Good Character Reference Sample for Driving Offences

Typed Letterhead if Possible

Date:

To: The Presiding Magistrate of the Local Court

Your Honour,

GENERAL TOPICS TO BE COVERED

  • That you, as the writer, are aware of the offender’s driving charge(s); and
    • Your aware the offender is guilty. There’s no point saying that he/she is innocent.
  • The period of time you’ve known the offender for; how you’ve come to know each other.
  • Your thoughts of the offender, and anything specific about him/her.
  • Avoid telling the Magistrate how to deal with the driving offence.
  • Whether the offender is the sort of person who would commit this kind of driving offence.
  • If the letter is from the offender’s employer, the person writing it on behalf of the company should comment on, the writer’s position in the company; period of time spent in the company; whether a driving conviction or disqualification will or may affect the offender’s continued employment i.e. a loss of licence will result in dismissal; whether background checks are conducted, and how often; whether the offender is required to uphold a high security clearance permit for work, and why.
  • If the letter is from the offender’s employer, the writer can also express whether the offender’s role requires a valid driver licence and why; how often the offender is on the road for as part of the job, including the various locations the offender is required to attend, number of areas required to cover in a day, and the kinds of equipment required to be carried in the vehicle as part of the offender’s job.
  • If applicable, regarding the offender’s job and family, how many people, and who, rely on the offender to have a driver licence (explain why). Also express the potential or current effect financially or otherwise on the offender’s ability to discharge those responsibilities.
  • If the offender is a sole income provider in a household, express this. Where the offender’s income significantly contributes to all household expenses, explain this (explain the amount of repayments the offender makes). It’s also recommended to back this up with providing recent bank statements showing outgoings and income to the court.
  • If the offender has completed an accredited traffic offenders program (TOIP), express the extent of insight and remorse expressed by the offender for the driving offence, especially after having attended this course.
  • A statement that the writer is prepared to appear in court to give evidence about the offender if required to do so for the driving charge(s).
  • The writer’s postal address should be included.

Yours truly,

Signed

Print name of writer

Basic Rules About Character References for Driving Charges

  • These letters should be typed. If it’s from a business/company, then it should be typed on a letter head.
  • Each letter should be dated and signed.
  • The original signed and dated letters should be brought to court. A signed and dated copy of each should be emailed to your lawyer before the court date.
  • Letters should be addressed to either “Your Honour, or “the Presiding Magistrate”.
  • The letter’s don’t need to be formal. The letters should be in the style and wording of the writer/author.
  • The letters should be within 1 page long. Magistrate’s read lots of documents in a day and have limited court time. It’s best to get straight to the point by addressing the key things that can really make a difference in getting the best possible result.

What Your ‘Referee’ Should Say About Him/Herself

  • The writer should briefly state what he/she does as a living, and how long he/she has been doing this for. His/her title or position should also be expressed.
  • The writer should briefly explain any positive contributions he/she has made to the community i.e. charity. Be careful not to sound arrogant or overconfident here.
  • This part should be expressed over 1-2 sentences only.

What the ‘Referee’ Should Say About the Offender

  • You as the writer should express how you got to know the offender; The period of time you have known each other for.
  • How often you two maintain contact.
  • The offender’s personality. Here, you as the writer can express whether you consider the offender to be responsible, trustworthy, reliable caring, hardworking etc. This can also include the extent of commitment you believe the offender has for family and work responsibilities.
  • Whether you or anyone else rely on the offender in any way- explain this.
  • Your opinion about the likelihood of the offender committing the driving offence again.
  • If this is the offender’s first driving offence, then express whether you believe the offender’s driving offence is out of character. There is no point in saying that this offence is out of character where the offender has committed previous driving offences.

What Your ‘Referee’ Should Say About the Offence, Offender’s Attitude to the Offence and Insight

  • The writer should express his/her opinions about the offender regarding the offender’s attitude to the driving offence i.e. If the offender has completed a traffic offenders program (TOIP), you can express whether the TOIP course appears to have changed the offender’s views on road safety and reinforced his understanding of the importance of safe driving.
  • Whether the offender has expressed remorse and insight into the driving offence. you can also express whether you believe the offender understands the serious consequences of not complying with the road rules in Australia, and the fact that having a licence is a privilege to safely enjoy, not a right.
  • If the offender already has a previous driving offence, then there is no point saying that the offender’s driving offence is out of character.
  • If this is the offender’s first driving offence, then you may state that this offence is out of character for him/her.
  • If the offender has expressed his/her shame to you for both disclosing the offence, and committing the offence, then you may express this.

This is a guide to good character letters for driving offences. Each letter should be reviewed by an experienced traffic lawyer before handing it to the court.

Everything expressed in each letter should be truthful and accurate.

As a final reminder, each letter should be in the person’s own words.

Tip: If a driving conviction will impact on your job- ensure you gather evidence of the fact a conviction will affect your job, and how it will affect your job. Sometimes, this information is reflected in your employment contract.

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