Rogue Red Traffic Light Camera Strikes Again

Rogue Red Traffic Light Camera Strikes Again

Five red light camera offences dropped

Five alleged red light offences from a camera in Nottingham have now been halted as a result of wrong information being recorded on the Notice of Intended Prosecution.

The camera in question, located near Colwick in Nottingham, appears to have a life of its own. So far, it has recorded incorrect times on several notices suggesting that vehicles were in places that they could not possibly have been at the time of the alleged offences.

Fortunately, the recipients of those notices recognised that the information could not possibly be correct and sought legal advice from us.

In all cases, the police decided to take no further action.

But how many other people have been caught by this camera and have received penalty points for an offence they did not commit?

Red Traffic Light Offence Requirements

In these cases, a Notice of Intended Prosecution must be sent to the registered keeper or driver so that it is received within 14 days of the offence. There are exceptions to this which include:

  • if the driver was stopped at the time, or,
  • if there was an accident.

Along with the Notice, there is usually a request for driver details. S.172 Road Traffic Act 1988 requires any person who receives a request to provide the information they have in their power which could lead to the identification of the driver. Failure to comply with the request typically results in 6 penalty points but may result in a discretionary ban.

But what if you don’t think the vehicle was there?

Unless you have clear evidence that it was elsewhere, this can put you in a difficult position. On some of the five cases we have dealt with, the driver could provide evidence from a vehicle tracker and/or tachograph data to show that the vehicle was stationary or not at the location suggested. To their credit, upon receipt of this evidence, the police promptly dropped the cases.

If like most of us, you don’t have the benefit of a tracker fitted to your vehicle, it can be more difficult to challenge. Or, you may not even recall where you were at the time on the notice, so will assume that the details are correct.

Notices of Intended Prosecution are official documents which are there to warn of the intention to prosecute you of an offence. It follows that they should be fundamentally correct and if they aren’t, it may be a bar to prosecution.

It’s a Notice from the police so it must be right surely?

Well no, the police and their systems are not infallible.

The Notices are sent on behalf of the police, so people quite correctly take them seriously. If you receive a Notice, you may assume the contents have been verified and are correct. Therefore if you are the registered keeper and you receive a Notice, you may well identify yourself as the driver without giving much thought to whether you were at that location at the time given.

Have you received points for an offence you didn’t commit?

Of course, we don’t know how many people have been wrongly convicted. Are you one of those people who has accepted a fixed penalty or received a Single Justice Procedure Notice as a result of a red traffic light?

It’s highly likely that at some point, someone will be banned from driving as a result of this camera. This could be because of totting up points, or because the notice states that the vehicle passed the lights several seconds after it changed to red. One of our cases suggested the vehicle passed the traffic light more than 29 seconds after it changed to red. If this had reached court and gone unchallenged, the driver would have been at serious risk of a discretionary ban.

Some drivers may have been banned for six months as a result of totting up.

Get in touch if you think you have been erroneously ‘caught’ by a red light camera and would like some advice.

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The 14 Day Time Limit for Notices of Intended Prosecution – Loophole or Defence?

The 14 Day Time Limit for Notices of Intended Prosecution – Loophole or Defence?

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THE 14 DAY TIME LIMIT FOR NOTICES OF INTENDED PROSECUTION – LOOPHOLE OR GENUINE DEFENCE?

Back in 2018, David Beckham was reported as having relied on this ‘loophole’ to avoid a speeding conviction.

Whenever there is a report of someone in the public eye escaping a driving conviction, it frequently elicits a tirade of comments from readers.

Such comments often suggest that the individual only avoided conviction because of who they are and that such ‘loopholes’ are only available to the rich and famous, but that is not always the case.

The so-called 14 day Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) Rule was used by countless motorists in 2019 to avoid a conviction for speedingcareless driving, running a red light, and many others.

WHAT IS THE 14 DAY NIP RULE?

The law is contained in Section 1 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988A summary is that:

Certain driving offences require a warning of possible prosecution to be served on either:

  • The driver at the time of the offence, or
  • The driver or registered keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence,

Important:
The requirement to warn of prosecution does not apply if there was an accident.
The requirement does not apply to all driving offences. For example, it does not apply to offences of using a mobile phone while driving. The full list of offences is contained in Schedule 1 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988

Otherwise, for many driving offences the driver is usually stopped at the roadside and warned verbally by the police, or, they receive the NIP through the post.

The consequence of not complying with the NIP requirement is that there cannot be a conviction for the offences to which it applies. Eg, if the NIP was sent to warn of prosecution for speeding, but the requirements were not met, there can be no speeding conviction.

THE RULE IN PRACTICE

In criminal cases, the burden is usually on the prosecution to satisfy the court of a fact ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ or to put it another way, so that ‘the court is sure’.

However, in these cases, there is a ‘presumption of conformity’ with the NIP service requirement.

This means that the prosecution doesn’t have to give any evidence that its requirements have been fulfilled. It is for the defence to allege that they have not, and to call evidence to that effect. The burden of proof is on the defendant on the balance of probabilities ie. more likely than not. The defence must show that the driver and the registered “keeper” of the vehicle have not had the notice.

NON-CONFORMITY

When the defence of non-conformity is raised, they tend to fall into two categories:

  1. Cases where the NIP has been served late;
  2. Cases where the NIP has not been received at all.

Late service can often be easier to prove than non-receipt. If the postal date suggests that the 14-day rule has not been complied with, the task of proving non-conformity is relatively easy. But where the notice is not received at all, the only way to prove this may be to give evidence in court. It is then up to the court to decide whether they believe you or not.

With cases of late service, bear in mind that notices are not deemed served until two working days after the offence. Also, note that the date of the alleged offence is not counted in the calculations.

REQUESTS FOR DRIVER INFORMATION

This is where it gets a bit technical. These requests for driver information should not be confused with Notices of Intended Prosecution. They are often combined in the same document as a NIP, but they have different legal status. There is no requirement to request driver details within 14 days.

The power to request driver details is contained in s.172 Road Traffic Act 1988 and for this reason, they are often referred to as s.172 notices. If you do not comply with s.172 and give the information, you could be prosecuted for failing to provide driver details which usually carries 6 penalty points plus a fine.

What this means is that if you receive a combined NIP/ s.172 notice which has been served late, you should still give the details of the driver. You can then argue that there can be no prosecution for the offence to which the notice relates but avoid the risk of prosecution for failing to give details.

Of course, if you don’t receive the NIP you will not have received the s.172 Notice either. Therefore you should not be convicted of failing to give driver details as you have not received a request to do so.

DEFENCE OR LOOPHOLE?

Everyone will have their view on this. The term ‘loophole’ suggests something slightly dodgy or morally wrong which may not be representative of the facts.

The law requires us to abide by the rules and provide information within certain time limits. If we do not, we will normally be prosecuted.

By the same token, the police must abide by their own rules and time limits. If not, the driver will have a legitimate defence. Why should a driver be criticised for relying on a defence set out in law?

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