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 [read on]

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 [read on]

Dangerous Cycling?

dangerous cycling

It often takes a tragedy to bring about a change in the law.

In February 2016 Kim Briggs was killed by a speeding cyclist as she stepped off the pavement onto a road in central London. Charlie Alliston was convicted of wanton and furious driving, contrary to Section 35 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. It’s worth knowing what it actually says:

"Whosoever, having the charge of any carriage or vehicle, shall by wanton or furious driving or racing, or other wilful misconduct, or by wilful neglect, do or cause to be done any bodily harm to any person whatsoever, shall be [read on]

Driving licence changes: Motorists reminded paper licence not needed from June

Motorists are being reminded that if they are planning to hire a car abroad this summer they'll need to plan ahread.

From the 8 June the paper part of their driving licences is no longer be needed. Motorists will now have to log onto the DVLA web site to check their driving record as paper licences are to be abolished. The paper part will have no validity after that date and motorists at free to destroy them .

The only exception are older style paper driving licences issued before 1998, but most drivers will be affected by the change as they possess a plastic card licence as well [read on]

Driving Licence Changes

The paperless driving licence is here (almost)

Paperless driving licenceThe paper tax disc has now gone, and January 2015 will see the demise of the paper counterpart driving licence. From January 2015, DVLA will no longer issue the paper counterpart to the photocard driving licence.

What does it mean?

In purely practical terms very little because no one needs to actually do anything apart from keeping hold of the photocard part. There will be a number of drivers who do not possess a photocard licence and so they will simply retain the old style paper one. 

Whatever driving entitlements you have to drive will remain recorded at DVLA, along with details of penalty points and endorsements. Those have until now been recorded on the paper part but from January 2015 you will be able to check your record online, or by post and telephone.

The next time you need to update your name, address or renew your licence, you will be issued with a photocard only.

Anyone who does not think they will need the paper licence after the change can dispose of it, but you shouldn’t do that before 1 January 2015.

Organisations and businesses that check the driving licence counterpart

As well as being able to check your own record, DVLA is developing a new digital enquiry service for launch later this year that will allow organisations and businesses to view information they can currently see on the driving licence counterpart.

This will likely apply to employers, car hire companies and insurers. The insurance industry sees it as an important part of the drive to reduce fraud making it more difficult for those buying insurance to hide their records. DVLA will release such information to those that show a right to see it and with the consent of the licence holder. 


‘Morning after’ drink driving on the increase

Morning after drink driving on the increaseFrank Sinatra reputedly joked "I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day."

The reality unfortunately is that people who drink the night before could find their day going rapidly downhill.

According to research from LV= car insurance ‘morning after’ drink driving is on the increase with more motorists putting themselves and other road users at risk. There appears to be a widespread lack of understanding of just how long it can take for the body to get rid of alcohol with many drivers seriously underestimating the time it takes. It is perhaps no coincidence that last year France introduced the legal requirement to carry a breathalyser to self-test. The lack of knowledge is widespread, leaving drivers here to use judgment. The problem is that in many cases judgment is either flawed or distorted by drink.

It takes about an hour for the body to get rid of one unit of alcohol although this varies depending on body mass and gender. Nearly half of drivers spoken to did not know how long they had to wait to be clear to drive, or underestimated it.  

The research suggests that since 2012 one in 30 (3% or 1.2 million) motorists have driven while still over the legal alcohol limit the ‘morning after’ and in many cases these drivers did not realise.

Although the number of drink drive arrests is falling, police arrested 4 per cent more drink drivers between the hours of 6am and 8am in 2012 than in 2011.

Among all those drivers who knew they were over the drink drive limit in the morning, one in five (19 per cent) said they believed they were okay to drive at the time, that driving was unavoidable (37 per cent) or it was just a short distance (26 per cent).

Close to one in 10 (7 per cent) thought it was acceptable as they weren’t driving on a motorway and one in eight (13 per cent) said they were only a little over the limit so it did not matter.

The research suggest that ‘morning after’ drink drivers are on average five hours away from being sober enough to drive when they get behind the wheel.

These are in many ways quite surprising statistics. I think that there is a real lack of awareness about how the body deals with alcohol. I frequently hear people saying they thought a night’s sleep or even a few hours is sufficient to get rid of alcohol consumed the night before.

The LV= research shows that men are more likely than women to be over the limit when they drive the morning after a night drinking (78% and 22% respectively). This is because men will consume a greater number of alcohol units on a night out and are more likely to use their car the morning after. LV= says that on average, morning after drivers consume 19 units of alcohol (e.g. seven pints of strong lager or six 250ml glasses of wine) and then drive their car just 10 hours after having their first drink – meaning that they are five hours away from being sober enough to drive legally.
The legal limits allow a driver to have a maximum of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, 35mg per 100ml of breath or 107mg per 100ml of urine. Figures suggest this equates to approximately four units for an average man and two to three units for an average woman but the amount varies between people and needs treating with real caution. It takes about an hour for the body to break down one unit of alcohol, but that this can vary according to on a number of factors including the person’s age, weight, gender and metabolism. Estimating or guessing is a very risky business.

Section 172 Notices and invalid prosecutions

Check dates on 172 noticesPolice in Greater Manchester have taken the decision to abandon hundreds of cases against drivers because summonses were not issued in time and this may have implications for many similar cases.

It is worth being clear what a Section 172 notice is. It derives its name from Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, and gives the police authority to require a registered keeper of a vehicle to state who was driving the vehicle on a particular date and time. They very commonly arrive after a vehicle has been photographed speeding.

The law requires the registered keeper to comply within 28 days, and if he does not an offence is committed. It carries 6 points on conviction, so can quickly get someone half way to 12 and disqualification, or worse all the way there.

If a registered keeper is to be prosecuted for failing to provide details of the driver, a summons must be issued within 6 months of the date of the offence. The person who fails to comply with the notice commits the offence on the expiration of the period of 28 days.

To take an example, the registered keeper of a vehicle photographed speeding by a speed camera on the 30 October 2011 at 10.30 in the morning might receive a notice under Section 172 on the 10 November 2011. It ought to arrive in 14 days of the offence, and it will give 28 days to provide the identity of the driver on that date and time. An offence is committed if by the 9 November the information has not been provided.

It is quite common for reminders or second requests to be sent out, and if this fails to produce the required information a summons will usually follow. So in my example a reminder might be sent out on the 10 November giving another 28 days to comply, expiring on the 8 December 2011. A reminder is not a requirement and one might not be sent.

If a summons is to be issued the law requires that to be done within 6 months of the offence, and in my example that would be the 9 May 2012, 6 months from the expiry of the first notice and not the reminder which would be 8 June 2012.

Summonses issued late are invalid, simple as that.. What sometimes happens is that the time for calculating the 6 months period is taken from the end of the reminder, and if it’s issued late in the 6 month period it risks being issued before the 8 June but after the 9 May.

Greater Manchester Police have apparently realised this and decided that summonses issued late because of the reminder process should be withdrawn as being invalid. It potentially opens up the possibility of wrongful convictions being looked at and may affect hundreds of drivers and registered keepers.

It emphasises the importance of carefully checking dates on court and other paperwork.