Join Wiseman Lawyers Traffic Lawyer Andrew Wiseman at Roma Magistrates Court as he represents a client charged with Repeat Drug Driving. Watch Andrew explain what happened in the courtroom, along with the outcome which he achieved and how he achieved it.
So right, today I’m at Roma Magistrates Court. About a five and a bit hour drive west of Brisbane. Ordinarily I’d fly to Roma, but the flights are pretty much in disarray and I felt like a road trip. So, I drove up yesterday, stayed at Roma last night. Client today was charged with repeat drug driving. There’re two types of drug driving. There’s what’s called under the influence of a drug, meaning you were high on drugs, which wasn’t the case today, and then there’s a lesser charge of drive whilst relevant drug present, meaning you’ve consumed at some point, the effects have worn off, but there’s still traces of it in your system. My client had been charged previously, within the last five years, once for relevant drug present, but as well, once for mid-range drink driving, a reading 0.102. They were both within the last five years.
The legislation basically considers, for the sake of penalties, drink and drug driving to be the same thing. So effectively, he’s got two previes in the last five years. Worst case for repeat drug driving’s a lifetime loss of licence and the mandatory minimum’s six months. Again, this was his third offence of this type in the last five years. So, we do see people going by themselves with lawyers that aren’t specialised not getting a lot of change out of the 12 to 18 month mark.
With regard to the recording and convictions, if it’s a first offence and it’s appropriate, based on the person’s employment, I will push for no conviction recorded. This is a traffic offence, relevant drug present, not a criminal offence. But if there’s previous offending, I rarely, if ever, push for no conviction recorded a second time. So basically, I didn’t act for him previously, but the drink driving previously, that was a recorded conviction, but the relevant drug present previously that wasn’t a recorded conviction.
So even though his previous drug driving was no conviction recorded, he’d been given a recorded conviction for this type of offence previously for the mid-range drink driving. But even if there was no drink driving, if you’ve got a previous drug driving with a no conviction recorded, you’re never going to get it a second time. And again, I rarely push for it, but in this instance, this guy, absolute best case scenario, was facing a six month disqualification. You can’t get a work licence if you’ve lost your licence previously in the last five years. So absolute best case was six months off the road and, as I said, worst case is lifetime or 12 to 18 months if you’re not properly represented.
But he held a commercial weapons licence and he works part-time as a commercial pest shooter. So what I’m getting at is if he loses his primary employment, if he was to get no conviction recorded for the weapons licence and able to keep his commercial weapons licence, he could earn some money still shooting roos and whatnot.
So, on that basis, I thought it was worth pushing for no conviction recorded a second time, even though, if I’m honest, I thought it was doomed to fail. But sometimes when you’re running out of options, you’ve just got to try and leverage what you’ve got the best you can. So, the long and short of it is, I was pushing for no conviction recorded a second time. Again, if I’m honest, it was doomed to fail, but sometimes it’s worth just pushing it and if you’re persuasive enough and you can, I guess, pull on the magistrates heartstrings hard enough, you can get an increased level of compassion, for want of a better word, in certain circumstances.
The magistrate’s obviously got to balance the difficulties of the person, the family, in question, they’re going to suffer versus community expectations and the need to set an example with regard to repeat offending. But again, it was a balancing act and I thought, look, if I push this hard enough, I might be able to tip it in my client’s favour. So anyway, I was trying to get no conviction recorded a second time and I was also trying to get the minimum six months.
With regard of preparing, we got our client to complete the reformatory course we get all of our clients to do, got him to get character references based a template we provide all of our clients. There’s an online form we get our clients to complete. One of the ways we’re so good at getting the outcomes we get is that we are very good, Clancy and I, at putting magistrates in the shoes of our clients.
And one of the tools we use to be able to do that is we’ve created this online form that allows you, at your leisure to, maybe on a Sunday afternoon with a cuppa, take your time, because if you can imagine, if I’m on the phone to you, what do you do for living? Blah, blah, blah. You’re not going to think properly, you’re just going to give spur at the moment responses and Clancy and I won’t have meaningful information to work with.
Whereas, if you’ve taken 40 minutes of your time, while you’re relaxed and having a cuppa or a bit of cheesecake or whatever, to give proper answers, the more meat we’ve got to work with, the better we’re going to be at putting the magistrate in your shoes and the better we’re going to be at allowing them to see your life through your eyes and the difficulties you’re going to suffer with a severely adverse penalty.
Anyway, so we got him to fill out that online form, requested the police brief. I prepared my submissions a few days ago, drove up yesterday, stayed here last night, met the client this morning. Regret there’s no real conference room here, so we just grabbed a little bit of hard standing around the corner. I ran through my submissions, the procedure and what he can expect.
Went in. I forewarned the prosecutor. Sometimes, if you give the prosecutor the courtesy of letting him know the direction you’re going to go in, it gives him 10 or 15 minutes to mull it over. Whereas if you just ambush him, it’s like anyone, if you ambush anyone, they’re just going knee jerk response in the opposite direction. If I had to throw that grenade at the bar table, demanding no conviction recorded and I hadn’t even explained my reasonings to the prosecutor beforehand, they’re just going to pull the shutters down and, “No, don’t be stupid.” Whereas if you give him the courtesy of, A, forewarning him and, B, explaining your position, at least they know where you’re coming from.
I’m not saying they’re going to be any less vigorous in resisting you and, to be Frank, the prosecutor did resist the submission. But, I gave him the courtesy of letting him know beforehand. Look, there was a bit of argy bargy on the no conviction recorded point, because, I mean, what I was asking for was highly unreasonable. It is unreasonable for me to push for no conviction recorded a second time and I basically admitted that. I used the phrase, I know I’m grossly overreaching, however, this is my thinking, this is my logic. If you keep some money coming in, it’s one less family on the dole queue.
Look, ultimately I was successful on both fronts. A, I was able to persuade the magistrate to give the mandatory minimum six months and, B, I was successful in persuading the magistrate to not record a conviction, for the second time, for his repeat drug driving charge. So, six month disqualification, no conviction recorded a second time. Clients obviously relieved, very happy.
I’m Andrew Wiseman at Roma Magistrates Court. Thanks for watching.