If you ask someone else to take your penalty points, you are guilty of perverting the course of justice. This could result in a prison sentence. If you have been accused of perverting the course of justice, you need to speak to a solicitor straight away. The implications are very serious and you need a solid defence.
We have a team of motoring offence solicitors and a team of criminal defence solicitors. This makes us well-placed to represent those who have been accused of perverting the course of justice in the context of a motoring offence. Contact us now for free legal advice. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Penalty points and perverting the course of justice
If your vehicle is caught speeding on camera – or is involved in some other minor motor offence – then you will receive a Fixed Penalty Notice in the post. You are asked to complete this form, stating who was driving at the time of the alleged offence. This might have been you, or it might have been a friend, a relative or a named driver on your policy. Either way, you must reply truthfully.
What you must not do is ask someone else to accept the blame for you. Nor must you take the penalty points on behalf of someone else. The purpose of a Fixed Penalty Notice is to penalise the person at-fault. You are not allowed to pick and choose who takes the penalty points at will.
Some people are tempted to do this, especially if they are already sitting on nine penalty points, meaning a further three points would lead to a totting up ban. Alternatively, it might be that a Fixed Penalty Notice would adversely affect their public image or career. Although this might seem like a little white lie, it actually amounts to perverting the course of justice.
What does ‘perverting the course of justice’ mean?
Perverting the course of justice is a criminal offence. According to the legal definition, it is “the act of doing something which interferes with the justice system, such as fabricating or disposing of evidence, intimidating or threatening a witness or juror, intimidating or threatening a judge”. Essentially, it is any action that could prevent the guilty party from being convicted and receiving a just sentence.
In the context of a motoring offence, perverting the course of justice might involve:
- Wrongfully claiming to be the driver at the time of the offence
- Wrongfully denying to be the driver at the time of the offence
- Helping someone to evade arrest
- Obstructing police
- Interfering with a witness
- Interfering with the process of a fair trial
What is the penalty for perverting the course of justice?
Perverting the course of justice carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. However, this level of punishment would be extreme in a driving offence case. If you are found guilty of lying about your penalty points, you would likely face a jail sentence of between three and 18 months. Occasionally, the court may decide only to impose a fine.
This might come as a shock to you. Many people are horrified to learn that lying about who was driving at the time of an offence can result in such a severe punishment. Yet the courts take the matter very seriously and are not opposed to handing out jail sentences, should someone fabricate a story in order to avoid a driving ban.
The cases of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce
This is precisely what happened in the high-profile case of former MEP Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce. After he was caught speeding on the M11, he asked his then-wife to accept the penalty points. Mr Huhne already had nine points on his licence, so a further three would have resulted in an automatic driving ban. This, he feared, would have damaged his campaign to become a Parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrat party.
Seven years later, Ms Pryce revealed the deception following the breakdown of their marriage. After a lengthy legal battle, both were charged on account of perverting the course of justice. Each received an eight-month prison sentence for the roles they played.
Get expert legal advice
The cases of Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce show that no one is above the law. So, if you are wondering whether to ask someone else to accept your penalty points, our advice is to stop and think again. This could land both you and the other person is serious trouble. Instead, contact our motoring defence solicitors. There may be a viable defence that would minimise the consequences of a Fixed Penalty Notice. We can devise the best strategy in your case, working hard to preserve your licence.
Alternatively, if you have already been accused of perverting the course of justice, then our criminal defence solicitors can help you. There are times when people are wrongly accused of perverting the course of justice. This must be brought to the prosecution’s attention, ensuring you are not wrongfully tried for an offence that you did not commit.
If a wrongful accusation is not applicable in your case, then we can explore the best defence available. It may be preferable to plead guilty and secure a reduced sentence. There may also be mitigating circumstances that would persuade the court to show leniency. Or it may be possible to negotiate a lesser charge, such as wasting police time or obstructing the police.
Make a false declaration to the police is a serious offence that can have drastic consequences. If you are facing a charge of perverting the course of justice due to a lie about some penalty points, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We have a team of motor offence solicitors and a team of criminal defence solicitors. This multi-disciplinary approach makes us the best possible law firm to handle your case. We know what is at stake and will do everything we can to achieve a favourable outcome.
We can also help if have recently received a Fixed Penalty Notice and you are concerned about what this could mean for you. All our initial enquiries are completely free of charge, so you can speak to a legal expert about your options. There may be a way of avoiding or reducing a totting up ban.
You can call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.