From recent enquiries to DWF’s Regulatory team it appears that there is some confusion over the powers of the police and VOSA officers to impose Financial Penalty Deposit Notices on drivers who have been issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice. Drivers who are resident in Northern Ireland are increasingly being issued with Financial Penalty Deposit Notices instead of being allowed 28 days to settle their fixed penalty.
When can a Financial Penality Deposit Notice be issued?
Section 90A of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 gives both the police and VOSA the powers to impose a Financial Penalty Deposit Notice if the following conditions are satisfied:
- The officer has reason to believe the person is committing or has committed an offence.
- The person has been given a fixed penalty notice in respect of the offence.
- The person fails to provide a satisfactory UK address.
The United Kingdom includes Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Therefore, any driver resident in Northern Ireland should be able to prove their address in the UK and thus should not fulfil the criteria allowing the police or VOSA to issue a Financial Penalty Deposit Notice. This begs the question why some Northern Irish drivers find themselves being issued with deposit notices.
Deposit notices have to be paid at the point of issue. If not, the officer issuing the deposit notice will prohibit the driving of the vehicle until the deposit has been paid. Clearly Northern Irish drivers should be afforded the same advantages as other drivers resident within Great Britain. To not be given the right to pay within 28 days falls outside of the spirit in which the legislation was written.
VOSA have confirmed that there have been no recent changes to this area of law and that a Northern Irish address is still considered a satisfactory address for the purposes of the law. However they stress that their officers have to believe that the address given is valid and that it would be possible to contact the driver at that address in the future, if necessary. This may explain why some drivers are being issued with Deposit Notices.
Carry your licence while operating a vehicle
On this basis, all UK drivers should carry their driving licences with them at all times whilst in operation of their vehicles. Their licence should be kept updated with any changes of address, so that each driver is presenting VOSA or the police with the most accurate and up-to-date information, which will correspond with records held by the DVLA.
In addition, any drivers who live in the UK and are employed by a UK company, but who hold a non-UK driving licence, should register with the DVLA to obtain a counterpart driving licence. This licence can then be used as their proof of residence. In the meantime, these drivers should ensure that they carry a council tax bill or bank statement in their name as proof of address. Ideally this should be less than three months old to avoid any potential problems at the roadside.
If drivers have presented officers with their driving licence (or other proof of address) showing a UK address and are still issued with Financial Penalty Deposit Notices then operators or drivers should contact a solicitor for legal advice. This is a clear contravention of the powers given to the police and VOSA.
If you require any further information or advice on this subject or any other transport related issues please contact our road transport specialist Vikki Woodfine on 0161 603 5060.