75 Buccleuch Street, Dumfries

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Road Traffic

Most people would be lost without their driving licenses, and many people’s livelihoods and daily lives depend on them. From speeding to causing death by dangerous driving, we have represented clients through cases covering the whole range of road traffic law. And we can represent you in your case in any level of court in Scotland – Justice of the Peace Court, Sheriff Court, High Court or Appeal Court.

You may be eligible for legal aid to help with your fees. If not, our monthly payment plans make legal fees more manageable for you.

All you have to do is contact us.

Road Traffic Law – where do I stand?

  • Remember, Road Traffic cases are dealt with as criminal law cases, so the advice in our section on criminal law also applies to these cases.
  • Take your driving licence with you whenever you go to court. You’ll need both your photocard and the paper part, if you have a two-part licence.
  • If you’re charged with being the driver or keeper of a vehicle and you weren’t, this is known as a special capacity defence, and you need to tell the court this at the first calling of the case, before you plead not guilty.
  • When you see your solicitor, take all the paperwork you have relevant to your case with you.
  • You can be arrested and held in police custody overnight if you do not attend (or arrange representation) at court in some circumstances.
  • If you change your address, let your solicitor if you have one (or the court if you don’t) know as soon as possible.


  • Speeding charges, where the speed is just above the limit, are normally dealt with by fixed penalties. If the speed is well above the limit, it may go straight to court. If the speed is high (depending on individual areas), there is a danger of disqualification on conviction or guilty plea.
  • Speeding carries a minimum of three penalty points which will go on your licence if you’re convicted or plead guilty.

Careless and Dangerous Driving

  • Careless driving means “a standard of driving below that of a reasonable driver which can be described as careless”. Obviously, it’s the judge’s definition that counts!
  • Careless driving carries more penalty points than speeding, and there is a risk of disqualification if it’s a serious enough case.
  • Even if you were a bit careless, but the other person was mostly to blame for causing an accident, you can still be charged. Theoretically, both drivers involved in a collision could be charged if their driving was sub-standard.
  • You don’t have to have had a collision to be charged with careless driving.
  • Dangerous driving means “a standard of driving so far below that of a reasonable driver that it can be described as dangerous”.
  • The danger caused can be actual or potential. Even excessively high speeds or driving in a way which seems dangerous to the judge – even without anything actually going wrong – can be charged.
  • If convicted of (or you plead guilty to) dangerous driving, the minimum sentence the court can impose is a 12 month ban with an order that you have to re-sit and pass the driving test at the end.
  • It’s the degree of carelessness or danger that counts for the court in assessing sentence, but you can be charged with causing death by careless driving, or causing death by dangerous driving.

Drink Driving

  • Drink driving carries a minimum 12-month ban on a first conviction.
  • Remember it takes longer for alcohol to get out of your system than it does to get it in. Be very wary about driving the morning after a heavy session. “Morning after” drink-driving cases, when someone’s gone back to pick their car up where they left it, are very common.
  • You must do as the police tell you if they’re breathalysing you. If they get it wrong, it can be sorted out later – not at the roadside.
  • Many offences will put penalty points on your licence. These stay “live” for three years from the date of the points to the date of any new offence.
  • If you collect 12 or more points over that 3-year period, the court will disqualify you for 6 months (minimum) unless you can prove to the court that there are “special reasons” why you should not be disqualified.
    • The most common of these is “exceptional hardship”. If you can prove that losing your licence will cause you or those around you exceptional hardship, you may be able to avoid disqualification.
    • The hardship has to be “exceptional”. Many people lose their jobs if they lose their licences, therefore the courts don’t regard that as “exceptional”.
    • If however, you can prove that others will inevitably lose their jobs, or that family members or work colleagues will be dramatically and seriously affected, you may have a chance.


  • Only drivers with a valid licence are covered by insurance. If you don’t have a licence, you can’t be insured, and that’s a separate offence.
  • Even if you’re a provisional licence holder, if you haven’t complied with all the conditions (displaying L-plates, having a qualified driver with you, staying off motorways), it could still take you out of the terms of your insurance policy.
  • A number of offences can be committed if something happens when you’re on the road (even if it isn’t your fault) if you don’t have insurance

For more details, contact us.