If you have committed a minor traffic offence, like cycling on the pavement or failing to stop at a red light (i.e. contravening a traffic signal), the police have the power to issue you with a one-off fine called a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN).
A FPN offers you the opportunity to discharge any liability to conviction by payment of a fixed sum of money. In other words, if you pay the fine you will not be prosecuted. As there is no prosecution or conviction, you will not get a criminal record. Some forces offer training courses in place of a fine. If you take the course the fine will be cancelled. Some forces will cancel fines that have been issued for failing to have adequate lighting if you present a receipt for a set of lights at a police station.
If you are issued with a FPN it should clarify which offence you are accused of having committed and in what manner.
The fixed penalty for minor cycling related traffic offences will not normally exceed £50.
Until 2013, the FPN for cycling offences was £30 but was raised to £50 in line with a general increase in the value of all FPNs.
A failure to pay a FPN may lead to a higher fine or prosecution for the underlying offence.
If you feel that a penalty notice is unjust you can choose not to pay the fine and contest your case in court. If you go down this route, you must request a hearing within the time frame given on the FPN. Generally you will have 28 days to give notification that you are contesting the penalty. However, you may face a significantly higher penalty if you are found guilty of the offence.
You should contact your local police force to find out who you should notify that you want to contest the FPN. This is normally a central ticket office or traffic processing office.
The Police do not have the power to make you pay the fine on the spot but you must pay it within the time frame given on the FPN. Generally, recipients have 28 days to settle the penalty.
The FPN should also give you details of the person to whom payment may be made.