Have you ever received a court summons or requisition? Did you know that the police do not have an unlimited time to start a prosecution for a motoring offence?

Motoring offences such as speeding, careless driving and drink driving carry with them a 6 month time limit from the date of the alleged offence by which the police must either charge the driver, lay a summons at Court or issue a postal requisition. This applies to all offences which can only be tried in the Magistrates’ Court. It does not apply to the most serious offences, for example, dangerous driving as these can be tried in the Crown Court.

In the case of a summons, all the appropriate details such as the name of the defendant and the details of the charge must be completed on the computer system shared by the police and the Courts. This is known as laying an information. As long as this has done by the end of the six month time limit, it does not matter if it is received by the alleged offender after it has expired.

When considering the offence detailed on a summons it is always worthwhile considering the Date of Information stated just above it. A summons may also contain the date it was printed off the computer system. If either of these dates is outside the 6 month time limit then this suggests that it may have been laid out of time.

The method of beginning proceedings by way of a postal requisition as opposed to a summons is a fairly recent development designed to simplify the process. Unlike a Court summons, a postal requisition does not have to be laid at Court within 6 months but must be issued within that time. Our experience is that postal requisitions very rarely contain the information required to make clear when they have been issued. This can result in cases being withdrawn or dismissed by the Magistrates Court.

If you have received a summons or postal requisition and want to investigate whether it is valid contact our office now to speak to an expert.