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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS


In vehicles with rear passengers the two side passengers must have a three-point belt and the middle passenger at least a two-point belt.


It is an offence not to wear a seatbelt where they are required and fitted.


Any children in the vehicle must be in the correct car seat for their height/weight until their 12th birthday or until they reach 135cm, whichever comes first.


There are various exceptions to the wearing of a seatbelt, including: • a driver who is reversing, or supervis- ing a learner driver who is reversing;


• a person in a vehicle being used for police, fire and rescue services;


• a passenger in a trade vehicle inves- tigating a fault;


• driving a goods vehicle on deliveries that is travelling no more than 50 metres between stops;


• a licensed taxi driver who is plying for hire or carrying passengers;


• medical reasons (albeit this requires a certificate of exemption from seat- belt wearing from your Doctor – which must be carried at all times).


You must wear a seat belt if you’re preg- nant (unless there is a medical condition as above).


You must wear a seat belt if you’re a dis- abled driver or passenger (unless there is a medical condition as above).


LIGHTING All vehicles must have


two headlights


save motorbikes and certain old vehicles. They must switch on or off simultane- ously. They must be white or yellow.


All vehicles must have two rear position red lamps, and two rear position brake lamps.


The rear index plate must be illuminated.


The lights must remain illuminated dur- ing darkness or seriously reduced visibil- ity. “Serious reduced visibility” is not defined, and so is primarily a question of fact.


Most vehicles must also be fitted with fog lamps and reversing lamps.


FEBRUARY 2021


Improper use of lamps, for example to ‘flash’ a driver in annoyance or rage, is an offence.


PENALTIES Using a vehicle in a dangerous condition – This is where the defect in the vehicle could cause danger to any other road user or pedestrian. This carries three penalty points or a discretionary disqual- ification and up to a £2,500 fine in normal vehicles or an unlimited fine for goods and passenger vehicles. For a second of- fence within three years there is a manda- tory minimum six-month ban.


Breach of requirements as to brakes, steering or tyres - three penalty points or a discretionary disqualification. The of- fence also carries up to a £2,500 fine in normal vehicles and an unlimited fine for goods or passenger vehicles.


Breach of any construction and use re- quirements – no endorsement. Fine of up to £1,000 in standard vehicles and up to £2,500 in goods or passenger vehicles.


Breach of lighting requirements – no en- dorsement. Fine of up to £1,000 in stan- dard vehicles and up to £2,500 in goods or passenger vehicles.


Breach of seatbelt requirements – no en- dorsement. Fine of up to £1,000.


Usually these offences are dealt with by way of a Fixed Penalty offer of three points and a £100 fine, or a £100 fine only depending on what has been breached. The fixed penalty offer gives the driver the opportunity to accept the points/fine outside of Court or reject the offer and take the matter to Court (which, as above, could then risk higher fines).


Under section 28 of the Road Traffic Of- fenders Act 1988 the Court have the dis- cretion to impose points for only 1 offence if multiple offences were committed ‘on the same occasion’.


DEFENCES The first defence would be obvious, the vehicle was not in a dangerous condition or that the condition would not risk dan- ger of injury to any other person. Usually these defences are argued either by flatly denying the defect or suggesting that the defect itself was not dangerous. The indi- vidual defect would be examined on it’s own facts.


This would mean the driver rejecting any fixed penalty offer, taking the case to Court and pleading not guilty, thereby hav- ing a trial. It is highly advisable to take mul- tiple photographs of the alleged defect, and we would always consider getting an expert report (perhaps a mechanic or for- mer police vehicle examiner) to examine the defect and the level of danger it could cause.


If not, another way of dealing with this would be by way of a section 48 argu- ment to avoid points/disqualification. This applies to offences that carry penalty points only.


Section 48 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 states the Court must not en- dorse points or disqualify if “he proves that he did not know, and had no reason- able cause to suspect, that the use of the vehicle involved a danger of injury to any person.”


So here, the same as above, the driver would reject the fixed penalty and take the matter to Court, but instead plead guilty and then seek to argue under s.48 that they did not know or suspect the defect could cause injury. If success- ful, the Court may still impose a fine but simply no points or ban.


Simply being under MoT is not an auto- matic defence, but it may support either of the above arguments if the vehicle had recently had an MoT and the defect was not picked up.


If you need any advice on motoring matters please email: e.patterson@pattersonlaw.co.uk or call 01626 359 800 for FREE LEGAL ADVICE. For regular updates on road traffic law follow us on: facebook.com/PattersonLawMotoringSolicitors or twitter.com/Patterson_law_


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