Q: I’ve come into biking late, passing my test a year ago and buying a CBR600F. Why didn’t I do this earlier, I’d think, every time I hopped on… until some blind young mum pulled out on me and I swerved to avoid her, putting me on the wrong side of the road and hitting a car head-on.
Consequently, Mr Plod hit me with a Dangerous Driving charge, which I’m going to fight, but the duty solicitor said I earn too much money to get Legal Aid, and even if I’m found not guilty, I won’t get my private legal fees back. I earn £45,000pa and my wife earns £10,000 part-time. We’re just about paying our household bills. This seems so unjust.
A: Your duty solicitor is correct. If you’d been charged before 01/10/12 it would have been a different story, but The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 changed the rules. If you’re a middle income household, you won’t get Legal Aid; but you do need legal representation, so you’ll have to pay if you want it.
Even if the State’s case fails and you’re found not guilty, you’ll only get your legal fees repaid in line with Legal Aid rates, which will not cover costs, I guarantee it. It’s like the State breaking your legs, forcing you to pay for private healthcare and then repaying you in-line with NHS rates. Unfair, but sadly that’s the way it is – a tax on the innocent in my view.
White Dalton Solicitors is Britain’s most specialist motorcycle law practice. Managing partner Andrew ‘Chef’ Prendergast and his bike riding barristers compile Motor Cycle Monthly’s legal column very month, offering our readers essential motorcycle legal advice. www.whitedalton.co.uk
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