Driving lesson

I’m a driving expert – here are five ways to challenge a fixed penalty notice…and when NOT to fight it

FRUSTRATED driving fines and unclear traffic rules can quickly land you in hot water.

Knowing the right and wrong time to plead your case can save you a fortune, and there are many important rules of conduct that all Brits should know – but many don’t.

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Knowing when to dispute a speeding ticket and when not to can save you a lot of time and moneyCredit: Alamy

The Sun spoke to Dominic Smith, director of Britain’s leading criminal driving law firm, Patterson Law, to find out what you need to do when faced with a fine for driving – and where you’ll have the best chance to win.

If you decide to take up the challenge, name yourself as a driver

After deciding to dispute a driving penalty, one of the easiest things to overlook is designating yourself as the driver.

However, failing to do so can be a big mistake – and that’s the one many Brits make.

Dominic pointed out that although it is often overlooked, naming yourself as the driver when you receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) is not actually an admission of guilt.

Instead, he said the best way to dispute a speeding matter is to appoint yourself as the driver first – then wait until you’re offered a set penalty or a speeding awareness course. speed.

“It’s just an offer, you don’t have to accept it,” he said.

“It’s not the police giving you three points, it’s the police giving you three points instead of going to court.

“So if you don’t want to accept it, just reject it and you can take it to court,” he added.

The legal expert warned: ‘If you don’t nominate you can be prosecuted for failing to provide driver information – that’s six points and a £1000 fine.’

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Check the signs

Dodgy speed signs are another common problem that can often catch motorists – but they can also be an opportunity to turn your luck.

If there is insufficient signage in the area where you were caught speeding, you may have reason to claim that you could not have known the correct speed to follow.

Dominic said: “If you are disputing a fine based on the signage, I would always advise you to go back to the scene and take some videos. Or look on Google Earth and follow the map.

“If it’s not clearly signed, if it’s confusing, it’s worth challenging.”

Know the Rules of Holding Your Phone

Earlier this year, the laws on using your phone on the road were significantly toughened.

Although driving while using your phone has been illegal since 2003, the rules have since been tightened until many believe you can’t touch your phone at all.

While using your phone while driving is never a good idea, many people still get sued despite not technically breaking the new laws.

Dominic pointed out two very important aspects of the law that could save your ass.

“First of all, it should always be hand-held,” the attorney said.

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“So if the phone is in a holder, you’re not committing an offense while driving, as long as you’re not holding it.”

“You may be committing another reckless driving offense but for it to be a cell phone offense it MUST be hand held.”

Second, while the law says you must hold your phone, you must also be caught USING your phone.

“You could use it for anything, even if you’re just saying the time you’re technically using it, but if you just hold it in your hand, it’s not an offence,” said he declared.

The lawyer said police often try to prosecute people for holding their phones – and those cases can be challenged by the simple fact that you may not be able to prove the phone was even on.

When did you receive your sanction?

One of the most common mistakes drivers make right off the bat is believing their penalty letter didn’t arrive on time.

While it is true that if your ticket has not arrived within 14 days you can reject it, there are several important caveats to this which can often see motorists wasting their time.

Dominic said: “Everyone knows with a speeding ticket that when you get a Notice of Intent to Prosecute (NIP) it has to be sent within 14 days – but a lot of people try and fail to challenge the speeding offenses on this basis.”

The lawyer said a common problem with this challenge is if your car is registered at an old address, meaning your letter was sent there instead.

The same rule applies if your engine is registered to someone else, as if you are driving a company vehicle.

Bottom line – the police will always write to the registered custodian.

“So just because you received your letter outside the 14 days doesn’t mean you can automatically defend it,” Dominic said.

If you’re trying to dispute your PIN on this basis, the legal expert said the most effective way to prove it is to use evidence of missing post.

If you are a new driver – follow this advice

New drivers are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of driving penalties.

A new driver’s license is revoked if they receive six or more points in their first two years – meaning a second speeding ticket is particularly daunting.

During the pandemic, wait times for driving tests have reached record highs, and revoking your license now could mean you won’t be able to try to get it back until next year.

Fortunately, Dominic has a trick that could save you months of hassle.

“We get a lot of new drivers who come to us with three points on their license – and a speeding problem. If it takes them up to six, their license is automatically revoked,” he said.

“However, what a new driver CAN do is take a case to court. A court has the discretion not to impose points, but rather to impose a disqualification.

“This means a new driver can try to plead for a short ban instead of the points. If revoked, you can immediately try to retake your test, but at the moment this will take months.

“As long as you have a good reason not to be banned for that long, the court can accept it.”

Although going this route could mean you lose your license for a month or two, new drivers can get it back much sooner than the alternative.

When not to challenge – don’t get into tech

While there are several legal tricks that can sometimes get you off the hook, embracing technology is almost always a waste of time and money.

Instead, the types of penalties that pose a risk of human error – like handheld speed detectors – are the ones you’ll have the best chance of beating.

Dominic’s golden rule: if you challenge technology, you probably won’t win.

He said: “The best way to defend things is when human error comes into play.

“For example, if it’s just static radar, that’s fine. But if it’s an officer with a portable speed gun, there’s a chance of human error. , for example if it targeted the wrong car.

“Anything with human error is potentially questionable – where people go wrong is that they’re trying to challenge technology.”