Speeding motorists should face the legal consequences

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Speeding motorists should face the legal consequences

3rd September 2010

An expert in road traffic collisions has called for more speeding motorists to be held accountable for their actions as so-called 'loophole-lawyers' hit the headlines again.

Martin James, a partner with Fentons Solicitors LLP who also acts as a spokesperson for the road safety charity Brake, said he was growing weary of media reports of lawyers using their expertise to exploit the technicalities of the law to get their clients off speeding and other motoring offences.

"There is a widespread perception amongst the public that some motorists charged with driving offences are being acquitted on the basis of supposedly minor technicalities, that subsequently prove devastating to the prosecution," he said.

It is this scrupulous attention to the technicalities of the law that has helped so many drivers escape the charges brought against them. So what are these loopholes that are being so profitably exploited? Apparently many and varied, they are generally seen to rely on discrepancies in the evidence of police-officers or shortcomings in procedures leading up to a charge such as a failure to provide statutory warnings to those arrested before blood or breath tests are taken.

Martin, who for several years has represented victims injured in serious road collisions, said: "There are several loopholes in the law that can and do get exploited by lawyers acting for those guilty of motoring offences. Procedures need to be improved immediately to ensure justice for the families of the eight people who die and the ten times as many who suffer serious injuries every single day on British roads."

Recent Home Office statistics show that of the 2.3m fixed penalty notices issued in 2008, more than half (54 per cent) were for speeding.

More than 700,000 breath tests were carried out, 13 per cent of which were positive or refused. Despite years of campaigning to make drink-driving socially unacceptable in the UK, one in six deaths on British roads are still caused by drink-drivers.

"The fact that motorists are escaping prosecution is not because the rules have been bent in any way by their lawyers," said Martin. "It is specifically due to procedures when applying the law having simply not been followed correctly. All motorists are entitled to legal representation and the lawyer's duty is naturally to their client. What matters in these cases is whether the law is seen to be applied."

"As road traffic collision specialists we encounter the awful consequences experienced by crash victims and their families on a daily basis," said Martin. "The effects of accidents caused by motorists either speeding or being drunk behind the wheel can be utterly devastating to those left behind."

He said he hoped further Government funding would enable the supply of relevant training and staff to police to help them more easily prosecute speeding motorists, and also amend legislation to ensure that it is easier for them to secure convictions against drivers who flout the motoring laws.

How can Fentons Solicitors help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for families and victims of fatal road traffic collisions.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.