As motoring solicitors we are seeing more and more cases inolving average speed cameras.

Initially they were used on motorways when there were road works. Anyone who drives along M1 between junctions 25-28 will be familiar with them.

We have now been told that the average speed cameras will stay on the M1 after the roadworks are finished. It was also announced today that average speed cameras will be introduced into an urban area for the first time. Average speed cameras will be installed along a 7 1/2 mile stretch of the A13 east of London.

So how do average speed cameras work? Unlike traditional speed cameras it is no use braking when you see one and then speeding up, as the name suggests they work out the average speed between 2 points.

The cameras can be located between 200 yds and 10Km apart, normally they are fairly close together.

Each camera has a ‘pair’, an entry and exit camera. The camera recognises your number as you go past the entry camera and then again as you go past the exit camera. They then work out the time it took and your average speed. If you are above the speed limit then you will be prosecuted. The cameras to be installed in London are made by RedFusion – thier website states -

“Initially, lane specific cameras, utilising Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software, capture and record details of a passing vehicles license plate. This information is then sent via a public network to a centralised computer. As the vehicle travels along the carriageway it then reaches a second set of cameras at which time its license plate details are captured and recorded for a second time. Again this information is sent to the central computer where the data from the two readings is matched and analysed. By using the data from this analysis it is possible to measure a vehicles average speed by looking at the time taken to travel a known distance. When the system calculates a speed that is above the desired threshold a violation file will be created.

Within the violation file all the high resolution images and data collected by the camera system relating to that particular offending vehicle are collated. This violation data is then transferred into specialist computer software for back office processing. From here violation notices can be created against which payments can be made.

All data that is sent to the central computer system is encrypted to ensure the nature of the data is unrecognisable to an unauthorised observer. This allows for total security and ensures complete evidential integrity.

By using multi point to multi point technology, RedFusion is capable of offering accurate speed measurements even if a vehicle changes lane or leaves the particular carriageway being monitored, reducing potential incidents caused by vehicles changing lane in order to avoid detection and in turn ensuring maximum possible offence detection.”

The good news is that there will be a series of photographs. This should help identify the driver and avoid the many cases where drivers are unable to recall who was driving and face 6 penalty points as opposed to the 3 for speeding.

As a specialist motoring solicitor I see a lot of cases in Nottingham, London, Birmingham and throughout England. There appears to be a lot of misconceptions about drink driving.

A lot of people confuse what amounts to a defence and what is special reasons, I even see this mistake being made by non specialist motoring solicitors.

There are very few defences to drink driving. Basically they are - either you weren't driving or you hadn't been drinking. There are technical defences to drink driving and these relate to the drink driving procedure. To prove a case of drink driving the prosecution have to show you were driving and at the time you were over the legal limit. If you are caught at the scene and the police can show that you were over the legal limit then it is unlikely that you have a defence to drink driving unless they make a mistake on the drink drive intoxiliser procedure.

If you were not caught at the scene then you have a potential defence to drink driving. If you can establish that you drank after you drove then this is a defence, simply put; at the time of driving you were not over the limit.

How would you go about proving this? You are going to need an expert to give evidence of the effect of the post driving drinking. One of the questions you will be asked when giving a breath test is "have you drank since the accident?" If you have then it is essential that you tell the police this. You will probably then be interviewed and a detailed note will be taken of what you had to drink, how much and when. This will form the basis of the experts report who will be able to calculate what your breath reading would have been at the time you were driving by taking away the effect of the post driving drink.

If the experts report shows that you would have been under the limit at the time of driving then this is a valid defence and you should plead not guilty at court.

In terms of technical defences these are rare, the police have a form to fill in to help them through the procedure and generally mistakes are avoided. That is not to say mistakes are not made and a good specialist motoring solicitor will go through the form to ensure it is accurate.

For further advice on a drink driving matter contact us anytime on 07799 383239 or email at

A recent court case - Gidden v Chief Constable of Humberside, has effectively changed the law in relation to notice of intended prosecutions.

The law is that for most motoring offences, including speeding, the motorist should be warned that he or she is going to be prosecuted. This warning, called a notice of intended prosecution must arrive within 14 days of the offence.

Until last week provided that the notice was sent in time for it to NORMALLY arrive within 14 days that was enough. So if the police post a notice on 8th June in relation to a speeding offence that happened on 1st June then that would count as good notice, even if it arrived on 16th June.

The recent case, which arose out of the last round of postal strikes has now changed the law. If the motorist can show that the notice arrived after the 14 day period then the police are out of time and cannot prosecute the driver for speeding.

The Judge, Lord Justice Elias said “This case raises an issue of some topicality given the current postal strike and is of no mere small interest,”

“I appreciate that this construction of the legislation may create problems for the police and prosecuting authorities, particularly when the postal service is on strike with the inevitable delays in delivery.

“The authorities must then adopt other means of warning, if they are to avoid the risk of late delivery.”

No doubt specialist motoring solicitors will receive many calls relating to this. The advice is that you will need to return the Notice of intended prosecution saying you were the driver but that it was received out of time. You will then need to be able to convince the court at a later date that it arrived late.

This may make a huge difference to the way the police deal with Notice of intended prosecutions. Only last week I had a case where someone had been asked to tell the police who was driving. the problem was that the first Notice of intended prosecution did not arrive so she was sent a reminder and was then asked to remember who was driving some 6 weeks earlier. A simple recorded delivery would have prevented this problem.

Will the police now be forced to use recorded delivery?

How to reply to a motoring summons if you are not guilty

So you have received a summons for a motoring offence and you deny it, what do you do from here?

The summons will include a form asking various questions. The most important of these is in relation to the 3 options you get for your plea. Either – Plead Guilty by post, Plead guilty at court or plead not guilty.

The summons will normally tell you whether you need to attend court. Normally for a motoring summons it can be dealt with in your absence. This can be an advantage because it avoids taking more time off work.

The aim of returning the form when you deny it is two fold. Firstly you want to avoid any extra court hearings and secondly you want to try and get the matter dropped as soon as possible. This is the best stage to instruct a specialist motoring solicitor.

I see lots of advice from non lawyers online suggesting that you keep your cards close to your chest in relation to your defence.

I disagree with this, if you have a strong defence then let the court and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) know. The CPS will probably not have even seen the file until a not guilty plea is entered. The matter is dealt with as an admin function until a not guilty plea is entered. The CPS have a duty to review cases and see whether there is a realistic prospect of success and whether it is in the public interest.

You may be tempted to follow the advice of a non motoring solicitor and give very few details. The reality is that if you just fill the form in with no details of your defence the matter will be listed for a case management hearing when you will need to attend and explain your defence. This defeats the object of having as few hearings as possible. I would advise that you go through the matter with a motoring solicitor, get advice on what you should put in here, if they won’t give you this advice for free try someone who will (me ) In brief I would suggest you need to give details of your defence,what witnesses you have and tell the court how long you think the case will take (assume about 30 minutes per witness) I would also suggest you tell the court if there are any witnesses for the Prosecution that you don’t neet to give live evidence – in other words if there is a witness whose ‘evidence’ is not contested then you can allow their evidence to be read out rather than them attend court. An example of this may be a Police Counter clerk who simply says she checked your documents when you produced them at the police station.

An example of the advantage of doing it this way happened to me only last week. I had been consulted by a client who was charged with failing to furnish details of the driver. His defence was that he never receieved the paperwork. We completed the form and told the court of our defence, we also told them the names of 8 witnesses who would give evidence that they have had postal difficulties at that address. The result? It was dropped by the CPS at this first hearing without the need for my client to ever attend. Bear in mind this was the first time the CPS had seen the case, by setting out a full and strong defence they took the view there was not a reasonable prospect of success for them and dropped it.

This is not an early april fools joke, it is the latest idea from the government.

Phil Darnton Chief Executive of Cycling England, an agency funded by the Department for Transport presented proposals to the Government.

Government advisors are looking to introduce a law that states that for insurance purposes the owner of the most powerful vehicle will always be at fault for any collision. So if a cyclist jumps a red light, cycles into you because he wasn’t looking or is practicing riding no handed along the High Street whilst standing on his cross bar – it’s the car drivers fault!

Cyclists are not immune in all of this, if they knock over a pedestrian then they are to blame because their ‘vehicle’ is more powerful.

Most drivers would agree that cyclists need prtotection, they are of course more vulnerable. Most car drivers do make allowances for this but does it make sense to make car drivers automatically at fault for any accident? Anyone who has been an a main road in Central London is only too aware of the crazy antics of some of the despatch riders, weaving in and out of traffic at speed. Should they be encouraged by making the driver responsible regardless of the clyclists actions?

Many drivers see this as yet another attack by the government on the car driver, the majority of whom are law abiding. Is this just another attempt by the governemt to get more money from the already squeezed motorist?

"I think I have been flashed by a speed camera, what will happen" or "I think I have been flashed by a speed camera, how long do they have to write to me" are the 2 most common questions I get asked as a motoring solicitor.

The first thing I say is that just because you saw the flash does not mean for sure you will get a ticket. Some cameras simply don't work, some don't have film in etc. That will change when they all become digital and I wouldn't advise taking a chance that they aren't live!

So you have seen the speed camera flash - now what? Provided the car is registered at your home address you will hear something within 14 days. The police have just 14 days to write to you with a notice of intended prosecution. If they don't - they are out of time and there is nothing they can do. But be aware that if the car is not registered at your address, if you have changed address or it's a lease car all the police need do is send it to the address on the log book. If you don't get it for a few weeks later it still counts as valid service.

If you receive the Notice of Intended prosecution you will need to send it back within 28 days. If you don't then you are guilty of failing to furnish drivers details and that carries 6 points.

I will look at what happens after the Notice of Intended Prosecution in the next blog.

Q. How many points do I have to have before I am liable to be disqualified under the totting up provisions?

A. 12 within a 3 year period going from the date of the oldest offence to the date of latest offence.

Q. If I delay the court proceedings can I take it over the 3 year period?

A. NO. The time limit starts on the date of the oldest offence and runs to the date of offence. So if you have 9 points and the oldest was imposed on 12 September 2006. You are stopped for speeding today (28th July) it's todays date that counts not when it is dealt with in court so even if you delayed it until after 12 September at the time of the offence (28th July) you would have had 9 points.

Q. I think I was flashed by a speed camera a few weeks ago but I still haven't heard anything how long do I have to wait to see whether I get a speeding ticket

A. The Police have to issue a notice of intended prosecution to the registered owner of the car within 14 days so assuming the car is registered at your address you should have heard within 2 weeks. If you haven't then they are out of time.

Q. There are road works on the motorway and a temporary speed limit of 50 I was doing 70. I have been told that temporary speed limits don't count. Am I right.

A. No, you can still be fined and points imposed for exceeding temporary limits