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Red Light Offences

When you are driving a motor vehicle, it is an offence for any part of your vehicle to pass the white stop line if a traffic light has turned either red or amber. This applies to motorway flashing red lights, red lights at automatic level crossings and portable red lights at road works. If prosecuted for the offence of failing to comply with red light signals, you face at least 3 penalty points being imposed on your licence and a substantial fine. If you have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution through the post, it is vital to seek early legal advice. At Cartwright King, we will advise you promptly and represent you in court if necessary.  

Red light offences and the law

You are committing a Road Traffic Offence if you fail to stop for a red light. Certain emergency vehicles are exempted, but in general it is the driver’s obligation to stop at traffic lights unless they are on green. If the amber light is showing, then you must stop unless you have already crossed the white stop line or if you are too close to stop the vehicle safely, and without causing an accident. If the red light is illuminated, then you must stop regardless of the circumstances.    

Many traffic lights now have cameras attached to them, which can provide compelling evidence of an offence. If your vehicle is captured by a traffic camera, you will be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution asking you to confirm who the driver was. If you have any doubts it is vital to take early advice from one of our solicitors. Failure to return the notice properly completed is an offence which carries a fine and 6 penalty points.

What are the penalties?

If you are found guilty of driving through a red light the likely outcome is a fine and 3 penalty points. That will be the case if you accept a fixed penalty. If the case goes to court, the court has a discretionary power to disqualify you from driving and the fine could be up to £1000. In some cases you may be offered a “driver awareness course” as an alternative disposal. This will involve attending a re-training course for half of a day which usually costs  between £85 and £110.

What defences can you use?

Failing to stop for a traffic signal is deemed a ‘strict liability’ offence, so it does not usually provide a defence to say that it was not your intention to commit the offence. However some circumstances may provide a defence, for example;

  • Showing that in fact you did not fail to comply with the traffic signal i.e. you did not go through a red light
  • That there was some defect with the light or the signage associated with it

Sometimes although guilty of the offence we may be able to raise “special reasons” which if found would give the court discretion not to order points on your licence.  A ‘special reason’ is something that does not amount to a defence, but is connected with the offence. It must be a mitigating circumstance and something which the court should properly take into account. For example showing that the only reason you did not stop at the light was to prevent a serious accident or loss of life, or that you crossed the line to allow an emergency vehicle past.

These cases often raise complex issues and it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity if you think your case may involve ‘special reasons’. 

Our motoring team are on hand to discuss your options and represent you in court.

How can we help you?

Cartwright King are available to present your case in court and our lawyers will take into account all the factors surrounding your case. You can be sure that you will receive high quality legal advice and representation from our solicitors where ever you are in the country..

Why Choose Us?

At Cartwright King, our solicitors understand the stress and potentially serious consequences that can arise from road traffic prosecutions. We are available to support you throughout the entire process, explaining the likely outcomes and fight on your behalf.

How to make contact

If you require any legal advice or if you would like a no obligation, free initial telephone discussion, then please call us on 0808 168 5550. Alternatively you can email the Motoring team on and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Our Motoring solicitors provide advice across the country and are happy to meet at a time and location that suits you. We also have a network of offices in BirminghamBedfordDerbyLeedsLeicesterLondon TempleManchesterMiddlesbroughNorthamptonNottingham and Sheffield.

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