you NEED to read this……
Patterson Law Motoring Solicitors persuade Stoke on Trent CPS that West Mercia Police are issuing defective/confusing notices.
Have you accepted a motoring fixed penalty from West Mercia Police for any road traffic offence?
Patterson Law understands that West Mercia police issue in the region of 80,000 fixed penalties per year for motoring offences and the Crown Prosecution have just dropped a case on the basis the form is defective.
The Crown Prosecution Service have agreed that the initial request for driver information is confusing and does not give the person accused the option of taking the matter to court to contest the allegation.
The request for driver information form is broken down into three sections.
Section one asks for your name and address and then asks you to tick box one if you accept you were the driver but cannot accept the fixed penalty because you have 8 or more points, you cannot pay the £60 in full, or you want to present mitigating circumstances to the court.
Section two is to be completed if you are nominating someone else as the driver at the time.
Section three is completed if the person asked denies it was their vehicle that committed the alleged offence.
There is NO option for someone to accept that they were the driver, but wishes to exercise their right to defend the matter at trial. Defending a matter is not the same as presenting mitigating circumstances.
Presenting mitigating circumstances is about asking the court to be sympathetic in relation to sentencing. Mitigation is only heard after someone pleads guilty or is found guilty at trial.
In light of this sensible and pragmatic decision by the Crown Prosecution Service we have made representations to West Mercia Police, Central Ticket Office asking them to review all the fixed penalties that have been issued based on people’s response to this particular form.
We believe that many people who wanted to contest the allegation may formed the view that this option was not available to them. This may have led them to believe that they did not have a right to a fair trial at court, which is a breach of Human Rights legislation. Anyone who is accused of an offence is entitled to a trial if they deny guilt.
We are not sure how long this form has been in use, but many people may have been affected.
If you have accepted a fixed penalty ticket from West Mercia Police for an offence in the last 6 months and did not realise you had a right to contest the matter at court – the response from the ticket office maybe to set aside the ticket and issue a summons to give you that right. The ticket office can only do this within 6 months of the date of the alleged offence for most road traffic matters.
If you accepted a ticket for a speeding allegation more than 6 months ago, but wanted to contest the matter at trial, you may have an argument that the ticket/points should be rescinded altogether and that its too late now to issue a summons to court.
If you were prosecuted for failing to name the driver – because you ticked section three of the form thinking this was the only relevant option, you may have had a defence to failing to name.
The Fixed Penalty (Procedure) Regulations 1986 state that a person must be told about their right to “opt for a trial’ within the fixed penalty. The notice referred to above is a precursor to the fixed penalty being issued. It therefore seems that the only way that you would be advised of the right to opt for a trial, instead of accepting a fixed penalty (in West Mercia), is if you opt for a fixed penalty in the first place? ? Most people would assume that in opting for a fixed penalty they are giving up their right to contest the matter.
Very confusing and potentially a breach of your human rights!
Be careful if you decide to take up an argument with the ticket office based on this article. This is a specialist area of law and every case will rest on its own merits.
We await West Mercia’s response to our concerns and we will update in due course.