According to a RAC article, it was found that almost four thousand drivers a day are caught on camera in London breaking the law. These shocking figures show that drivers in London are frequently pictured committing what is known as “moving traffic” offences. “Moving traffic” offences include offences such as incorrectly driving into a bus lane or stopping in a yellow box junction. According to the RAC article, in 2017/2018 alone almost one and a half million Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) were issued for moving traffic offences across twenty-nine of the thirty-three London Boroughs. This figure was an increase of thirty percent from the previous year.
So, what are moving traffic offences and why are so many drivers being caught doing them on a day to day basis? Under the Traffic Management Act 2004, British councils can apply for additional power to fine motorists for parking offences, contraventions in bus lanes and other moving traffic violations. These other moving traffic offences include:
- banned right or left turns
- no entries, blocking a yellow box junction
- going the wrong way in a one-way street
- illegal U turns
- driving in cycle lanes
- failing to give way to oncoming road users
The aim of law enforcement for moving traffic offences is to stop dangerous manoeuvres on different roads, improve road safety and reduce traffic congestion. Previously, very few councils have taken charge of moving traffic violations despite them being widely enforced. This is arguably down the lack of backing and resources behind councils who requested more resources to enforce the moving traffic offence penalties.
However, in the last year or so councils have been knuckling down on these offences. This change has come after local MPs suggested local authorities in the UK should be given more power to catch motorists committing moving traffic offences. For example, different councils announced giving out £130 fines for drivers who were caught stopping in a box junctions in London 2018. This method of enforcement of moving traffic offences was met with controversy when they were first announced. For example, the RAC expressed concern over councils collecting the fines for certain offences just for revenue. The RAC conducted research over yellow box junctions and concluded that yellow box junctions could be used by the council as an excuse to increase revenue.
The RAC’s research demonstrations that yellow box junctions can be a very troublesome issue for drivers. While most drivers are in favour of councils more widely being allowed to use cameras to catch offenders, there is a strong feeling amongst many drivers that many junctions are not set up fairly. An RAC spokesperson Simon Williams said that some moving traffic offences like stopping in box junctions are a particularly divisive. Williams stated that
“Many junctions are not set up fairly which leads to drivers having no choice but stop in them, whether due to poor traffic light sequencing, poor design or being used in the wrong place. [Drivers] at the front of traffic lights often feel pressured to move on as a result of impatient drivers behind who don’t realise they are being prevented from doing so by the presence of yellow lines.”
The latest statistics reveal that the City of London council handed out the most PCNs last year, issuing 192,841 notices worth around £25 million. Barnet and Islington issued the second and third most charges, at 88,578 and 78,743 PCNs respectively. Of the councils that provided figures, Bexley had the fewest issued PCNs at 11,365. It is estimated that London’s local authorities collected between £93 million and £18 million.
So, what happens next? A PCN is usually sent in the post to the person appearing to them to be the owner of the vehicle. This is usually the person registered as the keeper at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The owner is usually, but not always, liable for the penalty whoever was driving. This is known as Owner Liability. Once the owner has received the PCN, the owner has two options. The first is that the owner of the vehicle pays the penalty charge by following the details and instructions on the notice. The owner should have around twenty-eight days to pay the penalty from the date of the notice. Usually if the authority receives the payment within the first fourteen days, the owner will only have to pay half of the penalty.
The second option is to make representations to the Enforcement Authority explaining why the owner believes that he or she should not have to pay the penalty. Here are some examples of what grounds an owner you could appeal against a moving traffic offence penalty charge notice:
- the current owner of the vehicle was not the owner of the vehicle at the material time
- the alleged offence did not occur
- The penalty exceeded the amount applicable in the circumstances of the case
- the person in control of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence was in control without the owner’s consent
- the vehicle is owned by a vehicle hire firm and was hired under a qualifying hire agree with a signed statement of liability by the person
Even if one of these grounds does not apply, an owner may also ask the Enforcement Authority to consider other reasons for cancelling the penalty, such as mitigation. But, the Enforcement Authority is only guaranteed to cancel the penalty if they accept one of the grounds above applies. If you decide to go for this option then legal advice will be very useful to help with your case.
When making an appeal against a PCN, an owner of the alleged vehicle should explain their reasons fully and clearly and should send any copies of documents that are relevant to the penalty. It is important to remember that an owner should only send copies of these documents and keep the originals. It is also vital that the owner ensures that the Enforcement Authority receives the owner’s representations within twenty-eight days of the date that the PCN was served. The Enforcement Authority might disregard the represents received any later than the twenty-eight-day period. They have the option to consider late representations, but they do not have to follow through with representations that are late.
Once the Enforcement Authority have received your representations against the PCN, they will consider your evidence and then send you either one of two notices. If you receive a Notice of Acceptance from the Enforcement Authority, you will not have to pay the penalty and you need not to take any further action. However, if you receive a Notice of Rejection, the receiver will have two options. The first would be to pay the penalty charge and the second would be the appeal to the adjudicator. A Notice of Appeal form should have been sent to you with the Notice of Rejection. If this form is not enclosed, the Enforcement Authority should be contacted to obtain one.
If you wish to appeal to the Adjudicator later than the 28 days, you should still send your appeal, but you must say on the appeal form why it is late. The adjudicator will then decide whether to allow you to appeal late. If the penalty charge is not paid or an appeal made within the 28 days allowed, the Enforcement Authority may issue a Charge Certificate.
To have a read of the newspaper articles have been used in this blog or to read more about moving traffic offences that could affect you whilst you’re driving, please look at the following websites:
Our team of specialist driving offence solicitors at Driving Solicitors have the experience and expertise to help and guide you through any experience of receiving driving offence. Whether you think you are guilty or not guilty; or have been fairly or unfairly accused of this charge, our solicitors at Driving Solicitors are here to help. Get in contact with our solicitors to fully discuss your situation and your options to appeal against a PCN. So, if you want professional legal help to put together a good defence case with you, please do not hesitate to contact Driving Solicitors on 0203 488 2551 and get expert legal advice from a specialist motoring solicitor today.
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Written by: Miriam Rhodes-Leader