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Jumping a red light

The maximum penalty for running a red light is (i) a £1,000 fine, (ii) 3 penalty points endorsed on the driver’s licence, and (iii) disqualification. Frequently, though, a driver who runs a red light will get a Fixed Penalty Notice offering a penalty of £100 and 3 penalty points to be endorsed on your licence.

Methods of Enforcement

Red light enforcement may be by an unmanned camera or by a police constable’s direct observation. If a police constable sees you run a red light, he will likely stop you, and may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice. If the police stop you for running a red light, you should – as with any motoring police stop - be prepared to show him your driving licence, vehicle registration and insurance certificate.

If you are caught be a camera, then the authorities will send a Notice of Intended Prosecution to the registered keeper of the vehicle. That person will then be required to reply within 28 days, either: (i) accepting any conditional offer of penalty; or, (ii) if the registered keeper was not driving the vehicle at the time of the infraction, giving details as to who was driving. If the registered keeper fails to identify the driver, then the court will decide whether such failure was reasonable.

Mitigating circumstances

If you fail to stop at a red light, there may have been mitigating circumstances. For example, you may have had a reasonable belief that it would have been dangerous for you to have stopped at the light. Or maybe you moved your vehicle to make way for an emergency vehicle.

If you’re being prosecuted for running a red light and believe that there may have been mitigating circumstances, you should consider getting professional advice. An experienced motoring solicitor will be able to tell you whether you have a genuine case for a reduction in the penalty (or even for the charge to be dropped). But beware. Many of the factors people might be tempted to cite in mitigation (“I was tired” or “it was raining and the visibility was poor”) might actually turn out to be aggravating factors.

Cyclists

Although there have been some proposals that cyclists be permitted to make left turns at red lights, it is not legal for a cyclist to run a red light. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, cyclists must obey all traffic signs and signals. A cyclist can be fined for failing to do so.

Getting help

If you receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution or Fixed Penalty Notice for a red light violation, you might decide that the best course of action is simply to accept the penalty and learn from the experience.

If, however, you believe that you did not run a red light, that there were mitigating circumstances, or if you cannot identify the driver of your vehicle, then an experienced motoring solicitor can probably help. 

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