Dedicated traffic courts for prosecuting minor motoring offences will be set-up throughout England and Wales, the BBC has confirmed. Their purpose will to be minimise pressure on the magistrates' courts that currently struggle to cope with five-hundred thousand motoring cases per-year. The higher courts will then be free to focus more on non-motoring prosecutions. The traffic courts will therefore concentrate on offences that relate to: speed, traffic lights, driving licences and insurance, etc. They will, however, only hear the ninety percent of cases where the defendant pleads “guilty” - so some motorists will still be dealt with by magistrates' courts. This initiative follows the success of trial courts that were set-up in: Essex, Hampshire, Kent, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, West Yorkshire and the Metropolitan Police area. These suggest that the dedicated traffic courts – that should be rolled-out throughout England/Wales by April 2014 – will prosecute about one-hundred and sixty cases per-day.
Justice Minister Discusses Dedicated Traffic Courts
The Government's Justice Minister, Damian Green, argued: “enforcing traffic law is hugely important for road safety and saving lives. However, these cases take nearly six months on average from offence to completion despite the fact that over ninety percent of cases result in a guilty plea or are proved in absence - this is simply unacceptable.” Mr Green concluded: “The justice system must respond more quickly and effectively to the needs of victims, witnesses, and local communities and these dedicated courts will enable magistrates to better organise their work and drive greater efficiency." Dedicated Traffic Court Penalties
As with magistrates' courts, traffic courts will impose – along with fines, etc. – penalty points. As such, a motorist could receive three for “failing to comply with stop sign”. This would stay on the licence four years. “Failing to comply with traffic light signals” could lead to a three point endorsement too - as could “failing to comply with direction of a constable/warden”. Furthermore, “exceeding statutory speed limit on a public road” could earn the perpetrator at least three points - and “failing to provide specimen for breath test” a further four. A motorist who collects twelve points within three years can then be banned unless it is proven that not being able to drive would cause him or his immediate family extreme hardship. This might be via job loss. A less experienced driver could be banned if he/she receives six penalty points within two years of the driving test.