I read this recent BBC news story with considerable interest.
I have been asked more times than I can remember “is it worth challenging my speeding prosecution?”, and what one person may pay a lawyer and see as good value will not be the same for everyone. Mr Keedwell obviously felt ok in spending £30,000 on legal fees and costs over three years and getting absolutely nowhere. He had a clean licence and I always ask people not to lose perspective; a fixed penalty of £100 brings 3 penalty points with it and that’s all. Not only does a challenge bring significant expense but it also brings months of anxiety and uncertainty which you cannot put a price on. That always seems to extend to the family!
I always ask how they know they were not speeding, and often it is down to a “feeling” of speed, or sometimes a robust “I never speed”. The fact is that a very high percentage of motorists do speed but my experience is that most do it unwittingly. According to 2018 Department for Transport figures, the percentage of motorists exceeding speed limits in 208 was as follows:
52% in a 30 limit;
87% in a 20 limit;
46% on a motorway.
It is therefore quite common!
With most road traffic prosecutions, it is easy to spend substantial sums of money and achieve little or nothing. It is part of a solicitor’s professional duty to point this out very clearly at the outset or as soon as it is apparent nothing very much can be achieved.
We are all free to spend our money as we choose, but £30,000? Mr Keedwell claimed he had "no case to answer" and recruited the help of a video and electronics expert who told the court the speed camera may have been triggered by a car in an adjacent lane or have been faulty.
However, he said it took four trips to Worcester Magistrates' Court before his case was heard. After losing the case, he lost a further crown court appeal in August.
Apparently Mr Keedwell said he expected the case would be over fairly quickly but my experience is they rarely are. You are in for a long haul, particularly if the case is proceeding in a court to which you have to travel some distance. Travel and accommodation costs can themselves add significantly.
He said he simply wanted justice. That means different things to different people and is not what people always get – courts give a verdict and that isn’t always the same thing.
Prosecutions are routinely brought under both the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 reg.110(1)(a) and the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.41D for using a mobile telephone or similar device whilst driving.
In July this year, the High Court decided that this legislation did not prohibit all use of hand-held mobile phones while driving. It prohibited only the making and receiving of calls and the use of interactive communication functions. This is important because police almost always institute a prosecution simply because a driver is seen holding a telephone. In other words, the [read on]
The Police Sent Section 172 Notice and Notice of Intended Prosecution to the Wrong Address!
Most motorists are aware that the police have statutory power to require the registered keeper of a vehicle to say who the driver of it was on any specified occasion. Police across England and Wales will send out many thousands of these during the course of the year.
What happens if the requirement is sent to the wrong address?
It is often accompanied by a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and for many road traffic offences, such a notice must be received within 14 days if there is to be a [read on]
Using these to avoid speed detection by police laser devices is a serious offence. It falls squarely within the definition “of doing an act tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice contrary to common law.”
On 11 April 2019 Court of Appeal had to decide how to sentence Nicholas Burke. The facts were straightforward and very typical.
On 18 February 2018 a police officer used a device to capture evidence of the speed at which Mr Burke’s BMW was travelling in Yorkshire. The officer believed from what he had seen that the car was travelling in excess of [read on]
From Monday 10 June 2019 drivers who ignore lane closure signs on smart motorways in England will be issued with automatic £100 fines and 3 penalty points.
A closed lane on smart motorway is indicated by a 'Red X' displayed on an electronic overhead gantry and instructs motorists to move to another lane that's running normally to avoid an incident ahead.
According to recent surveys, a significant number of motorists have been ignoring closed lane warnings either because they are not understood fully, or because they think nothing will come of it. The signs have been around for a [read on]
The law relating to drug driving has been in force for a few years now but certain aspects of it continue to cause difficulty.
The law was changed to plug a gap and to make it easier to detect and charge motorists driving under the influence of drugs or with drugs in them over prescribed limits whether they were impaired or not. It brought the drug drive laws into line with drink driving. Police were given new equipment to carry out saliva swipes and require blood samples.
For the first time the law also listed legal and illegal drugs that could form the basis of a charge if prescribed [read on]
Motorists in parts of France who have been convicted of drink-driving could only be allowed back behind the wheel after serving any ban if their car is fitted with an alcohol-activated immobiliser.
The UK has a mixed legal position that appears fragmented. Low-level alcohol offenders generally just serve their ban and then reapply for a licence. As long as they are not High Risk Offenders, or don’t have a history of persistent alcohol misuse they will get a licence again. Others are monitored by the DVLA using medical reports from GPs.
It can seem very hit and miss. I have [read on]
These have been in the pipeline for quite some time.
Now Volvo is to install technology in its self-driving cars that can detect if the driver is drunk. They will use a combination of in-car cameras and sensors to spot if the motorist is showing signs of being over the limit.
Cars will slow down before ringing the Volvo call centre, and a member of staff will speak to the driver and take over the car if necessary.
The self-driving vehicle may even park the car by itself if the driver is unresponsive.
Sensors in the car will monitor changes in the physical movements of both the [read on]
I often get asked this. Many people have an idea that most motoring prosecutions have to be started within 6 months of the date of the offence and are puzzled when a Postal Requisition or Single Justice Procedure Notice (SJPN) arrive after 6 months. Sometimes they can arrive very late.
In most instances there is no good reason for the police to be so slow, but they can be.
Prosecutions are usually started in one of two ways. The most common is SJPN which requires the recipient to respond by pleading guilty or not guilty. No court date is fixed unless it’s a not guilty plea or the [read on]
Recent Home Office figures showed a 43% rise in the number of motorists going to court during the course of the last four years. The number of motorists facing court action in 2013 was 240,000 and this increased to 342,000 in 2017. This is an astonishing increase. At the same time the number of fixed penalty notices issued by police declined from 1,201,000 996,000.
Why has it happened? There are two factors that might contribute.
In April 2017 the penalty for using a mobile phone whilst driving was increased from 3 to 6 points. The penalty points increase for this offence means that more [read on]