Monthly Archives: June 2015

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Drink Drive Awareness Courses In Scotland

Drink Drive Awareness Courses

Reducing the length of your ban through Drink Drive Awareness Courses

The court reduce the length that you’re banned from driving if you complete the course within a certain time. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter.

Deciding to take a Drink Drive Awareness Course

You have to decide in court, when you are found guilty and if offered a referral, if you want to take a course or not. You won’t be able to change your mind at a later date.

Before going to court you can find a course that you want to be referred to if you are found guilty and banned from driving.

Alcohol alters people perceptions and decisions. People under the influence of alcohol will readily confess that they take chances that they wouldn’t do when they are sober and too often, those chances prove to be disastrous when made behind the wheel of a vehicle. It is estimated that the risk of a driver being killed while under the influence of alcohol is eleven times greater compared to those drivers who don’t have alcohol in their system.

The Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is absorbed in the bloodstream through small blood vessels found in the walls of the stomach and within minutes, it travels from there to the brain where it produces the following effects:

  1. Alters the vision – Slows eye muscle function. Visual movements and perception changes resulting to a blurred vision.
  2. Cuts your Concentration – Decreases your sharpness and reduces your attention. Drowsiness is highly likely to occur.
  3. Delayed Reaction Time – Slower your reflexes which decreases your ability to respond to situations.
  4. Disorientation – Decreases your hand and foot coordination.
  5. Unable to track objects – Reduces your ability to judge an objects proximity and speed

When you take account all of these effects, it is obvious that drinking and driving is not a good mix. We all know it and in Scotland it is clear that drink driving is socially unacceptable. We are often asked in the new drink drive limit has increased the amount of cases we have for drink driving. The answer is no. If anything our case load for drink driving has reduced. We reckon this is because of social pressure and the fact that drivers now completely understand that any drink driving, even one drink is really unacceptable. The message seems to be getting through. The other side of that coin is that businesses have been devastated by the new behavior that is now happening in Scotland. Golf Clubs, community clubs, restaurants that rely on lunchtime sales, pubs that rely on food sales have all been badly affected by the drink drive limit reduction.

The Rundown

Let’s say you did go driving when you’ve had a drink. You suddenly hear the sound of the siren and see those unmistakable blue flashing lights. What happens next?

  1. Suspicion – The car is pulled over because the driver exhibits signs of suspicious driving.
  2. Signs – The officer smells any odor of alcohol and the driver displays symptoms of alcohol intoxication which includes general confusion and slurred speech. The driver will then be made to exit the car.
  3. Tests – The officer will make the driver perform a sobriety testing. If the driver failed to demonstrate proper motor skills, the officer will ask permission to perform a Blood Alcohol Content Test or BAC test. This is to measure the amount of alcohol in a person’s system.
  4. Result – If the driver fails this test, it will result to legal charges. This will be a good time to contact the best road traffic expert in your area but you are unlikely to have their number available UNLESS you have the foresight to note their telephone number when you are doing your research. Why not put our number into your mobile right now 0800 612 9597

If YOU need a road traffic lawyer in Scotland feel free to call us on 0800 612 9597 and we will be pleased to meet with you and advise you on the percentage chance of us winning your case and the strengths and weaknesses of your position.

Making a Decision

It is a conscious choice to  drink and drive or to put down the keys and take a taxi instead.

Educating members of our community through Drink Drive Awareness courses is a good way to prevent fatalities and injuries involving vehicular accidents. But for those who are facing a charge and a mandatory ban, get in touch today. We will provide you with a free case consultation to explain face to  face what we can do for you to limit the damage and deal with this case in a discrete manner that avoids hassle and stress.

Find a Drink Drive Awareness Course Near You

You may wish to contact our firm of choice in Scotland ismpsychologicalservices

You’ll be given a ‘certificate of course completion’ by the course provider when you complete the course. They will also send a copy to the court that sentenced you.

The court will tell DVLA so that your ban is reduced.

You’ll need to reapply for a driving licence and take a medical if you’re a ‘high risk offender’. You should check to see if you’re a high risk offender as the court may not have mentioned this. Check with your course provider if you’re unsure.


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How To Use Video Evidence In Court

Category : Evidence

As a road traffic lawyer I see video evidence being used more and more in the courts of Scotland. We actively encourage our clients and former clients to install “In car” or “Worn on” video cameras and to keep them running whenever they are on the road. I have even had the situation where we bought a lapel micro video camera for a client who claimed he was being harassed by a police officer and was unable to go about his day to day business without constant fear of arrest on some trumped up charge.

Interestingly I have defended a fellow a solicitor where dashboard video evidence became utterly vital in securing an acquittal on a Breach of the Peace, Road Rage, type case. Conviction would have meant damaging his reputation and losing his job. This man and his solicitor wife were returning home from a social function when they were confronted by a two females in a car who flashed their lights at them signalling for them to stop, they had taken umbrage at how he had manoeuvred around a roundabout. When he stopped he was subjected to a barrage of abuse, he left the scene immediately but was followed by this person who subsequently went to a police office that night and reported him for dangerous driving. The evidence from his dashboard camera was instrumental in proving his accuser to be a liar and securing his acquittal.

We often reconstruct an alleged offence to enable the court to see the viewpoint of witnesses and exactly what can and cannot be seen from their vantage point. It would not be the first time that we have had evidence from witnesses where the video proves it would be impossible for that witness to see what they claim to have seen. We find this method particularly useful in cases where people are prosecuted for use of a mobile phone when driving as it sometimes helps us establish that the police simply could not have seen what they claim to have seen.

We recently concluded a death by dangerous driving case where the Crown had secured CCTV evidence from a nearby security camera. Their analyst reviewed the evidence, concluded our client had been travelling at a certain speed and was in a certain position and that lead to a fatal collision with a pedestrian. He gave this as his evidence, however when my assistant Steven Farmer reviewed that evidence for the 100th time he noticed that our clients’ motorcycle could be seen in 2 frames of the CCTV and not one and that the Crown expert’s speed and position calculations were therefore wrong, leading to the acquittal of our client who had been facing a lengthy jail sentence if convicted. This demonstrates that we have to be extremely careful about the weight we lend to what we can see on a video.

Our present Lord Justice Clerk has launched an Evidence and Procedure Review Report recently (In March 2015) where he chairs a working group that have set out proposals/suggestions regarding how the process of criminal trials in Scotland can be improved. The use of video evidence figures large in that paper and it is fair to say that it is a very controversial document as it seems to advocate the use of video in several revolutionary ways that in my personal view may hinder justice rather than assist it. Yes, I agree that contemporaneous video evidence taken at the time of the alleged offence or even re construction video can be of great assistance but I am deeply concerned that the report goes further and seems to prefer the video recorded evidence of eye witnesses rather than their testimony. Obviously we can all see the benefit of a video recording of a witness who is interviewed at the scene of the alleged crime, almost like a news reporter gathering comments from onlookers but the inherent weakness of that is that the so called witness is not on oath, is not in a court of law and is shielded from the scrutiny and cross examination of the defence. They may have little to go on other than body language and a gut feeling that this particular witness is not reliable and is lying or is unreliable because of something that has been said or a nuance from something that has been uttered. For justice to be seen to be done I would suggest that the defence must have the opportunity of questioning all witnesses, live, before a judge and jury. Even live video link evidence is a poor substitute for evidence from the witnesses in court however where we have children and vulnerable witnesses it is only right that they are protected from the stress and undue hardship of facing a former tormentor in open court.

Lord Carloway’s proposals on the face of it seem nothing more than the implementation of sound common sense in the light of a changing world where technological advances have made video and audio recording extremely cheap and ubiquitous. What we must be extremely careful about is the seduction of technology over the rule of law. Our evidential laws have worked well in preserving the rule of law and justice in this country. My fear is that we are led down the garden path of technological advancement to be met at the door by a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That wolf being an irascible judge who demands to know what possible defence the accused might have to a charge when we can see video evidence that seems irrefutable. I believe that the passive neutral judge and jury of our adversarial system, are well worth preserving.

There is no doubt that the Evidence and Procedure Review Report is timely and entirely appropriate but if we see it being used to bolster the judicial role in the trial process I fear us moving away from the adversarial role that has served us well to an inquisitorial role that is so radically different from our traditions and our concept of a fair trial that there would undoubtedly, be casualties in the transition. The aim ,of the rule of Law in Criminal Procedure, in a democratic and rights based jurisdiction like ours, is to ensure procedural fairness whilst balancing the rights of the individual with the rights and interests of society in general. If a Judge or Sheriff takes a more active role in the trial process by questioning the need for witnesses where for instance we have some video evidence, then I fear we become more like the inquisitorial system but without the support of laws of evidence formulated and developed over centuries to keep that Judge or Sheriff in check and ensure that matters are progressed in a just manner for the accused.

Since our system has evolved around an adversarial approach, our laws of evidence and procedure are devceloped around that approach and therefore might be hindered and curtailed by a change to a more inquisitorial role for our Judges and Sheriffs. This opens the door to injustice and it only takes one injustice to make us all the poorer for it.

I am old enough to remember the case of Ernest Barry when in 1989 he was convicted and sentenced to jail for 18 years following “expert” evidence that identified him from CCTV evidence, as a bank robber, however 3 years later he was released when more experts (At the behest of the BBC TV Program “Rough Justice”) were able to demonstrate without doubt that the identification of Barry had been flawed and he was wrongly convicted.

What people don’t know is that the defence lawyer who represented Mr Barry faced a nightmarish situation of trying to obtain Legal Aid funding for the further experts review and testimony. He needed to find approx. £30,000 to pay for that report and the witness expenses. There was no facility in place with the Scottish Legal Aid Board to agree the payment before it was made. (They did not feel the expense was justified as there had been “expert evidence” at the time of trial and the issue resolved) The lawyer mortgaged his own home and funded that scrutiny of the video evidence and thereby secured the liberty of a man who would have been in jail for a further 15 years. (The Scottish Legal Aid Board ultimately refunded that fee in full) This is important because Legal Aid is being attacked from all sides at a time when we see more and more video evidence being introduced into our courts. We will need funding to check the authenticity and provenance of it and I suspect the Scottish Government might not be too keen on paying the video experts as they charge a great deal more than the £30 per hour presently charged by Legal Aid lawyers. Or as Alex Salmond might call them the “Clever Dick lawyers” and judges who are “Daft Toffs”

As a defence lawyer I would be appalled to stand by and watch the destruction of fundamental principles of fairness and justice in the name of technological advancement but not at all averse to the common sense application of video where we can all see that the uses of same are completely fair to ALL parties and not just the Crown this could go along way to securing speedy, just and efficient trials that will benefit us all.