N.B. The information below has been superseded by a High Court decision described here.
Action to take if you have been charged with, or convicted of, exceeding a 30mph speed limit on a road without street lighting.
Following the landmark ruling at Redditch Magistrates Court on 9 December 2003 (the case of Regina v. Claire Evans), that it is not legally possible for a road to be a 'restricted road' if it does not have a system of street lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart, the following is a guide to the suggested action to take if you have been charged with exceeding a 30mph speed limit that you think may be unlawful, or if you have been convicted of exceeding such a speed limit in a Magistrates Court, or if you have paid a fixed penalty in respect of exceeding such a speed limit.
The advice that follows has been prepared in consultation with a barrister and is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief. However, the Association of British Drivers does not accept responsibility for any consequences arising from following this advice. If in doubt, you should consult a solicitor. A list of solicitors who are known to be willing to deal with motoring cases is available.
If you have not already done so, it is suggested that you read the page that explains how some 30mph speed limits are unlawful, due to the way in which some local authorities have misinterpreted the legislation. This should give you a good idea of whether the speed limit you were accused/convicted of exceeding might be one that is not legally valid.
The next steps depend on the stage your case has reached. There are three possibilities to consider, which will be dealt with in turn:
a. You have received a notice of intended prosecution but the case has not yet gone to court, or you have not accepted an offer of a fixed penalty.
b. You have been convicted in a Magistrates Court.
c. You have accepted and/or paid a fixed penalty.
A. Notice of Intended Prosecution received
1. Write to the police and ask for a copy of the traffic order under which the speed limit was introduced. The police should have copies of all such orders.
2. The traffic order will specify the sections of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 under which the speed limit was made, and there will be one or more 'schedules' specifying the exact lengths of the road(s) covered by the order. On a road without street lighting (or where the street lamps are more than 200 yards apart), a 30mph speed limit order should have been made under sections 84(1) and 84(2) of the Act. If an order has been made under sections 82(2) and 83(1 or 2), the road will be referred to as a restricted road in the schedule, and the speed limit is not legally valid.
3. If the speed limit is not legal, write to the police and point this out to them, referring to the judgment in the Redditch case. The ruling in the case was that, legally, there can be no such thing as a restricted road without street lamps (or where the street lamps are more than 200 yards apart).
4. The police should drop the charge. If they do not, seek the advice of a solicitor.
B. Convicted in a Magistrates Court
1. You need to obtain a copy of the traffic order under which the speed limit was in operation at the time of the alleged offence. Some local authorities, aware of the possible challenge to the legality of restricted road orders on unlit roads, might have started replacing these orders with correct ones. Write to the police (see step A1 above). If the traffic order on the road has changed since the date of the alleged offence, it might be necessary to write to the highway authority for a copy of the previous order.
2. See step A2 above.
3. If the speed limit is (or was) not legal, write to the Magistrates Court where you were convicted and ask them to reopen your case, under section 142 of the Magistrates Court Act 1980, on the grounds that the original verdict appears to be invalid because the speed limit order was itself not valid. Refer to the judgment in the Redditch case (see step A3 above).
4. The Magistrates Court should quash the conviction. If they do not, or they refuse to reopen the case, you can appeal to the Crown Court, but you should seek the advice of a solicitor.
C. Fixed Penalty accepted or paid
1. See step B1 above.
2. See step A2 above.
3. If the speed limit is (or was) not legal, write to the Police pointing out that you have paid (or have agreed to pay) the fixed penalty, but you have now discovered that you should not have done so because the speed limit order was not valid. Refer to the judgment in the Redditch case (see step A3 above). Ask the police to refund your money (if paid) or to not collect payment. Also, if appropriate, ask them to contact the DVLA to have the penalty points removed from your driving licence.
4. If the police do not agree to your request, you may need to consider applying to the High Court, but you should seek the advice of a solicitor.
If as a result of having been convicted in a Magistrates Court, or having accepted a fixed penalty, you have been disqualified from driving under the totting up system, or have suffered financial loss over and above the cost of the penalty itself, you should seek legal advice.
Unlawful 30MPH limits