Fleet News

How to navigate the penalty charge notice ‘nightmare’

Speeding fines

Police forces in England and Wales issued 711,700 fixed penalty notices for speeding in 2013, the most recent year for which official records are available.

If an employee is caught speeding in a company vehicle, the registered keeper will receive a notice of intended prosecution (NIP).

It is their responsibility to provide details of who was driving at the time of the alleged offence.

Any failure to provide the information and a separate offence will have been committed.

Philip Somarakis, partner and specialist road traffic and regulatory lawyer at law and professional services firm Gordon Dadds and company secretary of ACFO, says: “Fleet managers must exercise reasonable diligence in identifying drivers through checking records: phone calls, emails and receipts, for example.

“If fleet managers are unable to instantly identify a driver, perhaps if they were at the wheel of a pool vehicle, then they must turn detective.

“Ultimately, if a fleet manager cannot identify a driver they must be able to satisfy a court that it was reasonable not to have a record of who was driving that vehicle at that specific time.”

The NIP must be served on the driver or registered keeper within 14 days of the offence, otherwise the offence cannot proceed at court.

Having received the NIP, the Section 172 notice must be returned providing driver details at the time of the alleged offence within 28 days (21 days in Northern Ireland).

If the police are going to send a conditional offer of a fixed penalty notice, they will normally do so shortly after the section 172 notice is returned. 

The offending driver must either pay the fine or formally contest the speeding offence in court.

Conditional offers have no official system for appeals, though some police forces do accept informal letters of appeal, especially if the speeding ticket has been issued in error.

If an employee is caught speeding, the action taken will depend on various circumstances, but mostly on how far the speed limit was exceeded.

In most cases a fixed penalty notice with a fine of £100 and three penalty points will be the result, but in the most severe cases a driver will be prosecuted in court and could face a fine of £1,000 (£2,500 of speeding on a motorway), between three and six penalty points, and a possible driving disqualification.

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