UK drivers could be forced to pay fines they didn’t commit due to legal loophole
Thousands of UK motorists could face paying fines for offences they didn’t commit due to a new legal loophole.
Transport for London is enforcing a clause in the law that means that the legal car owner is responsible for traffic offences committed in their car, even if they aren’t the one driving it.
The law refers to cross-hatch yellow box offences and contraventions of traffic laws in bus lanes.
TfL is using a loophole created by the 2003 decriminalisation of the Transport for London Road Network to chase owners of vehicles, rather than their drivers, for payments of fines relating to traffic contraventions of the capital’s red routes.
Under the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003, TfL was granted the powers to pursue the registered keepers of vehicles.
The Highway Code dictates that a driver must not enter a yellow box junction unless the lane ahead if clear enough for you to pass all the way through it.
Drivers stopped on the yellow grid could also see themselves land a fine.
Yellow box contraventions aren’t considered to be criminal offences, instead civil, meaning that the driver has no right to defend themselves in court.
Since the decriminalisation of the Transport for London Road Network to include box junctions and bus lanes, the Met Police has been enforcing traffic regulations in an agreement with TfL.
Offences committed in yellow boxes, bus lanes and all red routes are punished by a combination of traffic wardens, manned and unmanned cameras and Police Community Support Officers, as a result of this agreement.
HonestJohn.co.uk contributor Craig Cheetham received a Penalty Charge Notice for a yellow box infringement on Euston Road in the Borough of Westminster, but despite the fact he wasn’t driving the car.
Mr Cheetham could prove he was in a different part of the UK at the time of the offence, but TfL is continuing with proceedings to recover the charges, which have risen from £65 to £195 after his appeal was rejected.
“My car was on loan to a friend whose own is currently off the road,” said Craig.
“He was visiting London for work and pulled into a box junction to allow an ambulance across the junction.
“Not only are TfL adamant that, while an ambulance clearly drove through the box junction by its own admission, a traffic obstruction occurred, and as it was my car that ventured into the yellow box, it’s me that has to pay the fine – even though I was in Wales at the time of the alleged transgression.
“How can this be deemed a legal recovery process when, unlike a speed camera fine, there’s no option to nominate the driver of the car?
“And furthermore, how can moving out of the way for an ambulance be considered an offence?”
In its reply to Craig’s appeal, TfL said: “We have noted that you were not the driver of the vehicle on the date and at the time the contravention was observed.
“However, under the London Local Authorities Act 1990 to 2003, it is the registered keeper of the vehicle who is liable for any charges incurred by the vehicle.
“As the DVLA has confirmed you were the registered keeper of the car at the time of the contravention we are satisfied that you are the person liable for payment of this penalty charge notice.”
Honest John Managing Editor, Daniel Powell, said: “Whilst nobody would argue against why yellow boxes exist, using them as an excuse to extract cash from innocent motorists isn’t what the Transport for London Act was created for.”