Prosecutions and court procedure

This chapter covers the grounds for and notification of prosecutions and how to deal with one. It also contains a summary of fixed penalty offences, fines and disqualifications and a list of codes and offences.

Updates for 2023:

  • Terminology for summons updated to postal requisition/single justice procedure notice.

  • Update to 'notification of prosecution' timescales.

  • Update to 'pleading guilty in writing'. 

  • Deletion of 'submission of driving licences'.

  • Update to 'mobile phones'.

  • Update to 'drinking and driving'.

  • Update to 'fixed penalty notices' and addition of 'penalty charge notices'.

  • Update to 'penalty points'.

  • Update to 'mitigating circumstances'.

  • Update to 'schedule to offences and endorsement codes'.

Download the prosecutions and court procedure chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law


  • Grounds for prosecutions.
    • Interviews with enforcement authorities.
    • Providing details of drivers.
  • Notification of prosecution.
  • Seven point guide to dealing with prosecutions.
  • Pleading guilty in writing.
  • Appearing in court.
  • Partnership and sole traders.
  • Photographic evidence.
  • Mobile phones.
  • Drinking and driving.
  • Change to drug driving offences.
  • Careless driving.
  • Fixed penalty notices (FPNs).
    • Fixed penalties for historical offences.
  • Penalty charge notices (PCNs).
  • Fixed penalty process.
    • Fixed penalty options – England and Wales.
    • Conditional offer options – Scotland.
  • Deposit scheme.
  • Fines.
  • Endorsement and disqualification.
    • Penalty points.
    • Special reasons.
    • Mitigating circumstances.
    • Removal of disqualification.
    • Driving tests.
    • Construction and use offences.
  • Schedule of offences and endorsement codes.
  • Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring.
  • Causing or permitting offences.
  • Inciting.

Download the prosecutions and court procedure chapter of the Yearbook of Road Transport Law

Court Summons and Breach of Various Rules

A summons for a road traffic offence will generally contain the allegation that the accused either used, caused, permitted or, more rarely, aided and abetted the use of a vehicle in an illegal way. If a summons is issued it should always be checked to ensure the wording corresponds with the facts of the case and that the defendant has been correctly identified.

Some areas of legislation impose ‘absolute’ or ‘strict’ liability for the breach of various rules. This means liability can arise without fault. Therefore, it is often irrelevant whether the accused intended to commit the offence or was negligent. It is often sufficient for the evidence to show that the prohibited act or omission had occurred.

Commonly encountered examples of strict liability offences include speeding, overloading and the minimum legal requirements for insurance. However, other offences, such as careless and dangerous driving, are more complex when determining guilt.