Traffic Court in England

Out of all the outcomes that we had been hypothesizing about, none of them came close to how it was all resolved. It was over an incident that had occurred months ago and things went all pear shaped. Basically, it all boiled down to paperwork that allegedly was never filled out, not even about the original speed camera traffic offense.

The summons was for a court appearance at 1:45 in the afternoon, in Fleetwood, just north of Blackpool. We set out early. We worried we would lose too much time so we didn’t stop for lunch, nor did we even put the top up on the car for the last thirty miles or so of driving in the rain. “Those few minutes could cost us!” we thought.

We arrived early, having been advised to ask to speak to a duty solicitor for advice, as they are legally obligated to provide council. However, this apparently does not apply to traffic violations. It was 1:30. Once there, the guards told us they don’t get started until 2:00! There was one other individual there, he said his summons was for 1:30. We then thought we would be the second case heard that afternoon. “No worries!” we thought, “we’ll be in and out and off for some lunch!” We thought wrong.

More people arrived, not many, but more arrived. All a bunch of locals, people in torn blue jeans. An announcement was made over the speaker, the local accent is something else, I couldn’t understand what was said. Apparently it was someone’s name being called and they recognized the language being spoken and entered the courtroom. One after another of these other people were called over the loud speaker and seen.

Remember, we didn’t stop for lunch because we thought we were going to be late. I was beyond hungry at this point, and if you know me, I get all squirrelly, shaky and easily upset to tears over the simplest things when I’m that hungry. “If one more person is called, I’m going to look for something as a snack,” Mark assured me, he was getting super hungry too. That was 3:30. Mark brought back some candy bars, it just made us more hungry but at least gave us both a boost to our blood sugar.

It was becoming clear we were going to be the last case heard that day. Good thing we rushed to drive four hours to Blackpool for this! Finally, just before 4:00, I was called in.

Mark had been peppering me with all sorts of questions, thinking if he were in this situation, what sorts of questions would he expect to be asked, and then some. Making sure I was prepared and wouldn’t sound flustered. I was all set to go in. I was walking into a courtroom on my own, Mark, as my witness, was to sit outside until called.

There I was in front of three magistrates (the “judges”), one solicitor there to advise the magistrates and the prosecuting solicitor. They prosecuting solicitor read aloud the charges and evidence. He then brought up the fact that my last name and my husband’s last name was misspelled in several different ways on various documents. This was enough cause for the case to be dismissed. All this was over in two minutes.

It was then noted that I was from the South, from Buckinghamshire, that I had come along way for this. I was asked to bring Mark in, where they asked about the exact distance we were from home and how much we spent on petrol to get there. They then awarded me £75 to cover the cost of petrol and apologized that they could not cover costs for missing a day at work.

And that was it. We were a bit beside ourselves as we made our way to a local cafe. We both ordered full English breakfasts that were served all day (read: huge piles of protein that we both desperately needed). In a haze of disbelief, we tucked in.