Speed­ing ticket? Don’t pull a fast one

Our res­i­dent lawyer has a warn­ing — and some en­cour­ag­ing ad­vice — for a driver fac­ing dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion but who needs her car for vi­tal fam­ily du­ties

The Jewish Chronicle - - Features -

IElaine from Stan­more writes: HAVE been a care­ful driver for over 40 years. Un­for­tu­nately, in the past two years I have at­tracted the at­ten­tions of just about ev­ery speed cam­era I drive past. I have racked up three fixed-penalty tick­ets for speed­ing and nine points on my driv­ing li­cence. To my hor­ror, I am in trou­ble again. My hus­band com­plained of chest pains. I phoned the am­bu­lance but they warned of a long de­lay, so I drove him to hospi­tal. It turned out to be heart­burn. I ac­cept I was speed­ing. I have re­ceived a let­ter in­form­ing me I was clocked by a speed cam­era and de­mand­ing that I iden­tify the driver. I un­der­stand that with an ad­di­tional three points I am likely to lose my li­cence. I am ter­ri­fied at the prospect. I am the sole carer for my el­derly and ail­ing hus­band and I drive him to his twice weekly med­i­cal ap­point­ments. I drop off and col­lect my two young grand­sons from their schools each day. What on earth am I go­ing to do? Elaine, if there is one area in which the av­er­age law-abid­ing ci­ti­zen is likely to fall foul of the law, it is this.

The first step is for you to re­ply to the let­ter ask­ing you to iden­tify the driver within the re­quired 28 days. Do not ig­nore it. If you fail to re­spond, you will com­mit a fur­ther of­fence which at­tracts a fur­ther six penalty points and a size­able fine in it­self.

You have told me that you were driv­ing. Do not lie about it. Do not be tempted (as some fool­ish peo­ple are) to in­vent a myth­i­cal driver, or sub­sti­tute some friend in need. I re­cently de­fended an oth­er­wise re­spectable busi­ness­man who did this, and de­spite my best ef­forts, as re­ported in this news­pa­per, he re­ceived three months’ prison. The po­lice now go to amaz­ing lengths to track down and dis­prove such false claims. When de­tected, they are pros­e­cuted as at­tempts to per­vert the course of jus­tice, noth­ing less.

Let us now turn to your real op­tions. Since you al­ready have nine points you will not be given the op­por­tu­nity to ac­cept a fixed-penalty no­tice, and you will re­ceive a sum­mons to at­tend the mag­is­trate’s court near­est to where you were caught speed­ing.

Speed­ing car­ries a min­i­mum three penalty points, so this will bring you to the dreaded 12 points and you will be­come li­able to “tot­ting up”. “Tot­ters” fine you only nom­i­nally. You will then keep your li­cence.

In your case there is an ad­di­tional ar­gu­ment which you (or much bet­ter, a lawyer on your be­half) could em­ploy. Even if the mag­is­trates are not per­suaded that spe­cial rea­sons ex­ist, you can still ar­gue that a driv­ing ban would cause you “ex­cep­tional hard­ship”. The em­pha­sis here is on the word “ex­cep­tional”, be­cause all driv­ing bans cause some hard­ship by their very na­ture, and that is in­deed one of their pur­poses. In your case how­ever, your li­cence is crit­i­cal to the wel­fare of your hus­band (whom you take reg­u­larly to hospi­tal) and to your grand­chil­dren (whom you take to school).

You will need to bring ev­i­dence to sup­port th­ese con­tentions, for ex­am­ple let­ters from your hus­band’s doc­tors, and your grand­chil­dren’s par­ents and/or teach­ers. You must ex­plain why al­ter­na­tive travel ar­range­ments, for ex­am­ple the use of mini­cabs, would be im­prac­ti­cal.

If the mag­is­trates ac­cept that the nor­mal six-month ban would cause you “ex­cep­tional hard­ship”, they may re­duce it to a shorter pe­riod, or with luck, not ban you at all.

I think this last op­tion is prob­a­bly the best way to go. It would take an un­usu­ally hard-hearted bench of mag­is­trates to dis­qual­ify you on th­ese facts. But be warned — this would be your last chance. You can­not ex­pect such le­niency twice.

And let me take this op­por­tu­nity to warn those many read­ers who chat an­i­mat­edly on their hand-held mo­bile phones while driv­ing, that there is now a zero-tol­er­ance pol­icy in op­er­a­tion by po­lice forces across the coun­try. This car­ries an au­to­matic £60 fine plus three penalty points. I know. It just hap­pened to me.

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