Holidaymaker Wrongfully Accused of Breaking Speed Limit

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The Law Of... getting caught speeding when you're not even driving

When jetting off on holiday to far flung sunny climes, the last thing you would expect upon returning is to find you've been issued with a speeding notice in your absence. This is exactly what happened to one young holidaymaker.

Holidaymaker Wrongfully Accused of Breaking Speed Limit

Julie Robertson, a Partner with Simpson Millar acting for those accused of committing Motoring Offences, takes a look at the details of this story and explains what options are available if it ever happens to you.

Blissfully Oblivious

While holidaying with his girlfriend in Greece, Chris Lynch was blissfully oblivious to the fact his Vauxhall Corsa was undergoing an unexpected road test, 2,000 miles away.

Having left his car with Blue Star Parking, a valet parking service close to Gatwick airport, and paying £76.94 for the trouble, Mr Lynch, upon his return, was surprised to find Sussex Police writing to inform him his car had been clocked doing 37mph in a 30mph zone.

The date of the alleged incident coincided with when Mr Lynch was out of the country enjoying the Greek sunshine and his belief is that his car, supposedly securely parked in a compound, was taken for a joyride without his consent. To add further insult to already festering injury, the car was returned to him short of petrol, littered with cigarette ash and mud, and with an additional 150 miles on the clock.

Investigated Further

The warning letter sent by Sussex Police was a result of a local Community Speedwatch initiative, where members of the public monitor vehicle speeds using detection devices, with the aim of referring those exceeding the legal limit to the Police. As this was just a report, no driving offence was deemed to have been committed, although the letter made it clear that the warning would be held for 12 months and investigated further should Mr Lynch's vehicle come to their attention again.

Substantial Fine and Penalty Points

Had a speed camera caught Mr Lynch's car breaking the speed limit, he would've faced a typical fixed fine of £100 and 3 penalty points on his license as a minimum.

He would also have been required to argue that it wasn't him at the wheel. The relative gravity of the punishment for travelling 7 miles over the limit in a built up area highlights the severity of this offence. RoSPA states the likelihood of a pedestrian dying after being struck in a collision is 3.5 to 5.5 times greater if driving between 30mph and 40mph than when driving under 30.

The punitive combination of a costly fine and points makes it all the more important for police to get their facts right before issuing fixed penalty notices, particularly when only 1% of motorists actually contest speeding tickets. Many don't realise they are entitled to reject the notice, although this will result in a court summons.

Wrongly Accused of Speeding?

If you are wrongly accused of speeding, whether because of a speed camera, an incorrect radar speed gun reading, or simply on the word of a police officer, you should, and will need to, contest the charge in court. We would suggest you seek professional legal advice from a specialist solicitor with the right level of experience in challenging motoring offences, to ensure the best chance of overturning the fine.

Julie Roberston comments:

"Happily, in this particular case, Mr Lynch was able to prove from his holiday itinerary that he was out of the country when the incident took place and the warning letter was rescinded by the police force in question. But often wrongful accusations end up in court, leading to considerable distress for those standing before the Magistrates."

"It is important for a Defendant who maintains they have not committed the offence to make the Prosecution prove what has been alleged against them. This might be photographs from a forward facing speed camera, or in the instances where a speed gun or speedometer is relied upon, a record of the speed reading, details of how the device has been operated, the checks made to confirm that the device was functioning reliably and a copy of the calibration certificate."

"Never take a speeding ticket at face value. Obtain legal advice and you could save both money and unwanted points on your license."

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