Golden Balls Gets Off

There has been much uproar after David Beckham used his “vast resources” to “get off” his speeding offence. Many commentators are calling it “an unjust exploitation of a legal loophole” or “an abuse of the legal system”, whilst others say “fair’s fair” when it comes to the application of the law. Due to all the fuss, we decided to look at the case in more detail:

The facts:

  • The incident took place on 23rd January this year, just after 5:30pm on the A40 in Paddington.
  • Beckham was driving a Bentley Continental, which has a top speed of 207mph and a price page of at least £156,000.
  • Beckham had borrowed the vehicle from Bentley.
  • The former England football captain had been caught driving a Bentley at 59mph in a 40mph zone.
  • The Independent reported that on 2nd February, Scotland Yard sent 3,487 NIPs by first class post, one of which was addressed to Bentley as the registered keeper of the vehicle.
  • The ‘notice of intended prosecution’ (“NIP”) should have arrived at Bentley no later than 6th February – it arrived on the 7th – 15 days after the offence.

The law:

  • When you receive a speeding fine, the first notification you will receive is the NIP which is how you need to inform the police who was driving at the time under the Road Traffic Act 1998.
  • This notice should be sent to the registered keeper within 14 days of when the speeding offence took place.
  • If you don’t send the driver’s details to the police within the deadline they give you, then you can face up to six penalty points and a fine which is usually £100.
  • After this, you will be sent notification of whether they will be offering you points and a fine, a speed awareness course, or if it will progress to a court summons.
  • Under the Road Traffic Act 1998, the NIP must be sent to the registered keeper within 14 days of the speeding offence.
  • If when you receive the NIP it is dated more than 14 days after the offence took place then you should send it back to the process office and reject it as it is out of time.
  • If you are not the registered keeper of the car and you receive the NIP past 14 days you have to check to see if they sent it to the registered keeper within the time period. If it has been then it won’t be classed as late.
  • If you do not receive a NIP and only receive a court summons then you may have a defence to the speeding offence and any subsequent prosecution that takes place.

Outcome:

As the NIP in Beckham’s case was ruled to have not been received by either Beckham or Bentley within the compulsory 14 days due to delays in the postal process, the case was dismissed.

Opinion:

No one here at mmadigital would particularly call themselves a “Becks fan” and yet the general consensus here is that the uproar around his speeding offence story was way over the top. The rule of law applies to all, even to those that enforce it. If you’re in the business of law enforcement then perhaps stick the NIP’s in the post earlier to avoid disappointment. Also, is it a “loophole” if it’s a very straightforward legal requirement?

We also wonder, if you were one day late paying a speed fine, would the government let you off? Obviously, as law-abiding and conscientious road-users no-one here has any experience of such matters! 😊


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