As part of the clean up process, after the initial snow had melted, we will have other issues that may take longer to resolve.
The advice for any motorist who is driving in such weather conditions is to drive at a speed commensurate with the prevailing weather conditions. News reports did show some examples of drivers who had disregarded such advice and the nature of the driving by such individuals may well have resulted in accidents.
If the driving falls below a certain standard, it may result in criminal charges for Careless Driving or even Dangerous Driving – depending on how poor the driving could be shown to have been. In such circumstances, it would be no defence to say that by driving at 30-mph in a 30-mph zone you were abiding by the legal speed limit. By travelling at such a speed, the driver could not be said to have been taking account of the prevailing road conditions.
Those charged with Careless Driving currently have the opportunity for the Courts to deal with their case. A recent consultation document issued by the Ministry of Transport is recommending that the Police be given the power to issue fixed penalty notices for Careless Driving offences. This will result in the number of offences of Careless Driving increasing, with the Police less likely to administer a warning to the driver at the roadside.
Currently the Courts decide whether the driving falls below a certain standard as well as on the sentence for dangerous driving. If the proposed new consultation is implemented it will be the Police Officer who stops the driver who will act as Judge and Jury. The fundamental problem is that if a Police Officer has stopped a driver it is because they suspect that an offence has been committed. As such, they are less likely to accept an alternative point of view the driver puts forward.
Whether your driving is careless because of adverse weather conditions or one person’s opinion, the potential to receive penalty points and potentially a driving ban looks set to increase.
It is vital before accepting any fixed penalty that the appropriate advice is sought. The potential short-term benefit of not having to attend Court could have a real disadvantage in the long-term if a penalty is accepted when the evidence did not support it.