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Motoring offences law 'inadvertently leading to convictions'


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Letters from police claim to 'mislead' despite 2015 legislation change geared to streamlining court proceedings.

Wrong direction: Procedural changes to low-level driving offences in UK courts has resulted in convictions

Wrong direction: Procedural changes to low-level driving offences in UK courts has resulted in convictions

Date - 13th August 2019
By - Ceysun Dixon 


Attempts to streamline low-level motoring offences through UK courts has resulted in motorists being convicted without their knowledge, it has emerged.

Since the introduction of Single Justice Procedure Notices in 2015, individuals accused of minor motoring offences – like speeding and dangerous driving – are no longer required to attend court to dispute these charges.

Instead, they are asked to respond online and through the post without ever having to set foot in court, in a move that was intended to prevent costly hearings for incidental offences.

But motorists are now finding that they are being convicted unknowingly because SJPNs are too confusing to understand, with some even being sent to the wrong addresses, denying motorists the chance to even respond to the allegations before rulings are made.

Motoring legal expert, Hojol Uddin, said: “Since the new procedure came into force, there have been numerous cases of people being convicted without their knowledge because, for whatever reasons a notice has not been received.

“This means there are magistrates and legal advisers handling cases without anyone being there to make decisions.”

Under the new law, individuals have 21 days to respond to a SJPN and either admit the charge or provide evidence to dispute it. 

But these notices are no longer sent by the courts like they were under the old law, but by the police. 

The change in issuing procedure has resulted in a lot of “confusion” for motorists who may believe the notice not to be an urgent court matter.

Mr Uddin added: “The type of people that SJPNs will be issued to, based on the offences they cover, is likely to be ones not familiar with the law who might be experiencing their first accusation for committing a criminal offence.

“Therefore, it is understandable that some people could be misled by a letter from the police rather than a document that obviously states the involvement of the courts, which could result in them assuming it is a police matter only.”

The change in law is also likely to catch unsuspecting motorists out and potentially lead to bigger punishments in the long-term. Drivers disqualified without their knowledge may inadvertently be arrested for driving without authorisation, leading to fines of up to £5,000 and even imprisonment.

While the procedure may save time and money for the courts, it is ultimately “resulting in injustice to individuals who are not familiar with proceedings”.

“Until the procedure is made absolutely clear, SJPNs will remain to be a secret system used by the courts,” said Mr Uddin.

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