LEGAL EAGLE: Challenging anti-social driving penalties

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I have recently read that new anti-social driving legislation was introduced in 2013 to stop motorists hogging the middle lane or undertaking other vehicles.

I have been told that the police have been given greater powers and that they can impose fines which must be paid immediately. Is this true?

My husband was stopped recently by a police officer on the motorway, given a fixed penalty notice and told that this was due to the manner of his driving.

Strictly speaking there has not been any new legislation introduced in respect of anti-social driving, however, as of August 16, 2013, careless or inconsiderate drivers can now face ‘on the spot’ penalties when previously their driving may have resulted in proceedings at court.

A fixed penalty for careless or inconsiderate driving is now £100 with an endorsement of three penalty points on the driver’s licence.

If the standard of driving is considered too serious for this penalty the matter will proceed to court.

Under section 3 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, a person who drives a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for others using the road or other public place, will be guilty of an offence.

A person is to be regarded as driving without due care and attention only if the way he drives falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.

The legislation defines a person as driving without consideration if he drives in a way in which other persons would be inconvenienced by his driving.

Tailgating, undertaking or remaining in the middle or fast lane unnecessarily has been deemed to amount to inconsiderate driving.

There have been concerns that since the ‘on the spot’ penalties were introduced more drivers have been targeted by police, as alleged offenders can be dealt with much more easily than when they were required to be issued with a summons to court.

There is also a view that innocent motorists may now be more vulnerable to unfounded allegations being made against them.

If you are issued with a fixed penalty notice then you should seek legal advice and you will have the right to challenge the allegation at court.

If convicted at court you will, however, face higher costs and the magistrates can consider a disqualification or penalty points.

Despite the introduction of these fixed penalties, police forces are able to offer drivers remedial or educational training as an alternative and should be asked if they are willing to do so.