At Motoring Defence Solicitors, we provide free advice to help any motorist who find themselves in a quandary. Below are some frequently asked questions that you might find useful for future reference.
If I am stopped by a police officer for speeding, but give him a slightly incorrect address so the summons doesn’t reach me, is this loophole I can use in my defence?
Not receiving a summons (for whatever reason) would do little more than slightly delay proceedings. A summons does not necessarily demand your attendance in court, and your conviction or sentence can still be imposed in your absence, depending on the seriousness of the speeding.
However, if you didn’t receive a summons because you’ve given false information to the police, then this could land you in even more trouble as it could amount to perverting the course of justice, for which you could be sent to prison for.
If the car registration number on the summons is a digit wrong, is this a loophole I can use?
The short answer to this question is no. S.123 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 basically says that a summons can be amended during the proceedings to correct this kind of mistake, so the incorrect digit would not provide a “loophole” for such an offence.
I have been told it isn’t illegal to drink alcohol and ride a bicycle on a public road. Is this true?
The Licensing Act 1872 makes it an offence to be drunk in charge of a bicycle (or any other vehicle or carriage, or cattle) on a highway or in a public place, but this old law also forbids any public drunkenness – even in a pub – so is rarely enforced.
In law, a bicycle is a “carriage for use on the highway” but cyclists are not in charge of “mechanically propelled” vehicles so do not have to adhere to the same drink drive rules as motorists.
Section 30 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence for a person to ride a cycle when unfit to ride through drink or drugs. “Road” in the above bit of legislation includes a bridleway so you can’t ride “off road” without risk.
In summary, if you ride drunk, you risk endangering yourself and possibly others by your actions. And, as stated above, cycling ‘dangerously’ can result in a hefty fine of up to £2,500!
I have received a notice of intended prosecution, but am already on nine points. Can I let my wife take the points for me, so I don’t tot up and receive a driving ban?
Letting somebody else take your points is more common than some may think, but doing this can potentially be a huge risk. Providing false information may amount to perverting the course of justice and there have been some rather high-profile cases in the news over the years (such as Labour MP, Fiona Onasanya late last year). This offence carries a mandatory prison sentence, so even though (in most cases) the deception is never discovered, is it really worth taking the risk?
What’s the right thing to do if I am at a red light, but there is an ambulance on blue lights behind me?
The answer to this question is not specifically related to being at a red light, but all sorts of circumstances. With this particular example, however, crossing the stop line when the light is red will mean you commit an offence of contravening a red light. You should try (and it is not always possible) to manoeuvre to the side of the road without crossing the line, as it is there for the safety of other road users, and this brings us to the essence of the answer. This is very much a Highway Code issue, which states that you should look and listen for emergency vehicles, but also consider the route of said vehicle and “take appropriate action” to let it pass, whilst complying with all traffic signs etc. It stresses that you should not endanger yourself or other road users, so (for example) you should try and not stop on a roundabout, as this would cause particular risks to other motorists due to the restricted view. The same applies for stopping before the top of a hill, a bend or narrow road.
Motoring Defence Solicitors are road traffic lawyers specialising in drink and drug driving offences. Based out of their central London offices, they provide free advice on a range of offences to motorists nationwide. You can contact Neil Sargeant for free on 0800 433 2880 or visit the website at www.drinkdrugdriving.co.uk.