Why solicitors can't work miracles

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"I thought you were motoring law specialists? If you were, you would be able to get me off....!"

This was the final comment at the end of a 20-minute free advice call from a lovely chap who didn’t have a defence.

It seems the urban myth that you can defend a speeding matter (even when you admit speeding), based on weak technical arguments lives on. 

So you’re now in for around £5000-6000 if you lose, plus fines and court costs on top

Let's think this through. You can’t cast a reasonable doubt on the reliability of a speed detection device without expert evidence.

So (knowing that you were speeding) you have to spend £1000+ on an expert report. The expert's duty is to the court, not to the person who pays him. The chances are (especially if you accept the speed alleged), the expert will say the device was working just fine. So that’s £1000+ wasted.

If the expert expresses a concern about the workings of the device and suggests this may have affected its reliability, then game on.

Well, not necessarily. You can’t ambush the prosecution at court with expert evidence. You have to serve it well before trial. If you get an expert report, the prosecution will get one too. When they do they send you a letter saying that if you lose they will look to you for the costs of their expert.

And for some reason, CPS (Crown Prosecution Services) speed detection device experts seem to cost at least four times what our experts cost.

So you’re now in for around £5000-6000 if you lose, plus fines and court costs on top. And let’s not forget this chap admitted speeding and was facing three points and a £100 fine...

So you get an expert, the prosecution get an expert and we all turn up at court on the big day. The police officer gives his evidence and takes a day out of his normal duties to be there. The experts give their evidence. Then you go in the dock on oath.

The first question from the CPS in cross examination will be "Do you admit speeding?"

Now if you’ve told your motoring solicitor that you do admit to speeding, you can’t ask your solicitor to lie as they would be professionally embarrassed and would have to remove themselves from the case. They cannot stand by whilst you mislead the court. Also you would be committing perjury, which most people are not prepared to do.

If your answer is yes (you do admit to speeding), the prosecution lawyer will sit down again. You've just confessed! If the court accepts you were not going as fast as alleged you will still be convicted and get three points; that's the minimum for speeding. But you’ll still be liable to pay all those costs…

The reason we advise many people to take it on the chin is precisely because we’re expert motoring solicitors; we’re not rogues who are just after your money. Our integrity and reputation long term is far more important.

So as far as our kind caller is concerned, we've just saved him thousands of pounds. It’s just a shame he doesn't realise it.

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  FirstCar's legal expert is Emma Patterson, who runs Patterson Law, which specialises in motoring cases. If you've got a legal question, email us at info@firstcar.co.uk and we'll get Patterson Law to answer it for you. If you need the advice or representation of a great motoring lawyer, you can contact Emma or one of her colleagues, through her website.