Monday, February 21, 2005

Play judge again

Mr. Smith is a well-paid executive. He drives an expensive Jaguar company car and covers many miles on business. He earns well over £100,000 per year.

In his travels he has collected nine points.

He is involved in a minor traffic accident that is not his fault. Unfortunately a pedestrian has suffered injuries (that have turned out to be minor) so the police accident investigators turn up. Mr. S. is breathalysed as a routine matter but he hasn't had a drink for two days. On looking at his car the trained police vehicle examiner finds a technical fault with the lights. Mr. S. is summonsed for the offence, because with nine points already he is ineligible for a fixed penalty.

He pleads guilty. The offence carries three points, taking Mr. S. to twelve, so he stands to be disqualified for six months.

His solicitor puts forward an 'exceptional hardship' argument and tells the court at some length of the importance of Mr. S's job, his international travel, and the need to support his young family and to pay their school fees.

So you, members of the bench, have to decide whether to exercise your discretion to make a finding of exceptional hardship, and to choose not to ban him at all or for a shorter period than six months.

Go on, then, sentence him. A fine, of course, plus costs.

The choice is:- three points, therefore a 'totter' so six months ban.

Or - as above plus a reduced ban (defence brief suggests that a really big fine need not be a problem).

Or - as above, but no ban on the grounds of exceptional hardship, leaving S. with 12 points but no ban.

As before, let me have some thoughts and I will tell you what we did in a case that differed from this one but shared the same basic features.

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