How to Write a Drink Driving Character Reference NSW

How to Write a Drink Driving Character Reference NSW: In this “NSW DUI Court Bible” article we explore the benefits of having a well prepared Character Reference when pleading guilty for a drink driving type of offence in New South Wales. We also highlight a lot of the important points to keep in mind when writing or arranging for a Character Reference to be prepared.

How to Write a Drink Driving Character Reference NSW

Preparing a Character Reference for a DUI Case

When a person is charged with a drink driving offence in New South Wales they are generally required to attend Court to front a Magistrate. Any lawyer or legal professional will tell you that even if you are attending Court and pleading guilty on a drink driving matter then you should have a well prepared case put in place to minimise or mitigate the way in which the Court deals with you for your offending behaviour.

When preparing a well thought out case there are many different things you can do to help you when you go to Court, just one of the things that you can do is to obtain a number of carefully set out character references. Basically, a character reference is a letter or statement directed to the Court by a friend, colleague, family member, employer or some other third party or a person who the offender has arranged to put down on paper some good and positive statements to inform about the offenders character.

If, on any given day, you go to a local court in New South Wales you are almost certain to come across a drink driving offender in Court, and just as you are most certain to come across a drink driving matter in Court you are also just as certain to see offenders handing up various character references for the Magistrate to read before sentencing.

In all the drink driving and criminal matters that I have ever been involved with and in all the time that I’ve spent inside a Courtroom I have never seen a negative or unfavourable character reference tended to the Court on  behalf of an offender. Suffice to say that for the average matter that comes before the Court, the Magistrate is generally expecting to see a character reference detailing a number of positive statements about the offender. As a result of this the Magistrate will only give a certain amount of weight in respect of an “average” character reference tendered because at the end of the day they are always going to say positive things about the offender who is before the Court having broken the law.

So this begs the questions is there any point in actually tendering a character reference when the Magistrate expects it to be a positive account of the offender and will subsequently give little weight to this type of evidence?

Importance of a Quality DUI Character Reference

Well the answer to this question is that whilst most character references are relatively basic and do not offer a great deal of evidence in helping reduce or mitigate your penalties, the fact still remains that if you take the time to arrange for a professionally set out DUI character reference to be prepared by a reputable referee making strong positive statements then this will go a long way to helping you in Court. A strong character references should advise the Court of some of the hardship realities that may come from a loss of licence and explain specific instances of how you have previously shown to be a pillar of society. Such a strong character reference can do more than what the average reference will do by better helping the Magistrate take into account how the offender generally acts most of the time in society which will certain be beneficial to the offender when the Magistrate hands down his decision.

The better character references come from people within society who have a good reputation in their own right whether that be through business, political, charitable, social, sporting, academic, professional or other reputable areas within our community. The reality is that a Magistrate will be more impressed and give more weight to a character reference that has been more professionally prepared by a person with a good standing and reputation in their own right. This is simply because when you compare a character reference from such a person who has a reputation to protect compared to “Granny” or “Uncle Joe” then it is easy to see how a Magistrate will be of the mind to think that the there is less bias attached. In other words more weight will be given to a character reference prepared by a person with greater reputation who is putting themselves out to vouch for the offenders usually stirling character.

This is not to say that a character reference from a family member should not be tendered to the Court in certain circumstances. It is generally a good idea to tender a character reference from a family member or a very close friend when they are willing to provide some detail about how you help them out or provide for them in some way which requires you to be mobile and that without a licence the unfortunate reality is that the person making the character reference will suffer from extreme emotional, physical or financial hardship in some way.

The Basics of Preparing a Great Character Reference?

When preparing a character reference it needs to address the Magistrate in a specific manner e.g. “To the Presiding Magistrate”.

It is advisable to tender at least 1 to 3 strong character references however never tender more that 3 unless it is absolutely necessary. At the end of the day, unless there is a special exception, a Magistrate does not want to waste more of the Courts time than he has to in reading long-winded pages of wonderful positive comments about the offender when at the end of they are pleading guilty to breaking the law and doing wrong. Often these positive comments can fly in the face of the reason as to why they are before the Court in the first place.

The person giving the character reference should explain how they have known the offender, how long they have known them, what dealings they have had with them and also mention that the offender has fully disclosed the charges with which they appear before the Court on.

Most importantly the person proving the character reference should be open and honest about the information provided. Magistrates deal with hundreds of similar matters every year and they have a knack of sniffing out a lie or some sort of falsity, whilst they may not raise such suspicions it is always good to tender a very truthful and honest character reference to avoid any such doubts from the Magistrate.

The referee should mention any expertise or qualifications that they have which can sometimes help qualify opinions provided by the referee in the character reference.

The Court will be interested in hearing any other comments or statements that can ultimately show the Court the true value of the offenders character and what the person has done since the offence to ensure that they will not re-offend in a similar way.

How to Prepare a More Professional Character Reference?

In the NSW DUI Court Bible we show exactly how to prepare a strong and professional character reference which can certainly go a long way to helping mitigate an offenders penalties. However, for the purpose of this article we will briefly cover small portion of the important tips about what should be considered when putting together a strong character reference. Some of these points include:

  • Choose a person who is smart, intelligent, has a good reputation in the community and who is willing and able to provide a positive, honest account of who you are, how they have come to know you and their dealings with you in the past that has impressed them the most.
  • Wherever possible have the character reference printed on a business or organisation letterhead – this look more professional and it means that the person giving the reference is willing to back their name and contents of the reference up behind the business, brand or organisation that they represent. This is a major sign of professionalism when it comes to presenting a strong character reference.
  • It may or may not go without saying but all character references tendered to the Court should be typed and originally signatures of the referee should be present on the copy of the reference handed up to the Magistrate in Court.
  • A good reference should no waft on with unnecessary information – the reference should be to the point and concise, generally 1-2 pages. Any more than this unless absolutely necessary and some Magistrate can get frustrated.
  • Make sure that the person giving the reference includes their full name, address and contact number. I have never seen a Magistrate call upon a referee but at the end of the day these personal contact details show that the referee is making themselves available to speak with anyone at the Court to confirm or back up the statements made in the character reference.
  • The personal giving the character reference should never make wild outlandish comments or statements that they are not qualified to make. For example, an employee should never make statements about expert medical evidence and provide details that should be reserved for a medical professional. Commenting on a certain medical issue and how that person has seen how it has affected the offender may be ok but the referee should never cross they line and hold themselves out to be an expert in something that they are not qualified for.
  • The offender should know exactly what is said in the character reference tendered to the Court because the Magistrate can often quiz the offender about specific statements which have been made in the reference, therefore it is prudent to have your own copy of the character reference with you when you go to Court.

There are many other tips and tricks as to how put together a strong professional looking and reading character reference which we discuss in further detail in the NSW DUI Court Bible.

The Character Reference Wrap Up

At the end of the day the reason for tendering a character reference is to show the Court a different side of the offender which would otherwise be unseen to the Court. It enables the Court to see how you have contributed to other peoples lives or the community or in some way where the offender has taken positive actions to show that they are a person who has made a mistake on this occasion but overall have proven themselves to be a person who has a track record of being a good, positive and law abiding person.

In addition a well thought out character reference can provide to the Court an understanding of an adverse issues that the offender has been going through in order to provide an explanation as to why the offender may have acted in a manner which is generally out of character to their usual behaviour.

A strong character reference which has been well prepared and written by the right person can really speak volumes about the true character of the offender and can certainly go a long way to mitigating or minimising the penalties that the Court hands down to you.

To really see how to prepare a proper professional character reference which will really go a long way to reducing your penalties and resonating with the Court then you should check out the NSW DUI Court Bible which takes you through the entire process of preparing a well thought out case to present to the Court.


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