During 2020 the Pandemic has had a dramatic effect on all of us and every aspect of our lives. How we travel and use our cars has not escaped the touch of CV19.
During the first lockdown the roads emptied and those that did venture out had almost unique experiences of driving deserted highways. Some were tempted to drive faster, perhaps thinking that the clear spaces meant reduced risk and that they might not be seen or apprehended. However the cameras were still in place and Police still patrolled our roads. Inevitably road traffic offences continued to be committed and in general have still been prosecuted. It is at this stage that the real effect of the virus has been felt.
The Magistrates Courts have been crippled by the effects of the virus and the need for social distancing and public safety. A backlog of over 500,000 cases has built up which is inevitably causing many drivers considerable hardship and others uncertainty and worry. What can be done to assist?
Normally, you can only do a speed awareness course once in any three year period. It seems some Police Forces have introduced alternative courses relating to motorway speeding which may not “count” for these purposes, in an effort to reduce cases going to court. It is worth checking with the Police in the area where your offence took place to see if they have any alternative disposals in place which you can take advantage of.
It is now more important than ever, to make sure all your addresses and documents are up to date. Process will be sent to the address of the vehicle’s owner as described on the log book or V5 at DVLA in Swansea. If it goes to an old address it is not uncommon for people to later discover that they have been convicted and often also disqualified from driving in their absence.
In order to undo those convictions and penalties, statutory declarations have to be completed, applications made to re open, and often appeals lodged to Crown Court. Whilst these remedies are available, the CV handicapped courts cannot deal with them promptly leading to lengthy periods off the road without remedy.
If notices are received, please consider taking advice before returning them. This applies equally to notices of intended prosecution, requests to provide driver details, or the “Single Justice Procedure” forms which ask you to enter a plea on line or say whether you want a hearing. How the forms are completed, and which options are chosen will have a significant bearing on the progress of the case.
In any event you should be prepared for delays. Provided initial time limits are met, for service of notices [14 days], and the issue of summonses [6 months] there is no limit on the time taken to deal with cases. The backlog means that courts across the country are currently dealing with cases that are often a year old and sometimes older still.
In this climate it might be tempting to take a relaxed approach to matters, but the best time to act is as soon any document or information is received. We are able to provide straightforward low cost initial advice which can often assist in avoiding traps and pitfalls which await the unwary.
Cartwright King has lawyers in many areas of law, and the information we are sharing has been written by Motoring Law Solicitor Andy Cash.
For specific legal advice and assistance please call us, or email us using the contact form below.