On Yer Bike!

As a recent 60 year old I decided I needed a challenge outside the courtroom and I'm sure over the years many an opponent has wished I'd get on my bike (lots of other people too I expect).

I have been doing just that for quite a few months and will be taking part in the Prudential London 100 on the 29 July. It's a bike ride of 100 miles from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, west into Surrey (nasty hills they have in Surrey) and then back for a finish on the Mall. It's a timed ride so no slacking is allowed.

I feel fortunate to be well enough to do it, and am using my place to raise money for Clic Sargent, a charity that does sterling work for families with young members battling with and dying from cancer. You can see what they do on their website.

I read many really good posts here about work and life and getting the balance right. You need good balance on a bike ha ha, but making time in my work life for this has been brilliant, more than I would have guessed. Pounds and inches really do disappear and cheaper than a gym or personal trainer.

So my small contribution to law management is...get on your bike. For those concerned about keeping in touch, you can fit a device to the handlebar that will show your emails. I do not have one!

I do however have a Just Giving page and if anything I have said strikes a chord, I would welcome any contribution. 

If you take it up...happy cycling. I was going to add you will never look back, but actually you need to!

New Breath Test Devices Will Likely Convict More Motorists

New testing devices look likely to bring about some swift changes to drink drive breath samples. Drink drivers are to face swifter processing thanks to new roadside breathalyser technology that will allow police to gather on-the-spot proof.

Mobile evidential breath tests will allow police to gather early evidence of drink driving, by taking a breath sample from suspect drivers at the roadside. The instant test means they will not need to be taken back to a police station to obtain evidence as is currently the case.

It will mean those marginally over the drink drive limit will not have extra time to ‘sober up’ and stand a chance of passing a later test at the station.

Until now the roadside test has been used simply to determine whether a driver is over the limit or not. It’s the samples at the police station which determine whether someone is charged or not and there can be quite a delay in getting them taken.

A competition is being run by Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety in the summer, and will invite companies to submit proposed technologies which will rapidly calculate the amount of ethanol in exhaled breath for use at the roadside.

It is expected police forces throughout the UK will be able to use the device by summer 2020.

Speed limits could rise to 60mph when less activity is taking place on motorway roadworks

At last the frustration caused by this looks as though it will be removed. Drivers have long asked why low speeds are required even when no one is working and it has tended to bring speed control into disrepute.

Motorway roadwork speed limits will be increased to 60mph as long as they can be safely operated.

Highways England, which runs the UK’s motorway network, says it is “working hard to reduce drivers’ frustration” with roadworks, and will be conducting a trial to see if higher limits can be introduced during periods when less work is being carried out.

Current motorway roadworks where lanes are narrowed bring with them a speed limit of 50mph or lower, but Highways England is responding to driver feedback to see if limits can be raised to 55mph or 60mph, depending on how much activity is taking place.

Taking weekends as an example, Highways England says “the speed could be increased to 60mph on a Sunday if there is less activity taking place, and then brought back down to 50mph when road workers are working within a few feet of passing traffic.”
Weekday roadwork limits could also rise, with drivers commuting on one carriageway at 50mph, but returning home in the opposite direction at 60mph if “road workers are further away.”

Watch this space.

Keep the right side of the law when driving in the snow

Much of the UK has been hit with severe weather over the past few days. The plummeting temperature can lead to all sorts of problems for road users if they're not careful enough.

While most drivers will know the importance of clearing the car windscreen sufficiently, many may not be aware that failing to brush snow off the car roof can land you with a fine of £60 and points on your licence.

Under section 229 of the Highway Code it clearly explains how drivers should prepare their car before they set off in adverse weather conditions - You must be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows. You must ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible. Make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly. Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users.

If snow was to fall off your car roof and cause an accident with another vehicle, you could end up with a charge for driving without reasonable consideration for other road users which carries a hefty fine - or you could even cause injury.

This is completely avoidable. With very little effort and a soft brush, you can easily remove all snow from your car before setting off on your journey.

Should the UK have graduated driving licences?

Graduated driving licenceUK Prime Minister Theresa May has hinted at further restrictions to new drivers, in an effort to cut road casualties.

The Department for Transport is due to research a 'graduated licencing system', similar to those used in various other countries around the world, that could potentially ban new drivers from carrying passengers and driving at night.

This particular issue was raised by Jenny Chapman, Labour MP for Darlington, after a child was killed in her constituency by a learner driver. Figures demonstrated that a quarter of young drivers (between age 17 and 24) are involved in an accident within the first two years of gaining their licence, and around 400 serious injuries or deaths involve young motorists.

Countries including the USA, Australia, New Zealand and Austria use graduated licensing, and incorporate various approaches and restrictions. Some establish a minimum learning period, others request drivers take an additional test 12 months after their initial pass. Other potential options are a lower drink-drive limit, not carrying passengers under a certain age and a ban on night-time driving. This would be in addition to the present UK law that any driver who gains six points within the first two years of passing their test will automatically lose their licence.

Road safety charity Brake are in full support of this shift and feel that "Our current licencing system is not fit for purpose and throws newly-qualified drivers in at the deep end, at great risk to themselves and others."

What do you think? Is a graduated licencing system the best way to help new drivers?

Gordon Ramsay's Cling Film Trouble

Gordon Ramsay clinfilmRenowned Ferrari fan and celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay has recently offered what he considers to be a 'great tip' for likeminded petrol-heads, to avoid being caught by speed cameras. His vast collection of his favourite branded car is often taken out for late night (or early morning) blasts along the freeway near his LA home. Despite the speed limit being 65mph, Ferraris can reach up to 200mph, but he states he never gets caught because he wraps his number plates in cling film, reflecting the flash of any speed camera.

If a motorist was to attempt this, they would be committing a serious criminal offence that could even lead to imprisonment. Any deliberate attempt to conceal a number plate is a serious crime, with serious consequences. Drivers are legally bound to clearly display their front and rear number plates, and those who attempt to intentionally avoid detection are perverting the court of justice, so save the cling film for your lunch.

Introducing my VLOG

Here I introduce my new series of video blogs aimed at providing useful information for all motorists and particularly those concerned about, or facing, motoring prosecutions.

If there are any subjects you would be particularly interested to have me cover please let me know using the comments box below..

 

 

Section 172 Notice - Practical Advice

NIP 172 get proof of postageWhen police request driver details.

Section 172 Road Traffic Act requirements - Some simple practical advice.

These notices are issued in huge numbers across the UK every week and yet they often cause difficulty.

What happens when the police say they never received it back and claim it can’t have been posted to them?

On the 10 October 2017 the High Court clarified this issue.

The Section 172 Notice procedure requires a written and signed response from the registered keeper giving details of the driver. That’s the easy part. If the police start proceedings saying it never arrived, it is for the keeper to show that the information was actually put into the post. It is not necessary to be able to explain why it never arrived. Prosecutors seem to think you have to do this but it’s not correct. How can you possibly know?

I have dealt with many cases where the police say the information never arrived and their default position is that the registered keeper could not have put it into the post in the first place. The police seem oblivious to the possibility that the envelope may have become lost either by the Royal Mail, or by them.

In these circumstances the registered keeper must provide some evidence to show the envelope was actually posted. This can be proof of posting from the Post Office, or a witness such as a family member saying that the envelope was put into the post.

The High Court dealt with a case where the registered keeper was employed by a university and he placed his envelope with all the office outgoing post. The police said they never got it. The court decided that he had not complied with his obligation under Section 172 because he was relying on his office to post the envelope but had no evidence they actually did. There were no office records showing what went into the post that afternoon.

Harsh, but that’s how it works.

Some simple rules - be careful, and do not rely on someone else to do the posting for you. Do it yourself and obtain proof of posting (it is not necessary to do recorded delivery). Tell someone in the house that you are off to the post box to post it, and keep back a copy of the completed and signed form.

If you do these things you will be in a very good position to defend a prosecution for failing to provide driver details.

Drug-Driving Cases Dropped Over Forensics

It has been announced this evening that a number of drug-driving prosecutions have been dropped because original test results may have been "manipulated" by staff ar Randox Testing Services in Manchester.

What happened at Randox

It is reported that "rogue" staff manipulated quality control results used to check test samples taken in cases ranging from murder to drug driving offences. 

Randox drug testing

Police have probed Randox after two men were arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice in February, and said that more than 10,000 cases may have been affected.

This will cover a wide range of police and civil investigations, but according to the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) 75% were traffic offences, such as drug driving.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said it was "the biggest forensic science scandal in the UK for decades".

A total of 42 police forces across the country sent data to the laboratory for testing.

Potential data manipulation at a different facility, Trimega Laboratories, is also being investigated by Greater Manchester Police, said the NPCC. Tests carried out between 2010 and 2014 may be unreliable according to reports.

What is being done to check test results?

Thousands of samples will have to be retested, assuming that sufficient quantities remain and have been properly stored. Poor record keeping may make it difficult for those affected to be identified and written to.

What does this mean for criminal cases?

Some cases will be abandoned if the courts believe the test results are not reliable. In some instances innocent people will have been convicted and it's possible some guilty people will have walked free.

Police have admitted that in all over 10,000 samples will have to be retested. Whilst it is possible that the retest will give a similar result, a major problem for police will be poor storage after all this time, even assuming that enough blood has actually been retained to do a retest. Inadequate storage and quantities will pose major obstacles for police in these extraordinary circumstances. It  could be very difficult indeed to show that a driver whose results were affected by this was  over the relevant limit.

The National Police Chiefs' Council has stated that "fewer than ten per cent of retests have resulted in drug driving cases being discontinued." Something in the region of 10% dubious results considering how many cases are affected could mean a significant number of convictions will be reviewed.

How long has this been going on?  

Policing minister Nick Hurd has said that all test results carried out by Randox and Trimega are being treated as potentially unreliable. He further stated that most drug tests between 2013 and 2017 are potentially unreliable.

Drug testing appeals

Many motorists will have pleaded guilty and trusted the laboratory results. If you think you may have been affected there is a procedure to appeal your drug driving conviction.

I am experienced in these appeals. If you think you may have been affected contact me urgently on 01580 292409 or use my contact form.

Moving House? Another Item for the Checklist..

Moving house? Inform DVLAMoving house?

No, I don’t do conveyancing but I frequently deal with drivers who have and who have got into difficulty because they did not notify DVLA when they move.

DVLA requires you to tell them when your address changes so your driving licence, vehicle log book (V5C) and vehicle tax are up to date.

This includes if you’re temporarily moving home (if you’re going to university, for example).

It’s a free service and can be done online, but not doing it can cause serious problems if for example you are caught speeding by camera or committing many other road traffic offences.

When this happens the police sent the registered keeper a request to say who the driver was, and it needs to be dealt with in 28 days. A lot of people believe that the police use the address on the drivers’ licence to obtain addresses, but this is incorrect.

Whilst they will sometimes use addresses obtained from insurance records which they can obtain using a Police National Computer check, more often than not the address used is the one held by DVLA on the V5.

If you have moved away and you don’t see it, you have a problem when the court papers themselves turn up. With so much to do when moving you might forget completely to notify DVLA, or just provide a new address for the licence and not include the V5, or just do it late. Suddenly a modest speeding offence is transformed into something much more serious with a higher fine and 6 penalty points.

There is a statutory defence to a prosecution for failing to say who the driver was, and it requires you to show it was not “reasonably practicable” for you to provide the information. It might seem logical to say that it was not reasonably practicable for you to respond to something you didn’t get.

That argument will not work if you did not update your address on the V5 promptly. A court will likely conclude that you could have provided the information had you updated the DVLA.

Your position will be helped no end if you put a redirection service in place, provide a forwarding address to your buyers and if you are away temporarily make sure you make arrangements for someone reliable to check and open your post and get in touch with you.

call if any post arrives for you. If no one is staying there then go to the property and check the post regularly.
These offences carry six penalty points and if you already have points on your licence you can suddenly be facing a disqualification. Some police constabularies prosecute the failure to disclose offence as well as the speeding one, bringing in 9 points on one go!

I can usually help in these circumstances so get in touch with me straightaway.

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