Legal costs estimates for defending driving offences

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There are so many unknown quantities in criminal law that make it difficult to know at the outset of a case how much work will be needed and what the total legal costs are likely to be.

However while it is not always possible to know how long a case might take, what evidence may come to light, what issues might be raised, how long a trial may last or how many witnesses may be needed, we do know it is important for our clients to have an understanding of the legal costs they are likely to incur.

We have therefore identified the following cost estimates for some common driving offence scenarios:-

Summary Only Driving Offences

These are driving offences that will only be dealt with in a Magistrates Court and will not go up to the Crown Court – for example, careless driving, speeding, no insurance, drink or drug driving.

    • Guilty plea at the first hearing with sentence going ahead on the same day (most common) – estimated £500 – £900 plus VAT.
    • Guilty plea at the first hearing with sentence being adjourned to a future date (therefore requiring 2 Court dates) – estimated £500 – £1,100 plus VAT.
    • Not guilty plea which will typically involve a first hearing for plea, a second hearing to plan the case and deal with administration and trial issues and a third hearing being the trial.
      • Up to a 1 day trial (most common) – estimated £1,500 – £3,000 plus VAT.
      • Up to a 2 day trial – estimated £1,500 – £3,500 plus VAT.
      • More than 2 day trial – estimated £3,000 – £7,000 plus VAT.

Either-Way Driving Offences

These are driving offences which can be heard in a Magistrates Court or Crown Court – for example dangerous driving and causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving.

1. Cases remaining in the Magistrates Court

    • Guilty plea at the first hearing with sentence going ahead on the same day (most common) – estimated £500 – £900 plus VAT.
    • Guilty plea at the first hearing with sentence being adjourned to a future date (therefore requiring 2 Court dates) – estimated £500 – £1,100 plus VAT.
    • Not guilty plea which will typically involve a first hearing for plea, a second hearing to plan the case and deal with administration and trial issues and a third hearing being the trial.
      • Up to a 1 day trial (most common) – estimated £1,500 – £3,000 plus VAT.
      • Up to a 2 day trial – estimated £1,500 – £3,500 plus VAT.
      • More than 2 day trial – estimated £3,000 – £7,000 plus VAT.

2. Cases being heard at the Crown Court

Every case starts in the Magistrates Court.  The first hearing in the Magistrates Court would therefore be estimated at £500 – £900 plus VAT.  In addition, the costs below must be taken into account:

    • If the case moves to the Crown Court, there will be a first hearing in the Crown Court.  This could be a guilty plea with sentence on the same day or a different future date or a not guilty plea with further hearings and a trial required.  Estimated costs for a solicitor to prepare the case £300 – £600 plus VAT.  There will be a barrister required for the first hearing estimated at a further £300 – £750 plus VAT.
    • If the first hearing at the Crown Court does not conclude the case, the following costs are estimated:-
      • Each additional hearing in the Crown Court on a guilty plea for sentence – estimated £500 – £1,000 plus VAT and a barrister’s fee of £300 – £750 plus VAT.  This includes work between hearings to prepare the case.
      • Each additional hearing on a not guilty plea between first hearing and trial – estimated £500 – £1,000 plus VAT and a barrister’s fee of £300 – £750 plus VAT.  This includes work between hearings to prepare the case.
      • Trials and preparation for trials can mean that the case from start to finish (up to and including a 1 day trial) can cost between £2,000 – £10,000 plus VAT and a barrister’s fee.
      • Trials of up to 1 week – estimated £10,000 to £20,000 plus VAT and a barrister’s fee.
      • Trials of more than 1 week – estimated in excess of £20,000 plus VAT and a barrister’s fee.

Costs estimates

Please be aware that each case is different and it may be that the costs in your case are lower than the top end estimates.  Much depends on the complexity of the case, such as how many witnesses there are for the prosecution and defence, whether expert reports required, whether there are videos, CCTV footage, large bundles of paperwork, photographs or other material to consider and advise on and whether a barrister’s input is needed.

Costs will also depend on how much legal advice and support you need as this has a direct bearing on how many hours may be spent on your case.

If you have any queries about the legal costs of defending a driving offence or any other criminal matter then call us on 01272 372128 or email us at [email protected]