More than 24,000 drivers wrongfully convicted for speeding through a West Dorset village could have their fines repaid and penalty points reinstated.
It is estimated that it could cost the authorities £1.5million to reimburse all the affected motorists.
The development comes after a Government review of an inadequately-worded traffic regulation order that was supposed to limit drivers to 30mph on the main road through Chideock.
The review followed a test case, held at Dorchester Crown Court, where Cornish lorry driver Alan Dawe won an appeal against his conviction for ‘speeding’ through Chideock in October 2008 , paving the way for the original traffic order to be officially reviewed.
It was found that the order referred to a 30mph limit for the village’s non- existent ‘Duck Street’ rather than its correct name of Seatown Road.
It was ruled that the incorrect wording left the order invalid, meaning anyone convicted for ‘speeding’ through the village prior to 2007 could have their punishment overturned.
A spokesman for Dorset Safety Camera Partnership said it has now secured an agreement with the Treasury and the Department of Transport to begin reviewing individual cases with a view to refunding fixed penalty payments and revoking penalty points from drivers’ licences, if they were still valid.
The spokesman said the partnership would also begin reviewing cases in which drivers lost their licences, which in some cases left people unable to continue working and spending hundreds of pounds on other forms of transport.
The spokesman said the new review agreement affects 24,899 wrongfully convicted motorists, adding: “The organisations that make up the Safety Camera Partnership will be working together to cover these costs.
“We don’t know how many of these people will make a claim for a refund so it’s difficult to say what the final amount the partnership will pay out will be.
“We’re expecting that some people won’t want to claim it because they admitted driving in excess of 30mph through a village.”
Among those set to have their case reviewed is Weymouth-based shipwright Nicholas Hoare.
Mr Hoare, 58, of Greenhill was fined £60 and had three penalty points added to his licence for ‘speeding’ through Chideock in October 2004.
Since his last court appearance, Mr Hoare has been awaiting the outcome of the Government review before his case can continue.
He said: “I thought the Government were just going to lay low on this issue in the hopes that it would disappear, because this is going to cost the partnership quite a bit now.”
Mr Hoare was allowed to keep his licence and continue driving while he awaits the outcome of the Government review and his case.
He added: “I have to be able to drive in order to do my job.
“I travel to and from marinas throughout Dorset and further afield and my car is like my mobile workshop.
“I’m very glad the review was resolved in this way but it is going to cost the taxpayer a lot of money to deal with this now.”
Dorset Safety Camera Partnership constitutes a partnership between the county council, Dorset Police, NHS South West, the Highways Agency, the courts and the Crown Prosecution Service among other bodies.
These bodies will now be ‘working together’ to cover the costs of reviewing cases.