We have all heard it, one person in the family or a friend already has 9 points on their driving licence, and a notice of intended prosecution drops through the door in relation to another traffic offence. If they tot up to 12 points for offences in the last 3 years, they can be banned for 6 months. So they ask a family member to accept the points for them.

It seems such a minor thing to do – victimless – who will ever find out? Indeed friends will even talk casually about doing this.

Yet often the police do find out. If they do, it is serious, very serious as both the person who committed the traffic offence and the person who took the points will be arrested and may be charged with ‘perverting the course of justice’.

This is one of the most serious offences that can come before a court because perverting the course of justice strikes at the very heart of the justice system.

Due to its seriousness, whether a defendant pleads guilty or is found guilty after a trial, the sentence will almost always be imprisonment. It will not be suspended – it will be a sentence of immediate prison, even for a first offence.

“Offences of perverting the course of justice are intrinsically so serious that they will almost always attract an immediate custodial sentence unless there are exceptional circumstances justifying a different course” (R v Cronin (2017)).

Yet there are a surprising number of people who commit this offence, thinking that they will easily get away with it.

In reality, however, the police take a keen interest in these cases, and often it requires only a modicum of detective work to reveal the true offender.

The consequences can be horrendous, the points follow, as does the disqualification which now becomes a reality with no realistic prospect of arguing exceptional hardship, and worst of all, two people are arrested, possibly in the early hours, in front of friends and family, maybe even young children.

And finally, a prison sentence follows. All to avoid a few penalty points.

The irony is that in many cases the disqualification could have been avoided if early advice had been obtained from an experienced road traffic practitioner. For example, where one has totted up to 12 points, if the Court accepts that the driver or others will suffer exceptional hardship by loss of their licence, then they have the option not to disqualify.

Many otherwise decent hardworking people find themselves before the court through decisions made in panic. Before acting always seek advice.


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