9/22/2007UK to Double License Points for Failure to Identify Driver
Car owners who fail to inform on the driver who received a speed camera ticket will receive doubled license demerit points.
Beginning this Monday, UK motorists who are mailed a speed camera or red light camera ticket will receive a doubled license point penalty if they "refuse to identify the driver." Under current law, the penalty is essentially the same whether an innocent owner pays a photo fine or refuses to incriminate a spouse or other relative who may have been behind the wheel. On September 24, however, the license points for failing to inform will jump from three to six, making it far worse to keep silent.
Motorist Idris Francis argued before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France that this system of punishment was a direct violation of a citizen's absolute right to remain silent. In June, the European justices disagreed and declared the right to remain silent is relative to the circumstances (read ruling).
"If you fumble (a couple of) notices and fail to return them in the 28 days allowed you are almost certain to be banned from driving for six months under these crazy new rules," Francis said. "This isn't road safety -- this is spite -- pure and simple."
With hundreds of millions in speed camera fine revenue at stake, the government prosecuted an estimated 270,000 vehicle owners in 2004 under this provision. Road safety expert Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed, issued a statement reminding motorists that Section 172(4) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 allows vehicle owners to decline to name a driver if after exercising "reasonable diligence" they do not know who was behind the wheel at the time of the alleged offense.
"The authorities have forgotten that driving license points were supposed to help identify risky drivers," Smith said. "Giving extra points to people who simply fumble the paperwork will further devalue the license points system."