Level Crossing Offences
Is contravening Level Crossing Regulations a serious allegation?
Yes. Most of these offences are prosecuted by British Transport Police who take these issues extremely seriously. Whilst you may believe that you have driven through as the lights changed, the British Transport Police will suggest that the consequences of the error could be far more serious than simply not complying with a red light elsewhere. As a result, they are unlikely to offer a Fixed Penalty and will probably refer the case to Court. Further, it is by no means uncommon for British Transport Police to investigate the allegations in far more detail than one would expect from other Police forces and they may request an interview under caution.
What is the normal penalty range for a level crossing offence?
Allegations that are brought contrary to the level crossing regulations carry a fine, 3 penalty points or disqualification. As the penalty point endorsement is very low, given the serious nature of the offence, the normal approach of the British Transport Police is to refer cases to Court with a request that disqualification is considered. Alternatively, they may raise allegations of driving without due care or dangerous driving, rather than prosecute solely for contravening level crossing regulations.Careless Driving
Is there a genuine risk of disqualification?
Yes. These are serious offences and you should be alert to the potential implications / penalty options. In particular, there are some locations where offences are committed very regularly with the result that the Magistrates may be inclined to impose more severe penalties to act as a deterrent. The Court will also take into account the exact circumstances, so offences where the barriers are lowering will be regarded as more serious than cases where the lights have flashed but the barriers are upright. Cases where an individual has driven around the barriers would normally be regarded equivalent to dangerous driving, which itself, would normally result in a 12 month minimum disqualification.Avoid a Ban
Can I deal with my case in my absence / writing?
Even if the Court process indicates that the matter can be resolved by letter / online without a formal attendance, the Court still has the option to allocate a hearing if a ban is being considered. Minor offences can normally be resolved in writing but it does depend very heavily on the exact circumstances. If you have been given the opportunity to plead guilty by letter and admit the offence, it probably makes sense to seek advice to establish whether written mitigation is likely to be accepted.Legal Advice
Are there any defences?
There may be a potential defence if it can be established that the signals were defective, but it will depend upon the exact circumstances alleged. If you wish to challenge the allegation, it is sensible to obtain advice and guidance at your earliest opportunity.Legal Advice