Written 19th March 2013 by Olliers Solicitors

There has been a great deal of publicity surrounding the Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce speeding case, where the former energy secretary was accused of persuading his ex-wife Vicky Pryce to take points, that should have been placed on his driving licence, in order to avoid a ban. Both of them have now been convicted of perverting the course of justice and both been sentenced to imprisonment for a period of eight months.

Such matters are not limited to MPs however. Many of us have received, at some time or another, a request in the post asking for us to disclose who was driving a vehicle which has been caught speeding on camera.

In a recent survey, over half of motorists said that they would be willing to take on penalty points for a family member or friend to ensure that person was not disqualified from driving. Yet, where the police suspect that this has taken place the accused may be prosecuted for perverting the course of justice and if found guilty a prison sentence is often likely.

Why do People Lie About Who Was Speeding?

Research suggests around 300,000 drivers have accepted points on their licence when a friend or family member was caught speeding. The reasons why, despite the high risks, so many people choose to go down this route are mixed. Firstly, it appears that some people are simply oblivious to the consequences. Secondly individuals are often so desperate not to be disqualified due to the consequences that they are prepared to lie. However individuals need to be aware that the consequences of being charged with perverting the course of justice are generally a custodial sentence. Thirdly, people think that they will not get caught. However speed cameras are always improving in relation to the images that they take. A number of individuals have been prosecution for perverting the course of justice after the photographic evidence shows clearly that the individual named as the driver.

The Importance of Contacting a Solicitor

So how should you proceed if you receive a notice through your door asking you to identify the driver in relation to a speeding matter? In this situation it is often advisable to seek advice from a specialist road traffic solicitor. At Olliers Motor Law we advise many clients faced with this type of allegation as it can often be a complicated process.

The relevant legislation states you must name the person who was driving at the time of the alleged speeding offence on the received form and return the form fully completed within the required time period, this being 28 days. Not to return the form fully completed within this time period is an offence, which in itself, carries six penalty points and a discretion to disqualify. If are unable to complete the form because you simply can’t remember, or do not know, who was driving at that time then normally we would request photographic evidence on your behalf from the police in relation to that particular camera. If the photographs are not clear enough for identification purposes then you may have a defence in relation to not completing the form naming the driver if the magistrates can be persuaded that you could not, with reasonable diligence, have ascertained who the driver was.

Even if you name yourself as the driver there may be a defence to the matter of speeding if the speed measuring device can be proved to be faulty or incorrectly used by the police. If you acknowledge that you were speeding there may be a defence if you are the registered keeper of the vehicle, you were not stopped at the time of the alleged speeding, and no notice of the possibility of prosecution was sent to you within 14 days of the offence. There are several important factors to consider when a driver receives an NIP and we would strongly urge you to contact one of the motor specialists at Olliers the moment you receive the notice.

If you find yourself in a position where you do not have a defence for the speeding allegation and you end up receiving penalty points, which in turn pushes your total points up to 12 or more we may still be able to save your licence. Normally, in such circumstances at least a six month ban would be imposed. The Specialist Team at Olliers have extensive experience in “totting” cases and can discuss the options available to you.The main way to avoid a 6 month disqualification is by running what is called an “exceptional hardship argument”. An exceptional hardship argument is when we attempt to persuade the court that imposing a 6 month disqualification would cause exceptional hardship. The court is mainly concerned with how innocent thir parties would be affected by a driver’s 6 months ban and not necessarily how it affects the driver himself.

We have an outstanding record of successful exceptional hardship arguments and very rarely run an argument that is rejected by the court meaning that the vast majority of our clients walk away from court with their driving licence in tact! At Olliers Motor Law, we know how important your licence is to you so please do not hesitate to contact Neil Sargeant or Ruth Peters on 0808 168 0017.

Ruth Peters

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