Q A road that I use every day to travel to work has had the speed limit cut, but because I didnít realise, I have been caught speeding almost every day for a fortnight. I am a new driver ñ does it mean that I will get disqualified?
A You do not elaborate on being caught for speeding almost every day for a fortnight, but if you mean that you have a number of notices of intended prosecution during that period, then you would almost certainly lose your licence if you are convicted of those offences. If you were unaware of the change in speed limit due to inadequate signage or other failures of the technical requirements, you could be acquitted of the charges, so you should have this checked.
There is a two-year probationary period for newly qualified drivers and although you do not say how long it is since you passed your driving test, your description of yourself as a ‘new driver’ suggests that you passed your test fairly recently and certainly not as much as two years ago. If a driver accumulates six or more penalty points within two years of first passing a driving test, then his licence will be revoked. This is harsher than a disqualification for a set period, such as a disqualification of at least six months for accumulating 12 points or more in three years (the so-called ‘totting up’ disqualification), because revocation requires that the driver passes a new driving test before having his licence restored.
It is important that you, or your solicitor or barrister if you are represented, arranges for the court to hear all charges against you on the same occasion. Assuming you either plead guilty or are convicted after pleading not guilty, the court might be persuaded to disqualify you from driving rather than impose penalty points. Because the offences were committed on separate days, each offence would ordinarily attract between three and six penalty points, and although acquiring 12 penalty points during this period would render you liable to a disqualification of at least 6 months, this might be marginally better for you than a revocation of your licence, as you would not have to pass a test before your licence is returned to you.
There is, however, a better option and that is for the court to disqualify you for the offences (a ‘discretionary disqualification’) rather than by way of totting up 12 points. The reason for this is that penalty points cannot be ordered in addition to a discretionary disqualification, so you would not have your licence revoked. The disqualification can be for any period the court chooses, but is usually between seven and 56 days. Even eight weeks without your licence is preferable to the alternatives. The court might even sympathise with you, having committed the speeding offences through ignorance of the change in speed limit, which is rather different from committing so many offences within such a short time without any such mitigation, so it is possible that they might co-operate with this strategy.