Legal i

Red light running

Q  While waiting at traffic lights in two lanes of traffic, I was the first car before the red lights. Upon hearing blaring sirens and seeing lots of flashing lights in my mirrors, I realised both an ambulance and first responder vehicle were trapped behind my car and were right on my bumper. I drove forwards and pulled into the side, about a car length beyond the traffic lights, but have now received a ticket from cameras mounted at the junction. Surely I have a case to fight the fine, as I was assisting the emergency vehicles?


Crossing a stop line at traffic lights is known as an ìabsolute offenceî, which means that if you did it, you are guilty of the offence, regardless of your reasons for doing so. If, therefore, you reject the offer of a fixed penalty and elect for court proceedings, the court would still have to convict you, even though it would have sympathy for your plight.


Although the offence carries a mandatory endorsement of three penalty points, the court does have a discretion not to order endorsement of any points, if it finds that there are ìspecial reasonsî not to do so. ìSpecial reasonsî relate to the circumstances of the offence and, assuming that no danger was caused to anyone else by your actions and you moved just enough to allow the emergency vehicles through, you have an excellent chance. Although you would technically be convicted of the offence, no penalty points would be endorsed. You should also argue for an ìabsolute dischargeî so that you would not be fined either.


This is all well and good, but you would probably want to avoid the stress, inconvenience and expense of court proceedings, so you should write immediately to the office issuing the ticket, explaining the circumstances and ask them to withdraw it. It may well have been issued automatically and when a human being sees what you have said and reviews the video evidence, I would expect them to revoke the penalty notice. If, however, they respond in a less than human way, then you might like to point out that it would be a story of interest to the newspapers…


Designed by solicitors, tested by barristers and available around the clock, Road Traffic Representation is an online legal system that allows people accused of a motoring offence to get free advice on how the law will be applied in their case, and referral to a telephone helpline and representation by a barrister in court if required. Practising solicitor Martin Langan spent two years designing the system and creating the data repository which allows the software to analyse road traffic offences with the same authority as a solicitor.

Twitter: martinlangan

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