RAC Cars News


Plead Guilty To Motoring Offences Online

By raccars Published

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The Government is attempting to streamline its process for dealing with minor motoring offences by allowing drivers to make a plea of guilty or not guilty online. The new service is to be called 'Make A Plea' and will be available in England and Wales, covering such offences as driving without insurance or speeding.

A pilot scheme has already been successfully introduced in Manchester and will now be extended nationwide, as part of a courts of justice modernisation programme. With the number of minor motoring offences dealt with by courts reaching about four and a half million a year, the government hopes to cut the amount of time spent dealing with them.

Under the new digital system, pleas can be submitted remotely via smartphones, tablets or laptops through a secure website, 24 hours a day. The alternatives are to attend court or enter a plea by post, but after consultation with court users, the government believes 'Make A Plea' will be a quicker and clearer as well as a simpler way to handle minor motoring offences. The digital technology will allow courts to reduce the amount of paper and people spent navigating the current system, resulting in cost and time savings for both the courts and police. Ministers claim savings could amount to millions of pounds every year.

The courts modernisation scheme has already seen the installation of digital technology into courtrooms, such as WiFi, video linking and upgraded IT systems, at a cost of £160 million. A plan to extend the scheme to other minor offences and for civil claims of less than £25,000, is under consideration.

Motoring groups are backing the introduction of the digital system, hoping it will help to relieve pressure on courts. More than 1,200 online pleas were entered during the trial period in Greater Manchester, or about a third of cases. The digital system means defendants will be able to review case details, such as evidence, online.

'Make A Plea' will be launched on 2 March.

The online plea scheme is particularly timely, as it appears more and more motorists are being caught using a mobile phone while driving. Despite a huge campaign to crack down on the offence, the random checks showed the number of incidences has risen by 14% since 2009. Drivers using mobile phones at the wheel are usually checking social media or email online and texting rather than making calls. Men are worse offenders than women, particularly van drivers. The under 30 age group is more likely to offend than older drivers.

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