Frequently Asked Questions  
Q

SPEEDING DEFENCES 1. Is inadequate posting of a speed limit a valid defence to a speeding NIP?

A

According to case law, yes.

In Coombes v DPP [2006] EWHC 3263 (Admin), (2006) The Times, 29 December, a driver's conviction for speeding, contrary to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s. 89, was quashed by the Divisional Court (following an unsuccessful appeal to the Crown Court) because the road sign imposing the 30-mph limit in question was obscured by overgrown hedgerows, so that it became visible to motorists only at the point where it was passed.

Referring to the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s. 85 (below), Walker J held that this imposed (at the least) a requirement that, at the geographical point where the motorist exceeded the limit, the signs could reasonably have been expected to have conveyed the limit to an approaching motorist in sufficient time for him to reduce from a previous lawful speed to a speed within the new limit. Motorists should not be convicted of speeding in the absence of adequate guidance.

(Case described in more detail below.)

The Association of British Drivers offers a downloadable kit to help drivers contest unfair speeding convictions www.abd.org.uk

Motoring Law website Road Law (www.road-law.co.uk) is advising motorists to check their situation if they have apparently been caught speeding in a temporary speed limit in roadworks.

"There are specific legal requirements with regard to the signs that must be displayed advising motorists of the correct speed limit on any road, and this applies just as much to temporary speed limits where roadworks are being undertaken, as it does to any other stretch of road," explains former solicitor Martin Davies, who runs the Road Law website. "If the speed limit signs are insufficient or incorrectly placed then the police are not in a position to prosecute drivers for breaking the speed limit."

The situation has been highlighted by lengthy roadworks on the A303 in Wiltshire starting back in May 2003, which led to several thousand motorists being caught for breaking the temporary speed limit. However one motorist was so incensed by the lack of signs that as soon as she received her NIP she returned to the roadworks and took photographs to prove that she could not have known of the change in the speed limit. Her case was dismissed and led to the Wiltshire & Swindon Safety Camera Partnership issuing a statement (see below) in February 2005.

The statement has several repercussions :-

Any driver who has already been prosecuted for speeding on the A303 at Folly Bottom over the past 2 years can apply to have their conviction quashed, the points taken off their licence, their fine repaid and make a claim for compensation for any losses they have suffered as a result of the wrongful conviction (eg increased insurance premium). This is automatic for those already convicted of offences on the A303 at Folly Bottom between October 2003 and 13 January 2004

Other drivers who have been caught in the area and who cannot recall having seen clear speed restriction signs are now also having their cases reviewed. These matters have been adjourned until 30 June 2005, but the CPS are expected to make a decision and statement about these cases before this date.

Road Law is aware of a similar situation on the A63 at Welton in Yorkshire, which has led to cases being discontinued.

The advice from Road Law for motorists who have been caught on these two specific roads (the A303 and the A63) is to contact Road Law for specific advice on their situation, and for any motorist who has been caught speeding in roadworks to check if there were actually speed limit signs on the stretch of road on which they were driving. The actual regulations are quite complex, but in general signs should appear at the beginning of the speed limit and then at regular intervals within the speed limit. If there is any doubt then they should take legal advice before accepting any charge.

Road Law has a panel of specialist motoring solicitors that advise on matters throughout England & Wales and operate a unique fixed fee telephone advice and legal representation system. Full details can be found on the website at www.road-law.co.uk.


Wiltshire & Swindon Safety Camera Partnership Statement (18 February 2005)

A303 Folly Bottom

After careful consideration of all the available evidence, including detailed reports prepared by expert witnesses for both defence and prosecution, the Crown Prosecution Service has decided to withdraw speeding prosecutions relating to the A303 at Folly Bottom.

In the cases which were listed for a pre-trial review hearing at Salisbury Magistrates Courts on 17 February 2005; the prosecution offered no evidence and those cases were dismissed. (The Police and CPS are now carrying out a review of any remaining pending cases).

Evidence supplied by the defence raised the possibility that the defendants could have been confused by the signage. There was insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that at all times the speed restriction signs were positioned correctly, in accordance with the legal requirements. The CPS therefore concluded that there was not a realistic prospect of conviction.

From May 2003, the A303 trunk road at Folly Bottom near Amesbury, Wiltshire was the subject of extensive road works over a period of many months. On 10 May 2003 a Road Traffic Order under the provisions of section 14(1)(a) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 came into force to impose a temporary speed restriction of 40 mph through the area of the road works. This was for the purposes of road safety, and health and safety for the road works staff.

The nature of these extensive road works required that the restriction signs be moved to correspond with the daily works.

To protect road users and staff at the site, the Wiltshire Constabulary Safety Camera Unit carried out periodic speed enforcement checks, which resulted in court prosecutions. These cases were sent to the Crown Prosecution Service for review and prosecution.

Although there was clear evidence of careful checks of the signage having been carried out by the enforcing police officers prior to conducting speed checks, the defence expert’s report highlighted that there was insufficient evidence to prove a consistently high standard of checks to ensure that the signage met legal requirements at all times.

19 May 2005
Release Ends.

For more information visit the website www.road-law.co.uk or contact Martin Davies at LAW on the WEB martin.davies@lawontheweb.co.uk t&f - 01243 535377


Road Law (www.road-law.co.uk) is a microsite within the LAW on the WEB legal information and advice website. It was first published in July 2002 and provides a range of legal advice, information and guidance to motorists, including a Road Reckoner service (www.roadreckoner.co.uk); fixed fee legal advice and representation from a panel of specialist motoring solicitors; and a specialist telephone advice service.

2. LAW on the WEB (www.lawontheweb.co.uk) was established in February 1999 by Martin Davies, a solicitor, formerly in private practice. On site it provides free legal information, advice and guidance to the general public on their rights and the law, covering basic legal issues including employment, family, wills, motoring, property and accidents, as well as providing a free email legal question service. It is also a gateway to other legal information and services, with an extensive directory of solicitors, links to legal document producers and other useful legal sites, and even a legal fun section.

3. LAW on the WEB now has a readership of more than 80,000 readers every month.

Also worth a look: www.derbygripe.co.uk/defence.htm

 

3-8-2010. In July 2010, Yetkin v Mahmood and Another reaffirmed the responsibility of councils to keep foliage clear of roadsigns and sight lines. In this case a pedestrian was knocked down because the car driver had not seen him due to overgrown shrubs.

 

Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2006 17:01:31 Hedge helps man beat speed fine


A motorist has won a High Court battle to overturn a speeding fine after arguing he could not see the roadside warning signpost.

Coombes vs Director of Public Prosecutions Dec 20th 2006.

John Coombes, from Wells, Somerset, was fined for speeding in a 30mph zone near the city in 2005.

He argued that an overgrown hedge meant he could not see a signpost warning of the restriction.

His conviction was quashed by two senior High Court judges in London on Wednesday.

This judgment has confirmed what many motorists have always felt

They ruled that, because of an obscured sign, he had not had sufficient warning that he was passing from a 40mph zone into a 30 mph stretch.

Mr Coombes' solicitor, Jeffrey Bannister, said: "This judgment has confirmed what many motorists have always felt. "Namely that they should not be convicted if trees and hedges overhanging or obscuring signs mean they cannot properly see the signs, and they are not given adequate notice of changes in the speed limit."

Mr Coombes was caught in a police speed trap on the B3139 Bath Road at Horrington near Wells last July.

He was convicted of speeding by Mendip magistrates in January 2006 and fined £250 and ordered to pay £150 legal costs.

At Bristol Crown Court, both conviction and fine were upheld in April 2006, and he was ordered to pay an extra £229 legal costs.

The High Court said his legal costs should be reimbursed out of public funds.

Obiter Dictum: " For a driver to be convicted of speeding it was a requirement
that the relevant road signs could reasonably be expected to indicate the limit to an approaching driver in sufficient time for him to reduce from a previous lawful speed to a speed within the new limit. "


A5 30 limit speeding convictions revoked

May 4 2007 Chester Chronicle

THE research of a Chester-based solicitor has helped to clear 3,000 motorists who have been fined and given points for speeding in North Wales.

They were all trapped by an Arrive Alive camera van on the A5 in Bangor, which angered locals so much public protest meetings were held.

The limit had been reduced last summer from 40mph to 30mph - but now it has been announced there had been a blunder, with Gwynedd County Council being blamed.

The Arrive Alive scheme caught 80,000 drivers in North Wales last year.
Solicitor Ray Woodward discovered a Road Traffic Order made in 1981 for a 40mph limit had never been revoked.

Mr Woodward represented three clients, all driving at less than 40mph, who had pleaded not guilty to speeding and whose cases were formally dismissed by magistrates in Caernarfon this week.

Dozens of other motorists have also denied speeding and have been waiting for the result of this case before deciding what to do next.

In a statement, the CPS said it had written to 38 people who faced speeding charges this week 'informing them that the proceedings against them are to be dropped'.

Solicitor Gerallt Evans said: 'We have advised North Wales Police that this decision applies to all other persons who have been convicted of excess speed offences at this particular location since July 26. The police will now be making arrangements for those convictions to be cancelled.'

Incorrect positioning of speed and Gatso warning signs makes fines and points illegal

In a case heard at Portsmouth Magistrates Court during w/c 15-10-2007, District Judge Gillibrand ruled that errors in the way speed and Gatso warning signs were positioned and too few of them meant that the 40mph limit on the A27 in Fareham had no backing in law. 250,000 £60 tickets to be refunded and points removed for 3 years prior to the judgement.


Speeding Ticket Defences Check List From Safe Speed

Motorist's Prosecution Checklist:

* The speed limit must be correctly signed in
accordance with the regulations (Folly Bottom,
Wylye, North Wales, Cleveland, Starcross and others)

* A speed limit order must apply correctly to the
location in question. (Lincolnshire, London, North Wales and others)

* The paperwork must be correct and in accordance
with all laws and regulations. (Dorset, Cleveland)

* The paperwork must be delivered on time

* The Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) cannot
be served by second class post. (South Wales)

* Papers to issue a summons must be laid within 6
months of the date of alleged offence.

* The equipment must be calibrated correctly.

* The operator must use the equipment in accordance with rules and
guidelines.

* The operator must form a prior opinion of speed in excess of a
speed limit.

* Arguably only a Police constable is qualified
to form a prior opinion of speed in excess of a posted speed limit.

* Communications equipment must be switched off
while measurements of speed are taken (including the operator's
mobile phone).

* The site must be suitable (restrictions include near power lines)

* The equipment must be working properly.

* Evidence must be disclosed to the defence 7
days before the trial on request or it becomes inadmissible.

* If you don't know who the driver was at the
time of the alleged offence you may well have a
statutory defence in RTOA1988 S172(4) as amended

* The court must be impartial (And since the
Magistrate's Court Service are usually a camera
partnership member it is far from clear that the
court has the required degree of impartiality.)

* The process must not breach your Human Rights

* In the case of Gatso fixed speed cameras the
transit of the calibration marks in the two
photographs must match the speed recorded by the radar speed meter.

* The prosecution must turn up in court with the correct paperwork.

* Witness statements cannot be signed by machine. (North Wales)

* The LTI20.20 (common laser speed meter used in
virtually all mobile speed camera vans) is
subject to various operating anomalies, notably 'slip effect'.

A failure in any of these areas will usually be fatal to a
prosecution case.

New Mandatory Sentencing Guidelines

"On 4th August 2008 new mandatory sentencing guidelines come into force in magistrates courts in England and Wales. These will apply to all offences sentenced on or after this date and magistrates, unlike previously, have a statutory duty to have regard to the guidelines. The level of fines relate directly to nett weekly income (gross income less tax and national insurance) and where no income is disclosed, average weekly earnings of £350 will now be assumed. As a consequence, a motorist with a nett weekly income of say £500 appearing in court for driving at 41 mph in a 30 mph zone can expect a fine in the range £375 - £625 (75 - 125% of nett weekly income up to a maximum of £5000), with £500 being the usual starting point, plus either 4-6 penalty points or 7-28 days disqualification. For a defective tyre, the guideline fine is also 75-125% of nett weekly income, up to a maximum of £2500 plus 3 penalty points . This is for each defective tyre. For using a mobile phone whilst driving, the fine is 25-75% of nett weekly income which typically will equate to £175 for our 'average earner' +3 points. In all cases, the fine may be reduced by up to a third for a 'timely' guilty plea and a victim surcharge (£15) + costs will also be payable. Police will of course continue to have the option where appropriate of issuing fixed penalty notices which take no account of income. Whilst not in any way condoning motoring or any other offence, the new sentencing regime will undoubtedly see much higher fines being imposed by the courts." A JP, Sussex


Caught Speeding?
www.motoringlawyers.com Expert team of solicitors fight for your driving licence

Freeman Keep On Driving:
www.freemankeepondriving.com Swift legal assistance with driving offences

Speeding? we can help you
www.motoringmatters.com Facing a speeding summon? talk to the experts now for legal advice

Caught Speeding Again?
www.KeepUMoving.co.uk/Speeding Keep Moving With Speeding Insurance Even if You Loose Your License.

Speeding Offence Solicitor:
www.geoffreymillersolicitors.co.uk Leading Speeding Offence Solicitors Defending Drivers Nationwide

Speeding Offence Solicitor:
John Josephs, Partner
Turner Coulston, Solicitors
29 Billing Road,
Northampton
NN1 5DQ
Email: john@turner-coulston.co.uk
Website: www.tclaw.co.uk

Barrister
michael@mshrimpton.co.uk

Motoring Offences Specialist Solicitors:
Stephensons Solicitors LLP
Wigan Investment Centre, Waterside Drive, Wigan WN3 5BA
Direct Dial: 01942 774179
Direct Fax: 01942 774525
Email: jrn@stephensons.co.uk
Web: www.stephensons.co.uk

Speeding Ticket:
www.JusticeForEveryone.co.uk Are You a Mug? Then why do you pay Speeding Tickets?

Speeding Ticket?
www.trafficlawyer4u.com It can be challenged Protect your licence. Contact us

Any Traffic Offences
www.trafficlawyers.co.uk, www.roadsidelawyer.co.uk


Contesting Fixed Penalty 'Offences'
www.PePiPoo.com

Help over Road Traffic Offences in Scotland

Michael Lyon Solicitors
w: www.theroadtrafficlawyer.com
e: ml@theroadtrafficlawyer .com
o: 9/1, 3 Templeton Court, Glasgow G40 1EF
t: 0141-550-1074

Non Profit Making Getting and Keeping a Driving Licence Advice Sites

www.yourdrivinglicence.co.uk

and www.nopenaltypoints.co.uk/home.htm


New Income Based Penalties From August 2008

www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk

PDF Guide to Fixed Penalties and Court Penalties from August 2008

www.sentencing-guidelines.gov.uk/docs/magistrates_court_sentencing_guidelines_update.pdf

Speed Camera Locations with Accident Stats for Each:

www.saferroads.org


A little publicised change to the way motoring cases are dealt with
in court shows that the government wants to put more pressure on
drivers to meekly pay up, by denying them free legal advice from the
Duty Solicitor and making it difficult to request adjournments while
a defence is prepared. The following information has been received
from ABD members Hewitts Solicitors:

DON'T DELAY IN OBTAINING LEGAL ADVICE

Unfortunately in the current climate of the police targeting drivers
as an easy option to improve crime figures, an ever increasing number
of motorists are coming before the Courts. There have been recent
changes that will have a major impact on all Magistrates Court
hearings and particularly when an individual wishes to seek an
adjournment of his case.

As long ago as 2004 the Government changed the rules as to who could
be represented by the Duty Solicitor at Court. The Duty Solicitor is
a free service provided by courts to provide advice and
representation to individuals who do not have their own solicitor.
The Duty Solicitor is now no longer able to represent individuals who
face non-imprisonable offences (which most motoring offences are)
unless that individual is in custody. This was introduced by the
Government as a means of reducing the amount of money spent on
criminal legal aid. As a result, those facing road traffic offences
before a Magistrates Court are precluded from obtaining the free
services of the duty solicitor.

The Government has now introduced a scheme to accelerate Court
proceedings, which is known as "Simple Speedy Summary Justice". The
goal is to have the majority of cases concluded at the very first
hearing. This means that the court will expect an individual to state
whether he is guilty or not guilty at the first hearing. In order to
facilitate this, the Crown Prosecution Service is now required to
provide advance information such as witness statements to a Defendant
as early as possible.

The likely impact of these radical changes is that motorists
appearing on their first appearance will struggle to be granted an
adjournment of their case by the court in order to seek legal advice.
This is likely to lead to two potential problems:

1. Motorists will feel pressured into entering guilty pleas at the
first hearing without the benefit of legal advice that may give light
to a defence;
or
2. Motorists will have no option but to enter not guilty pleas as
the only way to secure an adjournment. This could lead to a loss of
credit on sentence if ultimately (following legal advice) the plea
becomes one of guilty.

It is therefore essential for motorists facing prosecutions who wish
to obtain legal advice to do so as soon as possible after they become
aware they may face a prosecution, in order to avoid the possibility
of injustice arising in their case.

the publication "Traffic www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roads/tss/tsmanual/tsmchapter3.pdf Signs Manual, Chapter 3" gives detailed guidance to local authorities on signing of regulatory signs, and may be found at the DfT website. In particular, the introduction to Section 14 (Speed Limits) is reproduced below. If any reader considers that he or she has been prosecuted in situations where the guidance in the Manual has not been followed, they should challenge the legitimacy of the signage.

"14.1 Traffic authorities have a duty under section 85 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to erect and maintain prescribed speed limit signs on their roads in accordance with the Secretary of State's directions; i.e. the signs must be prescribed by and provided in accordance with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 unless they have been specially authorised. Signs that do not strictly follow the Regulations and the Directions (see para 1.4 in respect of Northern Ireland), or have not been specially authorised are not lawfully placed and the speed limit might be unenforceable. To avoid the risk of failed prosecutions, it is of the greatest importance that speed limits be signed lawfully. It is equally important that speed limits be signed clearly and in accordance with this guidance, so that at no time will drivers be in any doubt about the prevailing limit."

22-6-2009:

There have been developments regarding the Chideock speed camera. Apparently
it has been agreed that all fines between 1997 and 2007 will be refunded. There are more details on their web site at
www.dorsetsafetycameras.org.uk/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1 .

Chideock Press Release - 19th June 2009

Technicality in the Traffic Regulation Order Relating to the A35 in Chideock, West Dorset

This announcement follows the case of Regina v Dawe and the Crown Court judgment that the Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) relating to the village of Chideock in West Dorset was defective due to a historical clerical error in the street name in the TRO.

The Dorset Safety Camera Partnership (DSCP) can confirm that it has secured agreement regarding dealing with speeding offences detected by the safety camera monitoring westbound traffic on the A35 in Chideock prior to 2007.

Each case will be reviewed individually and may result in motorists detected travelling over 30mph on the westbound safety camera in Chideock, prior to 2007, having the fixed penalty payment from this offence refunded and the related penalty points removed from their driving licence, if still valid.

Adrian Whiting, Assistant Chief Constable for Dorset Police and the Chair of the Dorset Strategic Road Safety Partnership, comments:

"Chideock is a small rural community with a main road running through the middle of the village and we are reassured that no one has tried to suggest that the speed limit should be anything other than 30mph.

"During the period this safety camera has been in operation it will have reduced drivers’ speeds through the village by acting as a deterrent, which will have helped to safeguard the safety of the people who live in Chideock and other road users. The public should be reassured by the fact that a new TRO is in place and the DSCP has recommenced enforcement there."

The DSCP will be writing to all drivers affected, to inform them of the situation and outline the process to follow if they wish to have their fixed penalty refunded and the related penalty points removed from their driving licence if still valid. Details of the process to follow if drivers think their offence is affected are available on the DSCP website – www.dorsetsafetycameras.org.uk

The Dorset Safety Camera Partnership remains focused on working together to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on Dorset’s roads as a consequence of both excess and inappropriate speed.

Background information on the issues relating to the A35 westbound in Chideock and the Crown Court case of Regina v Dawe:

1. In 1997 a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) relating to the village of Chideock, West Dorset was arranged. The order defined a length of the A35 westbound as subject to a 30mph speed limit. This was necessary as that stretch of road does not have a system of street lighting.

2. The text of the order referred to the A35 junction with "Seatown Road". This was a mistake as the road was then, and still is, correctly named "Duck Street".

3. At approximately 23:15hrs on the 27th October 2005 Mr Dawe was detected speeding by a fixed safety camera, travelling west in the village of Chideock. He was travelling at 41mph in a lorry, passing the houses where the safety camera is located and approaching the village Pubs. He has never disputed this speed, nor suggested it was sensible to drive that fast in the built-up area of the village.

4. He appealed his conviction on the grounds that the 30mph speed limit signs were not of the proper form. On the 26th October 2007 the Crown Court sitting at Dorchester found that the TRO was defective due to the road name issue, and thus the 30mph speed limit could not be enforced at that point on the A35 westbound. Accordingly the Court did not need to assess Mr Dawe’s actual grounds for appeal, and no finding on them was made.

5. Following the Crown Court judgement the organisations which make up the Dorset Safety Camera Partnership have been working with the appropriate Government departments to determine whether this judgement applies to other cases and agree an appropriate process for dealing with these offences.

The Dorset Safety Camera Partnership

The Dorset Safety Camera Partnership, which was set up in August 2002, constitutes a partnership between Dorset County Council, Borough of Poole Council, Bournemouth Borough Council, Dorset Police, NHS South West, Highways Agency, Her Majesty’s Courts Service and the Crown Prosecution Service. The Partnership, through a combination of measures including education, engineering and enforcement, is working together to reduce the number of people who are killed or seriously injured on Dorset’s roads, as a consequence of both excess and inappropriate speed. It is responsible for the operation and maintenance of fixed site, mobile and red-light junction cameras throughout Dorset.


13-11-2009:

Motorist's Prosecution Checklist:

* The speed limit must be correctly signed in
accordance with the regulations (Folly Bottom,
Wylye, North Wales, Cleveland, Starcross and others)

* A speed limit order must apply correctly to the
location in question. (Lincolnshire, London, North Wales and others)

* The paperwork must be correct and in accordance
with all laws and regulations. (Dorset, Cleveland)

* The paperwork must be delivered on time (very recent case, Nov 2009 Idris)

(* The record showing the date the NIP was posted
MUST have been completed at the time, not
retrospectively - as Hants SRP routinely did for years Idris)

* The Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) cannot
be served by second class post. (South Wales)

* Papers to issue a summons must be laid within 6
months of the date of alleged offence.

* The equipment must be calibrated correctly.

* The operator must use the equipment in accordance with rules and guidelines.

* The operator must form a prior opinion of speed in excess of a speed limit.

* Arguably only a Police constable is qualified
to form a prior opinion of speed in excess of a posted speed limit.

* Communications equipment must be switched off
while measurements of speed are taken (including the operator's mobile phone).

* The site must be suitable (restrictions include near power lines)

* The equipment must be working properly.

* Evidence must be disclosed to the defence at
least 7 days before the trial on request or it becomes inadmissible.

* If you don't know who the driver was at the
time of the alleged offence you may well have a
statutory defence in RTOA1988 S172(4) as amended

"(4) A person shall not be guilty of an offence
by virtue of paragraph (a) of subsection (2)
above if he shows that he did not know and could
not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver was."

* A corporate keeper is required to provide only
what information it is in his power to provide (Idris)

* A corporate keeper (ef Company Secretary)
cannot be given penalty points - some solicitors
advise drivers to register their cars in the name of a company (Idris).

* The court must be impartial (And since the
Magistrate's Court Service are usually a camera
partnership member it is far from clear that the
court has the required degree of impartiality.)

* In the case of Gatso fixed speed cameras the
transit of the calibration marks in the two
photographs must match the speed recorded by the radar speed meter.

* The prosecution must turn up in court with the correct paperwork.

* Witness statements cannot be signed by machine. (North Wales)

* The LTI20.20 (common laser speed meter used in
virtually all mobile speed camera vans) is
subject to various operating anomalies, notably 'slip effect'.

A failure in any of these areas will usually be fatal to a prosecution case.

 

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