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Extended driving disqualification provisions come into force next week
Statutory provisions passed in 2009, designed to make a driving disqualification more meaningful if the offender is also serving a custodial sentence, are being brought into force next week.
Schedule 16 to the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 inserts new sections – making separate provision for Scotland and for England & Wales – into the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. The England & Wales sections were brought into force in 2015; an order has been made that the Scottish sections will take effect from 16 July 2018.
New ss 35C and 35D apply to Scotland. Section 35C applies where a court is sentencing an offender to custody at the same time as disqualifying, and requires the court to impose an "extension period" in addition to the discretionary disqualification which in most cases will equal half the custody part of the sentece. Section 35D applies where the offender is already serving a custodial sentence, or is then being sentenced to custody for a different offence, and requires the court, in selecting the period of disqualification, to consider "the diminished effect of disqualification as a distinct punishment if the person who is disqualified is also detained in pursuance of a sentence of imprisonment".
The provisions also apply where the court imposes a period of disqualification under s 248 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, which covers offences, other than those triable only summarily, where a vehicle is used to commit an offence).
There are consequential changes to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 relating to drink drive rehabilitation courses (amended s 34A) and applications for removal of disqualification (amended s 42).
Guidance on the application of the equivalent English provisions where other offences are involved was given by the Court of Appeal in R v Needham  ECWA Crim 455.