bus lane

A driver from Spalding in Lincolnshire was surprised to get a penalty for driving in a bus lane in Sheffield - not least because he'd never been there. Fortunately the penalty notice came with a photograph which it claimed showed him during the offence: the photograph attached was of one of the council's own sweeping machines.

So what happened, and what can you do if you are a victim of mistaken identity?



Company Director, Jonathan Palgrave, was initially mystified. However, The Mirror reported that he soon discovered the cause of the problem: the road sweeper had a similar registration number to his Tiger sports car - with just one letter difference - a B instead of an E.

He told the Daily Mail that he had contacted the council, but instead of cancelling the fine, it said he would have to follow the statutory complaints procedure. He was also warned that the fine would rise to £90 if it wasn't paid within 28 days, and that he could be taken to court if he failed to pay.

In this instance the newspapers contacted the council, which apologised and dropped the fine, but what can you do if you are a victim of a mistake and receive a fine like this.

What can you do?

Fortunately in most instances, the council will send photographic evidence of the vehicle in the bus lane, so if it isn't your vehicle, you can appeal it on those grounds.

You'll get a Notice of Appeal in the same envelope as details of the offence, so you'll just need to fill it in and send it to the adjudicator listed on the letter. You have 28 days to get this in, but the sooner you do it, the better.

Even if there is no photograph, if you are sure it wasn't your vehicle, you can follow the same process and ask for evidence of the infringement. It will be up to the council to prove that it was your car.

Crazy bus lane fines

It's annoying and frustrating, but it could be worse. There are plenty of people who have received even more crazy bus lane fines.

In May, a Bristol driver was fined for pulling over to let two fire engines past. He appealed against the fine on the basis of the video the council had sent as proof of the infringement - which showed the fire engines scream past shortly afterwards. The council refunded the money and apologised.

Then there was the artist in Kilkenny who was arrested last month over a bus lane fine he had paid three years earlier. Apparently he had sent a cheque for €20 more than the fine, so the court service refused to cash the cheque. The money was considered outstanding, so he was hauled off to prison to pay the fine again.

Finally was the motorcyclist who racked up an astonishing £1,680 in fines in four days in 2010 - all of which were enforceable. He didn't realise that motorcyclists were only allowed in some London bus lanes, and received 14 penalties of £120 each. Some were issued a minute apart.