Magistrates’ Court Summons for Driving Offences

The majority of driving offences are dealt with by Magistrates Courts. There are some exceptions to this, please see our Crown Court guide for examples.

A Magistrates’ Court is different from a Crown Court as there is no jury; there are either three magistrates or a judge. The judge normally deals with the more serious driving offences.

Maximum punishment for driving offences at Magistrates’ Court

Most driving offences fall into the category of Summary Offences and are exclusively dealt with by Magistrates’ Courts. Summary offences have a maximum punishment that can be applied of:

  • 6 months in prison (if found guilty of more than one summary offence this can go up to a maximum of 12 months) and/or
  • fine of up to £5,000

It is vital that you obtain professional qualified motoring legal advice on your case and plea.

A trial at a Magistrates’ Court has a set procedure, as follows:

1. The driving offences for which you are being charged are read out by the court clerk and you are asked how you want to plead, guilty or not guilty. Pleading guilty means there is no trial and you will be convicted and sentenced by the court. Sometimes you get a less severe sentence by pleading guilty at this early stage.

2. If you have pleaded not guilty, the prosecution then ‘put their case’ as to why they think you committed the crime. This is achieved by presenting evidence to the court. For motoring offences this could be evidence from an expert or video evidence from a camera device.

3. It is then your turn, or the solicitor/barrister that is representing you, to provide evidence and argue against the prosecution.

4. When both sides of the argument have been heard, the magistrates or judge will then proceed to make a decision as to whether you are guilty or not guilty.

I have been found not guilty at a Magistrates’ Court

If you are found to be not guilty of the driving offence then you are free to leave the court. You can also apply to have your legal costs re-imbursed.

I have been found guilty at a Magistrates’ Court

If found guilty of the driving offence it is then the judge that will sentence you. We recommend that you have a solicitor as they will put forward mitigating circumstances to the judge which may lessen the sentence.

You will normally be sentenced right away, unless the judge needs to see further information (pre-sentence report) before sentencing occurs or if the sentence is higher than the maximum a Magistrates’ Court can set, in this case it will move to a Crown Court for sentencing.

If you have a trial at a Magistrates’ Court for a driving offence please get in contact with us to discuss your options.

Disclaimer The contents of these pages are provided as an information guide only and are limited to offences committed in England and Wales. No responsibility is accepted for any errors, omissions, or misleading statements on these pages or any site to which these pages connect, including any feature or aspect of such site or pages, whether provided by Motor Defence Solicitors or by any organisation, company or individual. No mention of any organisation, company or individual, whether on these pages or on other sites to which these pages are linked shall imply any approval or warranty as to the standing and capability of any such organisations, company or individual on the part of Motor Defence Solicitors.