Courts don’t take drink driving lightly. Over one in eight deaths of Australians under the age of 25 is due to drink driving. Police have conducted millions of breath tests since the scheme was first introduced over 30 years ago.
The cost to individuals and the wider community is huge, so if you have been charged with drink driving, there is a good chance the magistrate is not going to be predisposed to dealing with you leniently.
However there are certain things you can do to show the magistrate that you take full responsibility for your actions and are very remorseful. Writing an apology letter to the court for your drink driving offence is one of these steps.
Amongst the factors that a magistrate will consider when deciding your sentence include remorse shown, so long as you take full responsibility for your actions and acknowledge the dangers of drink driving.
Magistrates will also take into account:
- Whether or not you have any previous criminal convictions
- Your overall driving record
- Whether you entered an early guilty plea
- If you are unlikely to re-offend
- Whether you undertook a traffic offender program
- The effect of a criminal conviction and/or a loss of licence upon you
These are all classed as mitigating factors, which may serve to make your penalty more lenient, or in some cases persuade the court that a conviction should not be recorded against your name at all. If you avoid a conviction, you will also automatically avoid a licence disqualification and a fine.
If you have participated in the Traffic Offenders Program, or are currently doing so, you can mention this in the letter, as well as what it has taught you in relation to your offence. The Program convenor will also send a letter to the court confirming your successful completion.
A good apology letter to the court will outline how you fulfil any of the above requirements.
Highlighting reasons that must be considered by the magistrate makes writing an apology letter for a drink driving offence an excellent thing to do.
Make sure you are honest and polite throughout your letter. Address your letter to ‘Your Honour’ and don’t forget to sign and date it.
A drink driving charge, as well as potential jail time or the imposition of a fine, could mean a suspended licence or a criminal record. If these particularly concern you, make sure you let the magistrate know why these things would have a negative impact on your life.
If your job would be affected by a loss of licence, because, for example, if you need to drive to get to work or your job involves driving, say this in your letter
Mention the impact that a possible criminal record could have for you in relation to your current or future employment prospects. If your job requires you to remain conviction free, or demands frequent overseas travel which may be affected by a criminal record, tell this to the magistrate.
Tell the magistrate why you are writing and make sure you accept full responsibility for your actions. A magistrate is not going to be impressed if you come across as unwilling to admit that you were wrong, and it won’t say much for the likelihood that you have learnt your lesson.
Finally, outline how you have taken steps to be a responsible driver from now on. For example, if you have decided in the future not to drive after even one alcoholic drink, mention this in your apology letter.
It may be worthwhile thinking about getting a lawyer who can guide you about how to write an apology letter to the court for your drink driving offence, but will be able to provide you with legal advice, represent you in court and in many cases help you to avoid a criminal record.