To be let off a speeding fine because the font on a digital speed sign failed to meet with stipulated traffic regulations may seem a bit far fetched, but in the UK it could be about to happen.
Thousands of drivers in the country who’ve already paid fines for speeding along a stretch of the M42 highway in Warwickshire could be about to get a refund because the font used on the variable speed signs was taller and narrower than it should’ve been.
The UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which decides if a case brought by police has enough evidence to take it to court, informed Warwickshire police of the irregularity towards the end of last year, with some lawyers now asking for fines handed out over a six-year period to be quashed. Around 11,000 fines related to the disputed signs were handed out last year alone.
Following the intervention by the CPS, police temporarily stopped using the signs and dropped prosecutions they’d been pursuing. Lawyers acting on behalf of those who’ve been prosecuted are claiming the fines and other penalties imposed over the years were not legally enforceable.
Warwickshire police said that while there may have been an issue with the font used on the signs, they were nevertheless fully illuminated and clearly displayed the speed limit.
A traffic management consultant and former cop told the BBC that it would be only right for earlier speeding fines and driving bans to be looked at again.
“There should be a situation where cases are opened in the magistrates court to have the cases reheard and the convictions quashed,” Richard Bentley said, adding, “If there are no traffic signs the Act of Parliament prohibits the conviction and these are definitely not traffic signs.”
However, the government’s Department for Transport examined the issue late last year and said the digital signs, together with their controversial font, could be used, with Warwickshire police putting cameras back into action in January.
Drivers who’ve already paid fines, received points on their license or been given driving bans for breaking the speed limit along that particular stretch of highway have been advised to seek independent legal advice.