Q I have recently moved onto a new build housing estate which is still under construction, along with friends who have moved onto the same estate and live around 300 metres away. On my way out recently, I jumped in the car without putting on my seatbelt as I had something to drop off for them, but was spotted by a police officer driving through the estate and given a fine. I was under the impression the roads within the estate were still classed as private because they wonít be under local council control until the builder moves off the site. Do I have any grounds to contest the fixed penalty that I was given?
A It is an offence to drive or ride in a motor vehicle in contravention of the seat belt regulations. Neither the primary statute or the regulations made under it make any mention of where the driving or riding in the vehicle takes place.
Many motoring offences specify that the offence occurs only when driving on a road or other public place. Your estate roads would probably be regarded as roads even though not adopted by the Council yet, as they are probably roads to which the public has access. However, we do not need to be certain about that in the case of seat belts, as the offence does not require that driving has to have taken place on a road or other public place.
Offences that do have this requirement are intended for the protection of other road users, such as in the case of drink driving and speeding, but seat belt legislation is intended to protect the driver and passengers in the vehicle being driven, so it is logical that the offence does not require that the vehicle was being driven on a road or other public place. If you crash into a tree, there could be grave consequences, regardless of whether the tree was on a public road or not. The offence does not carry penalty points and is punishable by a fine.