Speed Awareness Course Instead of Penalty Points?
The majority of low level motoring offences are dealt with out of Court, but when many drivers are first warned that an offence has been detected, they are confused as to how their offence will be dealt with.
The police (and other prosecution agencies such as DVSA) have a number of options. The first is to offer a warning to the driver and will be used in a handful of circumstances where the office feels this use of discretion is most appropriate. For offences which carry penalty points, drivers will always been keen to avoid the endorsement on their Licence. The police have the power to offer a diversionary course, for a small number of offences including speeding and careless driving. The Driver Awareness Course was withdrawn for mobile phone offences in 2017 when the endorsement increased from 3 to 6 points.
The Driver Awareness Course will be offered for careless driving offences which come at the bottom end of the scale. Speeding offences will usually result in the offer of a Speed Awareness Course if the speed is calculated as within 10% excess of the speed limit. The criteria for most police forces also include that the driver has not undertaken a course within the last 3 years and that the course is taken up within 90 days of the offence. This would allow a prosecution to proceed if the course isn’t completed.
There is also the option of fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution. Whilst this is still resulting in endorsement, the points are fixed and the financial penalty will be much less than would have been imposed at Court, taking into account fine, costs and surcharge. It is also important to note that a Fixed Penalty is not a conviction.
Fixed Penalties can be issued for offences such as Mobile Phone Offences, Defective Tyres, Red Light Offences and No Insurance. For speeding offences, each police force has their own criteria and speed range. Generally the brackets for excess tolerance are higher than those for awareness courses, typically 10% plus 1mph. There is no national fixed guidance and the offer of such disposals are always at the discretion of the police. A driver cannot demand that they are dealt with outside of Court.
Drivers should be aware that the vehicle insurance provider must always be updated to avoid the risk of the policy being cancelled for non disclosure. It is more common for drivers to also be asked to provide details of such courses when applying for a new policy of insurance.
In order to improve your chances of receiving an out of court disposal, you will need to co-operate with the police in accepting the offence, providing your correct details and responding quickly to any correspondence.
If you have any questions relating to penalty points and driving prosecutions, call our team today.