Almost 500 drivers will be thanking their lucky stars today, after it was revealed that their tickets for speeding had been quashed due to a technicality involving a speed limit sign.
The sign was positioned on the approach to a weak railway bridge near Berkeley in Gloucestershire, where the speed limit had recently been changed temporarily from 60mph to 30mph.
Mobile speed camera vans had caught nearly 500 motorists driving over the new limit in the weeks since it had been changed.
However, it turns out the sign showing the new limit was invalid as it was placed on a grey backing board which featured a black border.
According to the government's Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions, a speed limit sign may be mounted on a grey or yellow backing board – but backing boards are not permitted to have a border.
The inclusion of a border on the Berkeley sign meant that it had no regulatory power, and was instead purely advisory.
Gloucestershire County Council admitted that the sign had "a small technical fault", and said that it'd be replaced as soon as possible.
A spokesperson added that the new speed limit was a necessary part of "important work to protect the structure of the rail bridge", and added that drivers should still keep to it irrespective of the sign's faults.
In 2006, Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire fell foul of the same regulation by placing speed limit signs on yellow backgrounds with black borders.
The error was found when one driver was stopped by the police for speeding, and discovering the fault, used it in his defence at court.