Bad drivers could opt to pay £120 fines on the spot

Juan Watterson MHK

Juan Watterson MHK

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Police have new powers to issue on the spot fines of £120 for minor road traffic offences from this week - in a move that is expected to save £100,000 a year.

Fixed penalty notices are aimed at reducing the number of low-level and high-volume driving offences dealt with by the courts.

They will not replace the old system of having all offences considered by the courts.

Instead, drivers will be offered the choice of either accepting a ticket, resulting in a fine and penalty points being imposed without the need to attend court, or receive a summons for a future court appearance.

Inspector Derek Flint said this would streamline the process and relieve pressure on officers. ‘The system is commonly used in other jurisdictions and has been for a long time now,’ he said.

The police approach to enforcement will not change – it will still be proportionate and action will only be taken when necessary.

It will still be down to police officers at the scene to decide whether to caution, issue a notice or prepare charges for court.

Drivers opting to accept a ticket will be asked to produce their documents at the police station and will be given 28 days to pay the fine.

Among the offences that now can be dealt with by the on-the-spot fines are failure to comply with direction of school crossing patrol, careless or inconsiderate driving or cycling, parking on offside of road during hours of darkness, failing to adjust the light of a vehicle to prevent oncoming motorists being dazzled, failure to give required certificate if vehicle found to be defective during a roadside test and exceeding speed limit where vehicle bears an L-plate or R-plate.

Fixed penalties first came into operation in August 2012 but in November last year Tynwald approved an order expanding the number of offences that can be dealt with this way. That order came into effect on April 1.

It is among a package of measures being introduced as part of the Criminal Justice Strategy and is expected to generate cost savings of £100,000 a year.

Home Affairs Minister Juan Watterson said it is intended the introduction of fixed penalty notices will free up court time to ensure more serious cases can be heard sooner. This will in turn help to reduce the impact on victims and witnesses, while improving efficiency.

He said: ‘This project has involved the co-operation of the Department of Home Affairs, Department of Infrastructure, General Registry and the Attorney General’s Chambers and is a great example of joined up government seeking to achieve better ways of working.’

In February last year, the then Infrastructure Minister David Cretney was initially forced to withdraw the Road Traffic Regulation order in Tynwald after some members voiced concern that, far from dealing only with minor offences, a number of infringements covered were actually very serious.

Zac Hall (Onchan) cited the example of furious driving, an offence which he pointed out actually pre-dates the internal combustion engine.

Leonard Singer (Ramsey) said that of the 30 offences originally listed 12 were in his view too serious to be dismissed as minor offences.

The court heard that constraints on police manpower made it impractical for many minor road traffic cases to proceed by way of summons to court and there was therefore a tendency to proceed by way of a caution when, strictly speaking, a prosecution was warranted.

Mr Cretney brought a revised order to the November Tynwald with 12 offences having been omitted, which were thought to be too serious to be dealt with by a fixed penalty notice.

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