When points don't make prizes...

The most unwelcome points we can receive are penalty points endorsed on a driving licence. The points are usually accompanied by a fine and costs.
While the fine may be forgotten, the points remain on a licence for three years.  The consequence of a momentary lapse of concentration can therefore stay with us for years to come.
Accumulating 12 points on a licence requires the court to disqualify the driver for a period of six months. Undoubtedly this would be inconvenient and cause hardship. If you needed to drive for a living, the loss of your licence for any period could cost you your job.
It is not just when points are accumulated on a licence that a disqualification can occur. There are many circumstances in which the courts have discretion to disqualify.
The more serious the traffic offence the more likely disqualification will be considered. Traveling at excessive speeds (for example at a 100mph or over on a motorway or at 30mph over the stated speed limit) will usually require the court to consider if a disqualification is appropriate.
The appearance of more and more speed cameras means that it is likely that many of us will be caught travelling over the speed limit and accumulating points as a result.
In built up areas the speed limit is 30mph. There is no need for there to be 30mph signs. The general rule is that if there are street lights then, in the absence of any other markings, a limit of 30mph applies. Signs showing the unrestricted speed limit will require drivers to drive at a speed of 60mph except if one is travelling on a dual carriageway or motorway where the limit is 70mph.
Speeding carries between three and six penalty points and exceeding the speed limit by only a small margin will normally only resolve in three points being imposed.  The greater the speed the more likely that six points will be imposed.
Recently there has been much publicity surrounding the enforceability of notices sent to a vehicle’s registered owner requiring the owner to identify the driver of the vehicle caught on a speed camera.
It was argued that as English law did not require people to incriminate themselves, it was not illegal for them to refuse to supply such details.
A case was taken to the European Courts. It was decided that as there were Statutory Requirements for the disclosure of the identity of a driver, even though such disclosure might result in their own prosecution, it was not an infringement of their human rights. Accordingly it is the responsibility of the registered owner to supply details of a driver on request.
If there is any doubt about the identity of the driver, it is wise to obtain a copy of the photographic evidence. A decision to ignore requests for a driver’s identity will not result in the matter going away.  An offence will be committed if the details are not supplied without reasonable cause.

by Andrew Hill of Hellewell, Pasley and Brewer

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