Typed Letterhead Here (If possible)
To: The Presiding Magistrate of the Local Court
GENERAL TOPICS TO BE COVERED
- That you are aware of the offender’s drink driving offence(s).
- Do not say that he/she is innocent.
- Length of time you have known the offender for, and how you both met.
- Your views about the offender, and anything specific about him/her.
- Do not tell a Magistrate on how to do his/her job. Avoid telling the Magistrate what to do.
- Whether you believe the offender is unlikely to commit a drink driving offence again.
- Where the letter is from the offender’s employer, it should express:
- The title or position of the person writing this letter (on behalf of the company);
- What the offender’s position is in the company;
- Period you and the offender have worked in the company for;
- Whether a driver’s licence is essential for the offender to keep his/her role/position i.e. extent of the need for a driver licence for work (explain why there is such a need; whether there is a requirement to carry bulky equipment to various sites or locations for work);
- Financial or other effect on the employer if the offender is disqualified from driving; and
- Whether a conviction and/or a licence disqualification will result the offender’s dismissal in the company; background checks conducted and how often; working with children checks; or high security clearance requirements.
- A letter from the offender’s partner or someone he/she has shared child custody with, or a family member- expressing the responsibilities the offender takes on for family members, including children; explain the extent the offender needs a licence, including the hardship on the people who rely on the offender to keep a licence to drive. If the offender is the sole income provider in the family; any financial commitments such as any loan or mortgage repayments made by the offender.
- Evidence of financial responsibilities i.e. mortgage or loan repayments reflected in current bank statements showing income and expenses.
- If the offender has a drinking problem, then express what is being done to address this.
- Where the offender has completed the traffic offenders program (TOIP). Explain what insight, remorse and contrition the offender has expressed, if any, for the drink driving offence. Insight and remorse can be expressed even if the offender hasn’t done the TOIP.
- A statement that the writer of this letter is prepared to appear in court to give evidence.
- The writer’s postal address should be included.
Print name of writer
Basic Rules About Character References for Drink Driving Charges
- In preparation for the drink driving sentence in court, each letter should be typed, signed and dated before handing it to the Court.
- If it’s from an employer, the letter should also be on the company’s letterhead if possible.
- Ensure each letter is reviewed by an experienced drink driving lawyer before handing it to the court. Keep in mind, a Magistrate or Judge will be reading it.
- The original signed and dated letters should be brought to court. A copy of each should also be given to your lawyer before the court date.
- Each letter should be addressed to “Your Honour”.
- Each letter should be written in the writer’s own wording. It does not have to be formal.
- Each character letter should be within 1 page. This is because Court get very busy with reading lots of documents in a day. Each letter needs to be on point by highlighting the important things for the Court to determine an appropriate penalty.
- Check for spelling errors. It’s best to hand up the original letters to the Court.
What Your ‘Referee’ Should Say About Him/Herself
- The writer (of the character letter) should briefly state his/her job and title, including the period of time he/she has been doing this for.
- Any positive community contributions that he/she has made to date, including charity. Be careful not to come across as arrogant or overconfident.
- This information should be very briefly stated within a sentence or two.
What the ‘Referee’ Should Say About the Offender
- How you met the offender and how long you know each other for.
- How often you see the offender and maintain contact.
- Has the offender expressed concerns of maintaining his/her job if convicted and unable to drive; affect a disqualification will likely have on dependants, such as children, partner & other family members who may depend on the offender’s licence to drive them around.
- Your opinion of the offender. If this is the offender’s first drink driving offence, then express whether this drink driving offence is out of character, and whether you believe he is unlikely to reoffend. Comment on your opinion of the offender’s personality i.e. responsible, caring, trusting, humble.
- There’s no point in saying that this drink driving offence is out of character if there has been a previous drink driving offence committed by the offender.
What the ‘Referee’ Should Say About the Offence, Offender’s Attitude to the Offence and Insight
- That the writer is aware of the offender having completed the traffic offenders program (TOIP); whether the offender has expressed remorse and insight into the drink driving offence. Particularly after having completed the TOIP.
- The writer should state whether the offender has expressed insight into the dangers of drink driving, how it effects families, and whether he/she understands that having a driver’s licence is a privilege, not a right.
- The writer should state whether he/she believes the offender takes the drink driving offence very seriously; whether the offender has expressed feelings of embarrassment for committing the offence, especially after going through the police charge procedure, and attending court.
- The writer should comment on whether the writer is aware and believes the offence is serious.
- If the offender has a drinking problem, or mental health issues, the writer can comment on whether the offender has been addressing those issues by attending counselling or other community treatment.
This character reference guide for drink driving cases is a guide only.
Everything stated in each letter should be accurate and truthful. Always keep in mind that a Magistrate or Judge will be reading it.
It’s strongly advised to get an experienced drink driving lawyer to review your letters before handing them to the court.
Remember, that each letter should be unique and written in the writer’s own style and wording.
Tip: If a drink driving conviction may affect your job, look into your employment contract which may express what happens if you get a criminal conviction. These clauses are generally very generic and may not assist much- which is why it’s best to also get a letter from your employer addressing the points discussed above.