cater for these motorists in need of help.
It would be very difficult for a layman to ascertain whether or not a lawyer genuinely specialises in something they claim to as they simply do not know the right questions to ask. Firms without motor law specialists often give advice based on limited knowledge or understanding of the law and in many cases, I am confident that this is not intentional or underhand in any way . Lawyers may have looked over the legislation but not in enough detail to discover its intricacies. If they advise clients that they must plead guilty, it may simply be because they are unaware of any other options or the various ways that cases such as drink driving can be successfully defended.
How to Recognise a Genuine Motoring Law Specialist
By now you may be asking yourself how on earth you would tell the difference if you are ever required to instruct someone to help you.
Fortunately, the answer is relatively straightforward and I would recommend you Look at their TRIAL SUCCESS rate.
Testimonials are often a great way to get an idea of the service provided by a firm but to help identify a genuine specialist you need to look a little closer. There is a huge difference between preparing a successful defence and preparing mitigation for someone who pleads guilty with the former demanding a much higher level of expertise.
Unfortunately there is no exact formula or science that could be utilised to identify lawyers with genuine expertise as a lot of the decision making process on who to instruct is based on faith and trust.
That said, if a firm has an outstanding trial success rate, it is a safe bet that they really do know their stuff.
Did I mention that the trial success rate of Olliers Motor Law currently stands at 92.3%?