Road Traffic Solicitors in Scotland often observe that most clients charged with a serious road traffic offence share the same apprehensions about court, including the process involved and what is to be expected of them when in court. This is because most clients contesting a road traffic case such as drink driving offences, speeding offences, illegal mobile phone use, and careless or dangerous driving offences have not been to court before and is therefore unfamiliar with the preparation required and the process involved.
This article therefore has two objectives:
First it aims to provide a greater understanding of the basic elements required in the preparation, procedure and processes involved to defend a road traffic case.
Secondly, it should also provide the reader with enough information to be able to select a solicitor who truly specialises in road traffic cases. The importance of this process cannot be over stated. You only get one shot at defending your case. While there are many solicitors who might not take certain road traffic cases on because of the intricacies involved, others sadly may simply be happy to muddle there way through a case. This article provides enough information to be able to probe the experience and qualifications of any solicitor, and in particular to form your own view to verify the road traffic solicitor is really a specialist.
The article is set up in a question and answer format to help answer actual questions received from both prospective and new clients.
Q1. What is the difference between a solicitor, a lawyer and a solicitor advocate?
The Law Society of Scotland is the regulatory body for solicitors who must have a practicing certificate to represent clients in court. The term lawyer is general and more universal description of one who practices in the legal profession. The two terms are really interchangeable. A solicitor advocate however is a special class of solicitor who has been authorised by the Law Society to appear for clients in the high court of justiciary. They have been granted rights of audience after passing extensive advocacy exams. This allows them to appear in court in very serious and complex cases.
Q2. Which court am I appearing in and will there be a jury?
Most road traffic cases are dealt with either in the Sheriff court or in the Justice of the Peace Court either with a sheriff or a magistrate sitting without a jury. The more serious charges such as dangerous driving, driving whilst disqualified or drink driving will call in the sheriff court and speeding cases insurance offences, careless driving and Tachograph cases are usually raised in the justice of the peace court. In fact over the years the number of road traffic prosecutions in justice of the peace courts is forever increasing and now form the majority of cases calling in such courts throughout Scotland. Generally these cases start off by way of a summons or a citation posted or served at your home address with a date for …