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Head injury as legal mitigation for fine?


I can almost guess the answer to this one, but ...

Back in January, I got caught by a speeding camera (mea culpa, daughter was late for a rehearsal ...). I acknowledged the first letter, and then received a letter saying 3 pts and £60 fine if plead guilty by letter. I noted somewhere on the original letter that there might have been an option to take a driver awareness course instead and thought I ought to find out why I'd got the fine instead. Now, you'd have thought that I'd learned after several decades that this kind of thing is a bad move, because if I can't resolve things *Immediately* they will get displaced onto my mental back-burner by something else and, regrettably, the gas isn't connected to my back-burner ...

A couple of months ago, I received a court summons for the offence along with notification that the 'Safety Team' would be applying for £85 costs. I, somewhat to my surprise, got on the phone straight away and got through to the appropriate desk asking what this was about; I'd forgotten about it, of course, but they duly refreshed my memory and I vaguely remembered it. They also said that I should have received a reminder about a month later, which I have no recollection of whatsoever. However, I probably had less ability than normal to attend to such things as: a) my mother had been taken terminally ill and I was dealing with that, b) I'd been put on sick leave by the company on an unrelated matter (spinal problems). I explained the situation and was told that I should put the information down on the court papers, which I duly did and then ... got distracted and forgot about them, even though they were in the envelope and all I needed to do was post the ruddy thing!

Inevitably, and unsurprisingly, the magistrate was not best pleased at having heard nothing from me and, in absentia, gave me 4 pts, a £400 pound fine, £85 costs and a few other deductions. The magistrate's displeasure is as nothing to my wife's, as she is inevitably, and unsurprisingly, not best pleased at this sort of thing happening again. Hey, ho. <sigh>

Now, I normally just grin and bear it, mainly because I know I'll never get round to doing anything about it and also because I've learned that most people just don't understand why head-injury forgetfulness is any different to normal forgetfulness. However, in this particular instance, I kind of feel that as the original punishment was a £60 fine, I am in effect receiving a further punishment (and a substantial one) for having a head injury.

As I said, I can guess what the answer is, but I wonder if there any basis in law (eg, equity) for appealing against the additional fine and costs on the basis of my prospective and other memory/attentional deficits, plus other concurrent events, making it difficult for me to comply within the required timescales?

11 Replies

I'm sure that a member of the Headway legal team would be able to clarify the situation regarding an appeal, & I'd imagine you would need to provide the relevant medical proof of your difficulties. The forgetfulness sounds all too familiar to me and I know what a nightmare it can be so I wish you the very best of luck. You probably know the helpline number but here it is anyway.....0808 800 2244. I'm sure they will give you the facts.


Hi, there ought to be, but I suspect as you do that it would only open the door to misuse and so we must abide bythe rules, but I have every sympathy, I've missed lodging my appeal against atos because I forgot to return the papers, hey ho as you say, my answer to my husband is in future these things will become his responsibility!! Hope this works out for you Janet


The way you have reacted in 'not posting and 'forgetting' if any distractions' sound oh so familiar and all I can suggest is have a dedicated area for your post which is regularly 'checked' by partner. This is what I do for my son but if the mail is not in the correct place - problems!


Hi! You have hit the nail on the head 'head injury forgetfulness' is so misunderstood and thought by those who don't understand it to be some sort of excuse. At least some organisations are putting systems into place to help such as the automated reminders for appointments at the dentist. Whilst this is welcome, it is such a small step. My husband has an ABI and even though his employer knew his medical condition, he was disciplined for 'forgetting' a deadline.

Life can be so unfair! Best wishes. x


Hi, I am a fellow sufferer with memory problems and like yourself less than diligent with paperwork. I don't know if you have notified the DVLA about your head injury (it is a legal requirement to do so) and have been given the all clear to drive. Stating you have "attentional deficits" and you drive will not get any sympathy from either the courts or Police and can open a much larger can of worms and your ability to drive safely especially with children on board could be questioned. Driving with a brain injury is put in the same class as drink driving


you make an excellent point, and i fear that this is where it would head, especially if he had not informed the dvla of the full extent of his injuries.

and whilst the courts would possibly be lenient of he could gather the necessary evidence to prove that his injury caused the increased fine

i reckon they would use that same evidence to suspend his driving until assessed


Whilst that might be a possibility, I think they would have to make rather a strong case for suspending my driving. I have already been assessed by the DVLA medical department, based on the evidence provided by various specialists, and considered fit to drive and my insurers have no problem with it either. I even passed the private flying medical examination. There is no evidence to suggest that my particular problems make me any less safe than the average driver, based on the evidence of several decades of driving with the problem.

Ironically, it was probably my quick reactions that prevented me having a more serious accident on the same road last year - I was turning onto a dual-carriageway with a blind spot to my right (trees) and got hit by a car that had turned the wrong way onto the road (his GPS told him to turn right, it was raining heavily, visibilty was poor, the trees shielded the other side of the road, and the road could (and obviously was) easily mistaken for a single-carriageway). Fortunately, I caught a glimpse of the other car in my peripheral vision and hit the brakes, which meant he clipped me rather than driving into my side.


if you have already been assessed then i would say go for it and try an fight it,


Thank you all for your replies. I can see only to clearly the problems that allowing such appeals would create for the legal system, however I cannot but help feel there is an injustice here that needs addressing properly... if it already hasn't been. It's not the fact that it's "my" case that irritates me, it's the general principle that a group of people are being penalised for their inability to take actions in a timely fashion. Well, actually that's not entirely true, thinking about it as I wrote the above, I realize that I'm bloody angry at being kicked yet again by fate due to some "trivial" matter having disproportionate consequences. Nevertheless, the point stands.

My wife normally does deal with this sort of thing, however, it fell through her radar; doing know why. Plus she already has a lot to deal with just running the show (her, 3 children and me). It both irritates and shames me that I find such difficulty in doing normal, simple admin.

Yes, DVLA are aware of my problems, as are my insurers and they have imposed no special restrictions or terms on me. Attention is something that I don't profess to even remotely understand. I do poorly on the automated attention tests. I have great difficulty playing computer games; shoot-em-ups because I can't perceive or keep track of what's going on in real time, and strategy games because I can't keep track of things over even moderate timescales. And yet activities that present an active physical threat, for instance, driving, piloting a light aircraft, or events that pose a threat to others, for instance accidents, seem to present less of a problem. In fact, I'm strongly reminded of the way that attention deficit disorder can be helped by administering stimulants. Unfortunately, such "stimulation" does not seem to carry over into non-tangible threats or threats to me.


Well it hadn't even occurred to me that I should have told the DVLA about my TBI as I already had it when I got my provisional (I still haven't got a proper licence), but I digress and I still haven't even started yet...mental note though, need to make the DVLA aware of situation...I just told my wife too, and she wouldn't care if they said I couldn't drive at all (and it would be something of a blessed relief to me if I'm honest too, after 16 years of having a licence to drive in an L-plated car).

I can sympathise with the irritation thing. My two-year-old is pushing boundaries at the moment and it irritates me that I have such difficulty in showing patience to him.

I can also sympathise with the shame thing as I feel shame over the lack of patience thing, but it achieves nothing so here, take my advice: I'm not using it. *Just* (and that is a truly enormous word for anyone with conditions which affect the brain and its functioning) accept that it is a consequence of your injury. And then if you can *just* accept it, please tell me how to *just* do anything I want to do.


I really do sympathise with this but you know that you have memory issues as a consequence of your injury, so am not thinking that an appeal would work. Better to pay the fine, take it as a learning experience and use technology to keep a track of things that you will need reminding of. It's 2 years since my daughters injury and she has managed to get herself back to work but only by using strategies she learnt in rehab, x


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