Recent events in road policing legislation have seen a revolutionary sea change in how traffic offences are being dealt with. Up until recently if you received a non endorsable fixed penalty notice (an offence that carries no points) you would have twenty-eight days to decide whether to accept the fine of £30 or have the matter contested at court. In respect of an endorsable fixed penalty notice (an offence that would endorse your driving license with penalty points) the ticket would incorporate a HO/RT1 (Home office road traffic), which would require you by law to produce the requested documents within seven days at a police station of your choice. Once produced you would either have the option of surrendering your license to be endorsed with the penalty points or again contest the matter in which case your license would be given back to you and the matter would be sent to court. All that has changed.
For now we have Traffic Offence Reports or TOR’s. There are three major changes. Firstly, the decision to prosecute has been taken out of the Police Officers hands. The TOR is submitted and a decision is made as to the appropriate course of action by a centralized process unit. Secondly, once a driver has been issued with a TOR, they need take no further action. For as it says on the form “ Do not do anything until you hear from (insert your own force details). So no need to produce your license within seven days. Thirdly, many of the offences now carry a diversionary option of a safety course. There are four. Now the cynical may say another moneymaking exercise for the government of the day, but that is not strictly true. A driver going on a safety course will escape the penalty points and the cost of the courses, which vary, are usually less than the fixed penalty fine. A proportion of that money goes back to the issuing force. Now I guess it is up to that force to decide what they do with that money but I know in my own force, every traffic vehicle is now fitted with a defibrillator. So some good has come from it.
Another recent milestone is the increase of fines. The majority of non-endorsable £30 and £60 fines have now been increased to £50 and £100. Endorsable £60 and £200 have now increased to £100 and £300.
Perhaps the most newsworthy change has been the introduction of an endorsable fixed notice for driving without due care and attention, which has been pushed towards those lane two hoggers that cause frustration to other road users on the motorway. I will be discussing this in a separate blog, as the subject deserves some attention. I don’t think in my opinion that it is as clear-cut and dry as many may think.
Finally, paper tickets are now a thing of the past. Offence details are entered onto a personal digital assistant and a till roll type receipt is printed out.
Whilst I see many positives in the recent changes I do wonder who will be enforcing this new regime now that road-policing officers are being reduced to an all time low across the country.