The reports of Chris Huhne and his estranged wife, Vicky Pryce, concerning an alleged speeding offence has received widespread coverage. Here, Jeremy Scott, Director, at Lupton Fawcett discusses the allegations and the potential consequences.

The allegations, which are apparently being investigated, relate to a driver asking another person to erroneously indicate that they were the driver on a given time and date when an driving offence took place.

An indication of the prevalence of this activity was highlighted by a survey conducted by Direct Line which found that approximately 3% (564,000) of male drivers have passed on penalty points which would otherwise have accrued to them to someone else.

No doubt by now both Mr Huhne and Ms Pryce have been advised of the potential consequences of such actions if the authorities are able to prove that such a deception has occurred.

Anybody contemplating this activity should be aware that the consequences are far more serious than simply the person who committed the original offence having to take the points which would have otherwise been imposed on him or her.

Both parties are likely to be charged with perverting the course of justice if the prosecution can find sufficient evidence that this offence has been committed.

The tale of the Lefton family is a cautionary one for anybody who is found to have completed Notices of Intended Prosecution in relation to road traffic matters in a dishonest way. This case demonstrated how a speeding ticket issued to Jeremy Lefton who, at the time was 19 years of age, ultimately resulted in Jeremy, his mother and his father receiving custodial sentences.

The first offence occurred on the 21 May 2005 when Jeremy was driving with his father Harold Lefton and was photographed by a speed camera in mid Wales travelling at 88mph in a 70mph limit. The second offence occurred when, two days later, Jeremy was caught again by a speed camera, this time travelling at 85mph in a 70mph limit.

As is customary in these situations, Notices of Intended Prosecution were sent to the Leftons’ home address. The case turned on the family’s response to those Notices of Intended Prosecution. Jeremy Lefton and his mother then perjured themselves at a Magistrates Court trial in respect of the allegations against them.

Mother, father and son were subsequently interviewed by the Police when their dishonesty came to light with Mr and Mrs Lefton being sentenced to three months immediate imprisonment and Jeremy Lefton to three months detention in a young offender’s institution. All three members of the family were of previous good character and otherwise respectable members of the community.

Mr and Mrs Lefton’s sentences were subsequently reduced to six weeks imprisonment with their son’s sentence substituted with a sentence of twenty one days detention.

Whether the above scenario has any parallels with the Chris Huhne and Vicky Price scenario remains to be seen. The reports that Ms Price who, allegedly, initially brought the allegation into the public domain, has subsequently refused to repeat the claims to the Police investigating the matter, may be close to the mark if she has now received advice as to the potential consequences.

The legal and sensible option if faced with the possibility of additional penalty points is to seek legal advice from an experienced road traffic lawyer who can advise, firstly, as to the strength of the evidence in respect of individual offences. If there is no defence available, and there is a risk of totting up under the penalty points procedure, advice should be sought as to mitigation. Ordinarily, anybody who incurs twelve or more penalty points within a three year period from offence date to offence date runs the risk of a minimum disqualification of six months. However, this can be avoided if the Defendant can persuade the Court that the imposition of such a disqualification would lead to exceptional hardship.

The nature of this exceptional hardship and how it best can be conveyed to the Court can be provided by our specialist road traffic team.

To discuss the above or, indeed, any other queries regarding road traffic law, then please do not hesitate to contact Jeremy Scott or on 07971 520407.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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