Will mitigation help to reduce my ban?

You will always be given the opportunity to raise mitigation, even if you’re convicted after a trial. However, mitigation may not necessarily be as effective as you might think. This is because the magistrates are bound by the Sentencing Guidelines – meaning they have very little discretion to reduce the disqualification period.

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Mitigation in motoring offences

What you need to know.

In reality, mitigation is only worth presenting if you are facing a prison sentence; it may just persuade the court to suspend the prison sentence or give you community service instead. You can read more about prison sentences here. The easiest way to find out what punishment the court is likely to impose is to use our Driving Ban Calculator, or download a copy of the Magistrates Court Sentencing Guidelines.

Drink Driving Ban Calculator 

Calculate the length of your driving disqualification.

Step 1 of 3

Have you been convicted of drink driving within the last 10 years?

Step 2 of 3

What type of sample did you provide?

Step 3 of 3

What was the level reading for ?

If you are presenting mitigation to the court we would recommend instructing a solicitor. This is because your mitigation is going to sound less like a 'sob story' if it's presented by  someone else. Moreover, a solicitor will better understand the sentencing guidelines and what factors will help to reduce your penalty. We can then shape your mitigation to fit that criteria.

You might want to tell the court about;

  • Your employment (do you need your vehicle for work?)
  • Your family circumstances (do you travel to see children or have a mortgage to pay?)
  • The reason for committing the offence (this is not an excuse, but an explanation) 
  • The effect the sentence would have on your family (collecting children from school or taking relatives to hospital appointments) 

Character References for a traffic offence

A character reference is a letter written by someone who knows you and can comment on your character. This could be a friend, family member, colleague etc... You do not have to bring character references to court but they can help. Character references assist the court in understanding who you are on a personal level. The aim is to persuade the court that you are credible, likeable, hardworking individual who has expressed a deep remorse for the offence committed. If you're seeking help from a GP or counselling services, they may be prepared to produce a reference. 

Character references can be particularly helpful when presenting mitigation in court. We have spent years reducing driving penalties with the help of character references. The magistrates will always read the character references that you provide, before deciding what penalty to impose. They are not read out in open court and can affect the overall sentence.

A character reference can be written by anyone, including;

  • A long-term (family) friend
  • An employer
  • A family member
  • An associate
  • Someone with recognition (e.g. a priest, doctor, police officer).

Here's why you should avoid representing yourself

How to write a character reference for court

Character reference example / template 

Character references should be original and personal. They must be well balanced and demonstrate thought and consideration. They should aim to focus on a person’s qualities, but should not be afraid to discuss flaws in the name of accuracy and honesty. No one is perfect and the court know that. A realistic reference is much believable than an unrealistic one. 


Character Reference Template

Take a look at an employment character reference provided in a previous case. This reference was considered by the magistrates and helped to reduce a drink driving sentence.

Character reference tips

It may be that someone has asked you to write a character reference for a criminal charge. In this situation, there are some important points to consider:

  • The reference should be typed (rather than hand written)
  • It should also be signed and dated
  • Use a letterhead if you have one
  • Address the reference to the “Presiding Magistrate” if the matter is listed in the Magistrates’ Court, or the “Presiding Judge” if the matter is listed in the County Court or Supreme Court. If in doubt, address the reference to “Dear Sirs”.
  • The reference should be no longer than one page. Keep it interesting and relevant.

What to include in a character reference

The reference should be honest. It should provide a detailed opinion of what a person is like, often in ways that no solicitor – no matter how good – can explain. The following points may help to get you started:

  • Introduce yourself & your relationship with the accused
  • How long have you known the accused for?
  • Your knowledge of the charge
  • Your opinion of the accused’s character
  • Has the accused shown remorse? In what way?
  • Your knowledge of the accused’s driving record.

Character references – the ‘dos and donts’

  • Do not tell the court what to do
  • Do not suggest a penalty that should be imposed
  • Do not be critical of the legal system
  • Do not suggest that the accused did not commit the offence
  • Do not be unrealistic. The reference must be honest and believable


NEXT STEPS: Free Legal Advice from M.A.J Law

M.A.J Law are a specialist team driving defence solicitors. We believe that every motorists has the right to independent legal advice. For that reason, we offer every motorist free specialist initial advice no matter what your circumstances.