Fleet operators and business owners should not face prosecution for failing to respond to speeding tickets and other fixed penalty notices (FPNs) during the Coronavirus lockdown, if they can prove they were unable to access their mail.
In the event that a company registered vehicle is caught speeding, or committing another road traffic offence, a Section 172 notice will be sent to the registered keeper.
If a vehicle is registered to a business then a fleet manager or business owner must respond to the notice within 28 days, or face court summons. However, the Coronavirus lockdown may prevent some operators from receiving the notice if their business address is closed or accessing it would contravene lockdown rules.
Fleet News contacted the Home Office to see if there was any legislation to protect operators in this instance. All it could respond with was: “In all circumstances, it is important that people park and drive safely, obey the speed limit and reduce the demand on the emergency services.”
The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) was able to clarify that 7(b) of Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act states that “the person on whom the notice is served shall not be guilty of an offence under this section if he shows either that he gave the information as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of that period or that it has not been reasonably practicable for him to give it”.
This means that if a business has been served the notice, it must be able to show that it could not reasonably give the information within the stipulated timeframe.
An NPCC spokesperson added: “Every situation is dealt with on a case-by-case basis by the local police force.”
Fleet operators and business owners should therefore plan to respond to any tickets as soon as possible, clearly stipulating the reason for a delayed response.
What if a company vehicle is issued a parking ticket during the lockdown?
Parking enforcement has been relaxed across the country, with many councils telling their enforcement agents to stand down.
It is still possible that a vehicle could be issued with a parking ticket and operators could face higher charges for not paying quickly enough.
The British Parking Association, which regulates the parking enforcement industry, said: “In the current circumstances we would expect our members to be mindful of any difficulties and accept the lower rate.”
It advised any operators that were unable to respond to a ticket within the required timeframe to contact the parking enforcement agency or local authority in the first instance and explain the situation. If unsuccessful, the BPA said it will assist fleet operators if they contact it directly.