Driving Home For Christmas?


Are you driving to see friends or family this Christmas? If you are, it's important to bear in mind that road safety and awareness is not just for the other 364 days a year, it applies on Christmas Day too.

Be careful when driving at Christmas
Many forget this and find themselves on the wrong side of the law following Christmas Day, really putting a damper over the rest of the year.

The Morning After The Night Before

Christmas Day is a time for celebration. Letting your hair down is all part of the process and having a drink (or four!) is typical for all those who choose to indulge. This usually isn't a problem on Christmas Day when you're in the comfort of your own home, but the day after when you may be heading to the sales or driving home it can become a problem.

Contrary to popular belief, there's no quick way to sober up. Coffee, cold showers and fry ups may make you feel better but they'll do nothing to get the alcohol out of your body. If you get stopped by a police officer and they request a breath test, you may be convicted of drink driving. If you pass the breathalyser test but the officers still believe you were driving erratically you may be charged with careless or inconsiderate driving which can each have a penalty of up to 9 penalty points (or a ban) and a fine of up to £5000.

Another joy to motorists that could potentially turn into a curse is the lack of traffic on Christmas Day. Usually, people head out the day before, leaving the roads full to the brim on Christmas Eve. A lack of traffic may lead to speeding if you're not careful, as you may be overly anxious to use the extra road space to get to where you're going faster. You may be anxious to get to your mothers, or even the in–laws, but speeding is not the answer.

Planning ahead and making sure you have adequate timing to make your journey is much better than racing like a 'bat out of hell'.

Speeding can result in 3 to 6 penalty points and a maximum fine of up to £1000, £2500 if this offence is committed on the motorway. In the most severe cases, you can be disqualified for speeding, a very unwelcome Christmas present, especially if your job relies on you having a driving licence.

Keep Your Licence For The New Year

Mobile phone use whilst driving is a problem outside of the Christmas period but can become even more of a problem over the holiday period. Answering the phone to last minute pickups from the supermarket, checking if your passengers are ready or just wishing someone a very Merry Christmas can result in 3 penalty points and a fine. You may think it's an innocent act but the law takes it very seriously.

If you find yourself in this situation, having a solicitor who can express your mitigating circumstances to a judge, may reduce your ban if it is a minor indiscretion.

If you have previous points on your licence, and then commit any of these offences, it could take you over the limit of 12 or more points in a 3 year period. Totting up rules then apply. If you are unable to argue that a ban would cause exceptional hardship, a judge will then disqualify you and you'll lose your licence for a minimum period. This minimum period is determined by the judge based on whether you have previous disqualifications.

Don't get caught out his Christmas, no one wants to start the year off in court. If you do, seeking legal advice could soften the blow and help you to keep your licence. Our Head of Motoring Offences, Julie Robertson is contactable over Christmas in an emergency via her mobile number: 07834 180 214.

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