Motoring offences

Common motoring offences and their enforcement

For personal advice on any matter relating to vehicle use, motoring offences, accidents or disputes with suppliers/garages we recommend contacting your local Citizen's Advice Bureau

For personal advice on any matter relating to vehicle use, motoring offences, accidents or disputes with suppliers/garages we recommend contacting your local Citizen's Advice Bureau

If you are being prosecuted for an alleged motoring offence and are in any doubt as to what you should do we recommend that you seek legal advice.

If you receive a notice of intended prosecution through the post, you could also receive a notice asking you to identify the driver.

Unless you have a reasonable excuse, failure to supply the information would make you liable to a penalty similar to the alleged offence itself, i.e. a fine and penalty points.

It is now common for speeding prosecutions to be based on photographic evidence from fixed, mobile or average speed cameras.

First step

For most motoring offences you shall not be prosecuted unless:

  • you have been warned at the time by a police officer, or
  • you have been charged or served with a summons within 14 days, or
  • a notice of intended prosecution has been sent to you or to the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days

Exceptions to the above include alleged offence relating to a road traffic accident where no notice of intended prosecution is required.

It's also the case that many parking offences do not require a notice of intended prosecution as they are dealt with under the Penalty Charge Notice system.

Minor offences

If you receive any sort of 'ticket' – FPN, PCN, Notice of Intended Prosecution - concerning a motoring offence you should deal with it quickly.

Delay could mean an increase in the penalty may mean that you lose any opportunity you migh have had to appeal against the alleged offence.

Serious offences

More serious motoring offences are generally dealt with in the Magistrates Court in England and Wales or the Sheriff Court in Scotland.

Once a summons is issued you have two options:

  • Plead guilty - If the Court is considering a ban (this will depend on the offence or how many penalty points you already have) you will need to attend the Court, otherwise you can plead guilty either by post or in person.
  • Plead not guilty - Seek legal advice if you plan to take this option.

How is the amount of fine and points decided?

Once you get into the court system it is impossible to state exactly what penalty a court may impose for a given offence, though a specialist legal advisor may be able to give some general indication.

It is rare for the maximum penalty to be imposed.

The court will take account of the seriousness of the offence, any mitigating circumstances, previous convictions and your means.

You can be asked for your financial details and may have to complete a means enquiry form.

Having assessed the offence, a Magistrates Court in England or Wales can lower or raise the fine, if felt appropriate, given your means.

In Scotland, the court will take into account the seriousness of the offence and may consider a defendant's means if there is an application for time to pay.

Tell your insurer

You must notify your motor insurance company of any convictions (though some companies may not wish to know about 'parking tickets').

If in doubt, err on the side of caution and notify them in writing immediately. If they are not told, they could refuse to deal with any claims.

(2 July 2012)