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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 49779
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I got caught speeding (61mph in a 50 on the M60 motorway) I

Customer Question

I got caught speeding (61mph in a 50 on the M60 motorway) I offered to pay the fine and take the points but as I couldn't remember if it was me or my wife driving, I refused to sign the declaration as I was not 100% certain. After all, look what happened to Chris Huhne.
I received a date to go to court but I was away on business, I wrote to them and told them about my pending trip.
I have just received a letter today informing me that I have been fined £745 and received 6 points.
Can they just do this? I was never given the opportunity to defend myself AND I offered to pay?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

In short, yes they can.

You have been convicted of failing to identify the driver not speeding. On the facts above I'm afraid you are guilty of that offence.

I am afraid that you misunderstand the law.

Section 172 of the Road traffic act reverses the onus onto you. It does not ask whether you know offhand who was driving. Of course you do not. It does, however, place an obligation upon you to investigate the issue using reasonable diligence and to identify the driver.

With personal vehicles that are usually fairly easy to do is because we can all say with reasonable efforts who was driving our own personal car on any particular day.

“Reasonable diligence" has been considered is by the higher courts and it means doing things like checking your diary, retracing the journey etc.

If you genuinely cannot do so then it is a defence to say that you had used reasonable diligence and cannot say. Sometimes haulage companies are in that position.

Generally speaking, “reasonable diligence" at the magistrates court means doing everything humanly possible. Any imperfection or failing will be used as an excuse to convict you.

Also, you should remember that the law reverses the burden of proof on to you to show, on the balance of probability, that you have used reasonable diligence.

The reversal of the burden of proof has been considered at Europe and has been held the within reasonable limits.
Moreover, if you really cannot identify the driver then you must not guess. That is potentially perverting the course of justice and people go to prison for that.

However the problem you have here is that you didn't attend court to give evidence so the burden of proof was not discharged.

Also, to be wholly honest, its never really very credible to say that you can't say with reasonable efforts who was driving a personal car less than 14 days after the incident.

I'm very sorry but thats your position.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I put in writing to the court that we retraced our tracks 3 times. The vehicle in question is our company van and we regularly share the driving, so with this in mind I, as the named driver of the van, offered to pay up and take the points, but as we do not keep an hour by hour record of who drives I was not prepared to sign the declaration and risk the offence of perverting the course of justice. I am in a losing position either way. My only option was to sign the declaration and potentially lie. How is that right?
I wrote to court to tell them I was away, why wasn't the court date changed to a date when I could defend myself?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
Sorry for the delay overnight.

It wasn't changed because you didn't apply for an adjournment and anyway business commitments is not a ground.

They might reopen it if you go to court and apply but its a discretion.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So, correct me if I am wrong on this. I would have been much better off, flipping a coin to decide the driver and making a false declaration and signing to say 'x' was driving? That way one of us would get the 3 points instead of 6 and pay only £60, insteaed of £745...BUT risk a perjury case against us? Is that how the law works? If so, it appears that trying to be honest with the law is the wrong way to go.
I have emailed my MP about our situation as this is a farce. How can anyone blatantly lie on a legal document and expect to get away with it?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

No, that would perverting the course of justice and then you would be at risk of custody. Nobody is suggesting that you do that. What is being requested is that you comply with S172 or argue reasonable diligence as I have already explained.


The issue is not that have you been honest. The issue is that you have not complied with S172 and have not attended court to argue the only defence that you may have.


Customer: replied 4 years ago.
so, options are;
1.Take the punishment, even though they cannot prove me guilty (what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty?)

2. Appeal, if they allow to try and justify our reasoning??

3. Is there a third option?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
1 No, they can prove you guilty. The burden of prove is upon you to show reasonable diligence. This is not speeding but failing to identify.

2 You have an automatic right of appeal but its better to try to set it aside first.

3 Not at this stage. If you had posted before responding I would have told you how to bring yourself within the case law and to apply for an adjournment but that did not happen. At this stage you are convicted and so you can only either accept it or apply to set it aside or appeal.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
In a court document, which the court sent to me (Notice to defendant Proof By Written Statement) it states, "If you inform me that you do require any of the witnesses to give oral evidence, the case will not proceed on the date mentioned above. The case will be adjourned to a new date, for trial, and that new date will be notified to you by the court"

I wrote back asking for the oral evidence, the court proceeded with the case and ignored my letter. That can't be right can it?

I am in the middle of a letter back to court to explain this, is there anything I should add?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
There's no point in writing to them. They will just ignore your letter and then you will be too late for an appeal if that becomes necessary.

You cannot make applications in writing in the criminal courts save for certain limited exceptions. They need to be done orally before a court
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So, how do I do that?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
You need to attend court and apply for this to be set aside. Its opens to the court's discretion to grant it but they often will since there is an automatic right of appeal anyway.

I think you would need to ask another question to pursue this as your original question has been answered.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok, Thanks. So its £61 per question, not case? WOW!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

I will opt out for you as I can see you are displeased with my answers so far.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
Hello, my name is Ben and I will try and help as my colleague has decided to opt out of this conversation. Just to clarify - it is not a price per question per se - you have asked a lot of questions already and all have been answered. However, you cannot expect to take a who e case through from start to finish for one price and once your original questions that you posted in your initial question are answered, we can answer a few follow up questions but only to a reasonable level otherwise it becomes uneconomical for us to deal with this. So do you have any outstanding questions about this situation?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
yes, many, but I cant afford it. The court have ignored my letter in which I asked for oral evidence from the witness and imposed the penalty. I think your colleague Jo must have missed the point I was trying to make. The court cannot give me instruction to follow and then do something completely different. I am just really thankful that hanging was outlawed many years ago as I would be long gone by now. It will be best for me to get a price from a Solicitor who I can show all my evidence to and talk to, this is missing a lot of the points on here and in my opinion, is a waste of time and money.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 4 years ago.
this is a Q&A site, not a place to take a full case through, on here you get a basic idea of your legal position and information on what you can do next. You will never get full legal advice for the price you have paid. Instead you need to see a solicitor in person but of course the fees will be significantly higher