Q I received a letter in the post informing me I am been prosecuted for entering a box junction with yellow criss-cross lines. I have been back to the scene of the incident and realised I mustn’t have spotted it because the paint and road surface are in such poor condition itís very difficult to see. I feel the council have a duty to maintain and paint important road markings like this if they are to be adhered to, but could I have grounds to contest the fine?
A The colours, dimensions, proportions and forms of letters and numerals in road signs and markings are all governed by regulations. In the past, courts have held that if signs and road markings do not comply with the regulations, then no offence is committed if the signs or road markings are not obeyed. This was the case even if the sign or road marking was clearly recognisable to a reasonable person as a sign or road marking of that kind.
These principles still hold good, but nowadays the courts take the line that a trivial departure from the regulations will not provide immunity from prosecution. The courts look to whether non-conformity with the regulations cause motorists to be misled or misinformed. If they are so misled or misinformed, a prosecution would probably fail. In your case, it will come down to an analysis of how badly worn the road markings are. You would need to present photos to the court of the road markings, so that the court can form a view as to whether a reasonable person would have seen enough of the road markings to have realised what they signified. You mention receipt of a notice in the post. Offences of this kind require notice of intended prosecution to reach you within 14 days of the offence, so if you did not receive it in time, you may have a defence.
Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.