Posted on 22/12/2012
A motoring law expert is calling for speeding penalty points and driving bans to be overturned after it emerged that speed camera warning signs on one of the UK’s busiest stretches of motorway featured the wrong shaped numbers.
Police halted prosecutions against speeding motorists when the technical hitch on the M42 overhead gantry signs near Birmingham Airport came to light. Enforcement was immediately suspended and outstanding cases were dropped by Warwickshire Police.
However, motorists who had already pleaded guilty to speeding on the affected stretch of the M42, close to where it merges with the M6, between October 2011 and November 2012 now face a possible legal battle to have their conviction overturned.
The technical hitch over the electronic variable speed signs was revealed by police to motoring solicitor Matt Reynolds who used the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to establish facts about the speed cameras.
Mr Reynolds of motor law specialists Just Motor Law said: “The Department of Transport is clear that signs that do not strictly adhere to the rules are not lawful and the speed limit may be unenforceable and lead to failed prosecutions. In their response to me Warwickshire Police confirmed that they and the CPS suspended enforcement and scrapped prosecutions while the issue was rectified.
“In the circumstances it is only fair and consistent that all speeding convictions associated with these speed cameras during the 13-month period when the wrong-shaped numbers were displayed are overturned. Had motorists known at the time that the signs were unlawful they may have reasonably contested the allegation.
“For most of those motorists who accepted the police evidence at face value it would have meant a £60 fixed penalty fine and between 3 and 6 points on their licence, but for some it may have led to a driving ban with potentially life-changing implications such as losing your job.”
In the FOI response letter to Mr Reynolds Warwickshire Police revealed: “Warwickshire Police Camera Enforcement Unit became aware, via West Midlands CPS (Crown Prosecution Service), on 8 November 2012 that the shape of some (but not all) of the numbers on the Advanced Motorway Indicators (AMIs) were not precisely as prescribed.
“As soon as this information was received Warwickshire Police Camera Enforcement Unit took the view that it would be right to suspend further enforcement whilst the issue was put beyond doubt, rather than continue to issue any further fixed penalties or summonses.
“The CPS and the Police took the view that it would be wrong to continue with outstanding cases whilst enforcement was suspended.
“It is the view of Warwickshire Police that the issue has no impact on cases dealt with by guilty plea at court or upon conditional offers of fixed penalty which have been accepted and paid or upon speed awareness courses accepted and attended. Matters which went further to trial or proof in absence are the responsibility of the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Police have not revealed any more details about the wrong-shaped numbers or if any other motorway signs across the UK are similarly affected.
For more information see our article that has been published on the Mail online website by clicking here