1. I have heard about the Traffic Enforcement Centre, what is this and where can I find it?
The Traffic Enforcement Centre (your local county court) is used when a penalty notice for a parking offence remains unpaid and no appeal against the issue of the notice has been made. In this case the Local Authority will register a charge certificate for the full outstanding charge and other penalties. Once registered there are only 36 days to appeal, by lodging a statutory declaration, against the charge and the appeal can only be made on one of three very limited grounds. There is a procedure for filing the statutory declaration out of time, when the application will then initially be determined by the relevant local authority or a senior court officer.
If your appeal is successful the charges may be set aside. However, very often there are extra costs involved in this process and our best advice is at all times to make sure that any penalty notices are paid or appealed against when received. Once the local authority has applied for a warrant they may clamp and tow away your vehicle.
2. I parked in a pub car park and was clamped; is this legal?
In order for the wheel clamp to be legal you have breached any parking restrictions notified to you by the owner of the pub. This is usually done by notice in the parking area either preventing parking or limiting the time you can park and the penalty (wheel clamp) that will be applied.
However things are going to change. The Freedom Bill which is due to receive Royal Assent this month (we hope) will outlaw wheel clampers on private land. However we expect this to be replaced by parking tickets which will look very much like the real thing; you have been warned!
3. I have received a notice for speeding but I wasn’t driving; what can I do?
If your vehicle has been observed committing a road traffic offence, a notice of intended prosecution must be served on the registered keeper or driver within 14 days of the offence, if the driver is not stopped at the scene. The notice of intended prosecution places an obligation on the registered keeper to identify the driver of the vehicle at the relevant time. If you do not provide a name of the driver then it is very likely you will be summonsed for the offence of failing to identify under s.172 Road traffic Act which carries a maximum fine of £1000 and 6 penalty points.
There is a defence to this offence if you made all reasonable efforts to establish who was driving, but you are likely to be summons in any event and will need to prove that you made all reasonable enquiries to the court. The response “it was either myself or my partner” is unlikely to succeed, furthermore if you nominate a foreign driver, enquires are likely to be made re the date of arrival in the country and whether the individual was insured.
4. I have been caught drink driving, just over the limit, this is my first offence what will happen. I could lose my job over this; will the court take that into consideration?
The penalties for drink driving are very strict and any small amount over the limit will mean a ban from driving for at least 12 months is obligatory. There will also be a fine imposed and penalty points will be added to your licence. These penalties can be increased if the amount that you are over the limit is substantial.
Whilst it is possible to plead that you should retain your licence, the possible loss of a job is not generally a sufficient reason for the court to allow you to keep the licence.
The court may offer you the opportunity to take part in a drink/drive rehabilitation course which on successful completion can reduce the period of disqualification by up to 25%
5. I have been living here for a year and have been driving with my licence from my home country, can I do this?
The rules concerning licences can be complex. Generally if you are within the EU it is possible to drive in this country using that licence, for 3 years. If you are outside of the EU the relevant time is 1 year.
It is always important to check this as if you have the wrong licence your insurance could be invalid in the event of an accident.
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