TfL using ‘loophole’ to pursue innocent drivers

Potentially thousands of London vehicle owners are being asked to pay fines for traffic offences they didn’t commit, according to an investigation by motoring website Honest John.

Legislation passed 15 years ago gives Transport for London (TfL) the power to pursue owners for payment of penalty charges when their vehicles contravene Red Route rules.

This means that even if someone else was driving the vehicle at the time of the infringement, the registered owner of the car has to pay the £130 charge – reduced to £65 if settled within 14 days.

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TfL’s powers to chase vehicle owners for fines stem from the London Local Authorities and Transport for London Act 2003.

But because traffic violations such as entering box junctions or bus lanes aren’t deemed to be criminal offences, innocent car owners pursued for charges can’t defend themselves in court.

And those who can’t or don’t pay face the prospect of a County Court Judgement or action by bailiffs.

Craig Cheetham was sent a penalty charge notice for a yellow box infringement in central London – despite being hundreds of miles away at the time of the offence.

“'My car was on loan to a friend whose own is currently off the road,” he said. “[But] it’s me that has to pay the fine – even though I was in Wales at the time of the alleged transgression.”

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Yellow box junction infringements have led to millions of pounds of fines in recent years.

A BBC investigation in 2016 found that London’s yellow box junction monitoring cameras collected more than £100 million in penalties in just over a decade.

And just one yellow box camera in Fulham raised over £2.4 million from fines in a single year.

On its website, TfL explains: “We issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) to deter drivers from breaking the rules and causing a traffic jam. We don't simply issue PCNs to raise revenue - we enforce the rules to help keep the traffic moving.”

Honest John managing editor Daniel Powell countered: “Whilst nobody would argue against why yellow boxes exist, using them as an excuse to extract cash from innocent motorists isn't what the Transport for London Act was created for.”

Copyright Press Association 2018. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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