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In this month’s edition we feature more road traffic issues relevant to the trade supplied by Patterson Law. These questions are based on real enquiries that we have received from professional drivers this month. If you need any advice on motoring matters please email e.patterson@pattersonlaw.co.uk or call 01626 359800 for free legal advice. For regular updates on road traffic law follow us on facebook.com/PattersonLawMotoringSolicitors or twitter.com/Patterson_law_


Q A


KNOW YOUR RIGHTS Q


I was stopped for using my phone while driving in January last year. I was sat in traffic and I admit that I was looking at my phone, but I wasn’t holding it. It was resting on my lap at the time. I missed the lights ahead of me turning green and a police offi-


cer walked over and issued me a ticket. I got a summons to court, and I pleaded not guilty. I now have a trial coming up. I was supposed to be in last year, but it was adjourned due to coronavirus. I’m now worried that the change in law means that I might be found guilty. Can you help?


Don’t worry, the law hasn’t changed yet. And even if it did, it would only be for offences moving forward. A change in the law does not have retrospective effect.


Your case seems to be on the basis that the phone was not handheld. As the law currently stands, to commit an offence the phone must be held in your hand, even if you accept using it. If it was resting on your lap, then that is not an offence. I would like to make representations to the prosecution service to try to persuade them to withdraw the case. We can have those negotiations behind the scenes and try to stop the matter from going to trial.


However, I am concerned that the prosecution may try to amend the charge. Even though you were not using a hand- held phone whilst driving, there is an offence of ‘not being in proper control’, where all the prosecution must show is that you were not in full control of your vehicle or you did not have a full view of the traffic ahead. They may well make an application to amend the charge at the hearing. If they do, we will oppose. They ought to make any such applications within six months and are well outside of that time, and we would argue that this case is not exceptional enough to allow them to do it.


In my opinion I believe this may turn into a legal battle with the prosecution about applications to amend. You will need a solicitor to make those arguments for you. They are complicated. Call us so we can get to work straight away.


84 A


I was caught speeding by an undercover police car. I feel angry about this. She was just following me for ages and I didn’t even know it was a police car. When she pulled me over they hadn’t even record- ed my speed properly, just followed me and said


that I was going at 40 in a 30. Are they even allowed to do that? I thought that it had to be a camera or a speed gun that caught you. Also, the road is two lanes and to me it looks like a 40 limit. I don’t think there are any signs but how do I know that it’s a 30?


A 30mph limit is denoted in a built-up area by a system of street lighting in place no more than 200 yards apart. 20, 40 and 50 limits are noted by signs. If there are no streetlights or signs, it is usually either a national speed limit or 70 if a motorway.


Call me so that we can have a look at the road and what is in place – whether it be signs, streetlights or a national speed limit.


Regarding the method by which they have recorded your speed, it sounds very much like a follow check. There are several ways that the police can record a vehicle’s speed, and speed guns/cameras is just one of them. A follow check is a recognised method that the police use where they maintain an even distance behind the rear of your vehicle for a minimum of 2/10 of a mile.


The police do have guidelines which they have to follow, and although not following the guidelines in the strictest terms is not automatically a defence, if they have not followed their guidelines properly then we may be able to cast some doubt on the accuracy of the speed. I would also like to have a look at whether 40mph was the speed at which they had to travel to catch you up, and not the actual speed at which you were travelling.


If you are at court already, we need to request a copy of the evidence urgently so that we can go through it with a fine-toothed comb and determine exactly how accurate their check was.


If you are not at court, then to get this evidence we will need to reject any fixed penalty or speed awareness course you have been offered to get the matter to court, and then get the evidence.


Q


I was stopped for drink driving last week when I was going to the shops. I fully accept that I was above the limit and I truly regret what I have done. It is very out of character for me. My reading was 43 in breath. I don’t think it’s that high. But I have read


online that you can argue exceptional hardship to avoid a ban. Is this something you can help with?


APRIL 2021


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