Most people know that a driving ban may follow for serious road traffic offences or a series of lower-level traffic crimes as a result of ‘totting up’. Few of our client’s know that disqualifications can follow in other cases if a vehicle is used to facilitate the commission of an offence.
What is the relevant law?
There are two relevant provisions in the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000.
Section 146 provides for a general power to disqualify a person from driving following a conviction for any offence. There is no requirement for a vehicle to have been used during the crime.
In Cliff  EWCA Crim 3139, the court held:
‘In our judgment, it is not necessary for the offence to be connected to the use of the motor car. The section provides an additional punishment available to the court. That is not to say that a court can impose a period of disqualification arbitrarily. There must be a sufficient reason for the disqualification. The reasons will, of course, be open to scrutiny by an appellate court, as they are in this case.’
The disqualification period can be ‘…for such period as it thinks fit’.
The case law is now always consistent (see for example Bye  EWCA Crim 1230 and compare with Cornell-Gallardo  EWCA Crim 3151), so an advocate must always be careful to scrutinise the facts of each case and challenge the making of such orders if appropriate.
The provisions under section 147 of the Act are much better known and can only be used where the offence is punishable on indictment with imprisonment of 2 years or more or is an offence involving an assault. The magistrates’ only have power in relation to the latter.
The court must be:
‘…satisfied that a motor vehicle was used (by the person convicted or by anyone else) for the purpose of committing, or facilitating the commission of, the offence in question’, or
concerning assault offences ‘…satisfied that the assault was committed by driving a motor vehicle’.
Again, the disqualification period can be ‘…for such period as it thinks fit’.
Some Judges appear to be particularly eager on using this power, while it rarely seems to occur to others, so it can be very much a lottery so far as the sentencing process is concerned.
The case law concerning this provision is complex and voluminous, so all advocates need to ensure that they are not taken by surprise when it is mentioned (often with no notice) as part of the sentencing process.
All of our advocates are highly trained and able to respond appropriately to all sentencing and other issues.
How we can assist
If you need specialist advice, then get in touch with our team of specialist criminal defence specialists on 0207 8373456 and let us help, we deal with all manner of criminal offences on a daily basis and have the expertise to get you the best result possible.