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Driving Without Lights On: Due Care and Attention?

By: Tracy Wilkinson - Updated: 23 Jun 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Driving Without Lights On: Due Care And Attention?

Q.

Can you be charged with driving without due care and attention for just not having your lights on? My mother has just received summons for this and at the time of the incident the office just gave a caution.

How can they now send this to court 9 months later? Also they have said she wasn't wearing her seat belt when she was. Would they have had to issue some sort of fine at the time of the incident to support this? I've heard this is possibly a HRT01 form.

(J.H, 25 May 2009)

A.

Most driving offences are known a 'summary' offences which means that they can only be dealt with via magistrates court.

Usually, prosecutions for such offences have to start within 6 months from the offence taking place. Unless she was warned that there would be a potential prosecution at the time of the offence, which it seems your mother was not, then she should have received an Notice of Intended Prosecution or NIP through the post. This should come through within 14 days of the offence, and she should have also received one if she was found to not be wearing a seatbelt.

However to answer your initial question, yes, you can be charged without due care and attention 'just' for not having your lights on. Driving without lights when they are needed is an extremely dangerous thing to do and what most motorists forget is that just because they can see well enough to drive, it doesn't mean that other drivers can see them - and that can prove disastrous. However as the police officer said that your mother was just given a caution, that would usually mean an end to the matter and you would not expect to have this come back around 9 months later. Your mother should have a slip given to her by the officer which will confirm her story and will show that the seatbelt issue was not brought up at the time. This can be used in evidence if the matter does eventually go to court.

It seems unlikely then, that this summons is actually valid and it may be thrown out before it gets any further. What your mother needs to do is to check the summons and see what the route of appeal detailed on it is. She should check the date of the alleged offences, and all the other details on the summons - as one mistake can render the charge invalid and have it thrown out with no contest.

Your mother your should follow the route of appeal and contest the charge with the relevant information. If she is not successful through this route it is likely that the worst will happen and she will have to go to court and try to discredit the issuing officer's statement, explaining any circumstances which may have made it difficult for the police officer to see whether or not she was actually wearing a seat belt and wearing it properly. The officers will be expected to produce evidence that they actually informed your mother that they intended to prosecute as she hasn't received an NIP through the post.

Obviously 9 months on it might be difficult to remember the finer details. Did the police officer have a white hat and/or yellow jacket on? If so, they are traffic police and they usually travel in cars that have video equipment. Although this may not have recorded evidence that your mother was wearing the seatbelt, it may record conversations between the police officers that may indicate otherwise. When she was stopped and cautioned, was the seatbelt issue mentioned? If so, was she asked to sign anything or did she say anything about the fact that she was wearing her restraint correctly?

All of these things can be invaluable if she does actually have to go to court so get her to write a statement as soon as possible, which she can refer to if needed.

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Fred - Your Question:
Hello I have a discovery 4 and I’ve had the headlights stolen is it illegal to drive car whilst waiting for replacement obviously just in daylight Cheers steve

Our Response:
We're not sure to be honest. The rules are generally that if your vehicle is manufactured with certain lights, they should be working at all times so maybe not worth the risk. You may, after all, hit poor weather conditions/drive through a tunnel etc and need to use them even in daylight.
NoPenaltyPoints - 25-Jun-18 @ 2:42 PM
Hello I have a discovery 4 and I’ve had the headlights stolen is it illegal to drive car whilst waiting for replacement obviously just in daylight Cheers steve
Fred - 23-Jun-18 @ 9:05 AM
Mistaken - Your Question:
Hello,unfortunately I have driven in m1 without my lights on.I alaways have them on auto but maybe men who fix my car just switch them of.There was few people who flash lighted to me but it I thuoth they just want pass me ,we just had family lost my brain was not working corectly I just tried focused on road. it was not fully dark yeat and no police have stopped me.but obviously is full of camera everywhere.In how big trouble I am?

Our Response:
It's unlikely a camera would have picked this up, they're usually used for speeding, traffic management and possibly ANPR for tracking insurance, road tax offenders etc. Here's what the law says about using dipped headlights:
You MUST
Ensure all sidelights and rear registration plate lights are lit between sunset and sunrise
Use headlights at night, except on a road which has lit street lighting. These roads are generally Restricted to a speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h) unless otherwise specified
Use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced
NoPenaltyPoints - 11-Oct-17 @ 12:12 PM
Hello,unfortunately i have driven in m1 without my lights on.I alaways have them on auto but maybe men who fix my car just switch them of.There was few people who flash lighted to me but it i thuoth they just want pass me ,we just had family lost my brain was not working corectly i just tried focused on road. it was not fully dark yeat and no police have stopped me.but obviously is full of camera everywhere.In how big trouble i am?
Mistaken - 10-Oct-17 @ 8:19 AM
A policeman came to my door one evening with a photo of me driving my scooter over a pavement, I went on it to get to the car park as road was blocked. He came to issue a traffic offence and verbal NIP, it was 20 days after the offence. Does the 14. Day rule apply and if not is it worth going to court ?
J - 21-Oct-16 @ 3:56 PM
I returned to my car less than 10 minutes after the pay & display ticket expired tofind a fixed penalty notice attached timed 3 minutes previously.Aside from the fact that I put sufficient money in the machine for 3 hours and the ticket was issued for 2 hours (OK - I should have checked, but I was running late), the colour of the vehicle stated on the ticket is completely wrong (Blue Vs Bronze !). Is the latter fact sufficient to contest the ticket, and what are my chances ?
fedup - 22-Oct-12 @ 1:17 PM
After going past a stationary police van in the town centre tonight i noticed that i had not put on my car lights. I had travelled about 200 metres before turning them on. The police van did not follow me. If they have not personally pulled me over can i still receive a summons for this offence.
cher - 12-Jan-12 @ 10:35 PM
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