Q. I recently received a fixed penalty notice for exceeding a 30mph limit while in north Wales. My sat nav usually warns me if I exceed the speed limit, but this didn’t happen, and the notice gave only the number of the road, which I couldn’t find on my map. I would like to check the exact location but the police tell me this is not possible unless I take the matter to court. I don’t plan to appeal but I would like to have the details. What can I do?
A. A valid Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) must provide sufficient information to enable you to consider the allegation properly. A court case in 1959 established this in law: it was held that merely identifying a road four miles long was not specific enough, and the prosecution’s case was therefore invalid. (The case is referred to as Young v Day 1959 123 JP 317; give this reference in full in any correspondence with the police or Crown Prosecution Service.)
Your NIP may be invalid as it seems there is insufficient detail for you to determine the location of the alleged incident, and it is incorrect to suggest you cannot have these details without going to court. I suggest you write again, citing the case above and asking for more details.
Should you be fobbed off again, you could await the summons and challenge the charge in court. You could then (ideally with the help of a lawyer) argue that the NIP was invalid for the reasons stated above and ask for the case to be dismissed.
There is no guarantee your argument will succeed, but the burden will be on the prosecution to prove that the NIP is valid.
Nick Freeman is a solicitor who runs a legal practice in Manchester specialising in road traffic law – read more from Nick here.
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