I was stopped today x for driving at 58 in a 30. While I appreciate that some sort of fine and points is certain, I am concerned with what may happen and that there are mitigating circumstances which may help my case as the officer said he would report the matter and not issue a fixed penalty.
Firstly the road. I use the road rarely and when I last drove the road it was a 40mph limit. When stopped I was informed it was a 30mph limit. I later checked the signage in detail. From my direction of travel there were two ‘New 30mph limit in force’ signs, one obscured by a tree, on the separate joining road which was an existing and marked 30 limit.
This single carriageway road ends at a roundabout, which turns both left and right. I turned left onto the road in question which becomes a dual carriageway with a kerbed separator between the two directions of travel. There are no 30mph signs visible when joining this road.
The road does not have facing housing on it and some of its length has farmland at the side. There are school buildings on one side of the road, however these do not have gates onto this road and the only indication that these are school buildings is a small sign giving the name of the school in a novelty font with a child’s drawing, not a sign even close to the highway code standard.
Half way along the road there is a sign post which appears to be of the solar powered light up speed warning type. This sign was covered with a roads department canvas cover completely obscuring it. The police officers were at the end of this section of road, 30 paces from where the roads first limit sign appears, saying 40mph.
The officers were on foot with no patrol car to be seen. There are no speed trap warning signs on this road from my direction of travel.
Later in the day while returning on the same road at 30mph I was the slowest vehicle on the road and was overtaken by every vehicle approaching me from the rear, suggesting to me that the limit was set far below the speed which was felt suitable by the average sensible driver.
I have done some research and it appears that the limit was changed in February this year.
The only sign indicating the change in the roads limit exists on an approaching road, with no indication of where this change occurs. The road the sign is on a marked 30, which makes the intent of this sign confusing.
When joining the dual carriageway there are no signs indicating the new limit, which appears very low compared to similar roads both in the area and nationally.
The only sign giving the speed limit has been intentionally covered by the local council.
I have photographs of the lack of signage and the obscured ones which did exist.
My second complaint is with the manner in which I was stopped.
I was using the dual carriageway as an opportunity to overtake a HGV which was being driven erratically, hence the rate at which I passed it. The two officers were hidden behind a bush and had used their laser device through the leaves. One officer ran out in front of my vehicle and indicated for me to stop.
I stopped the vehicle in a controlled manner, not consistent with an accusation of careless driving, and stopped where indicated to. The officer made me stop in one of the roads live traffic lanes, with no space to pull off the road. Vehicles behind were forced to stop while trying to move around my car, causing both congestion and danger to other road users and myself.
I was only instructed to leave the vehicle after a few minutes and putting on the hazard warning lights on was left to my own initiative, which since there was no patrol car with flashing lights and it is not a road which one would expect to ever find a parked car. I would suggest that this should have been the first thing I was asked to do in the interests of safety.
The cautioning officer was both confrontational and aggressive and did not in my opinion behave in a professional manner as I was as polite and helpful to him as possible. He made numerous personal comments which some people may have taken offence at.
While I believed that the office gave the caution correctly I requested a copy of the ticket or other information regarding the incident, such as the officers contact details, I was told that I ‘wasn’t getting anything like that today’ and was told then to move on. I asked what action would be taken and I was told that I would be sent a letter.
No other useful information was given on likely charges, despite specific questioning. The other officer present did nothing but show me his laser gun and verbally tell me it had been calibrated that morning.
I have two main questions; firstly as I was not given a clear indication of what he was going to report me for am I correct in assuming it will be for careless driving? What would the likely outcome of this be and would I have to attend court or do I have the option to plead guilty by post?
Secondly I appreciate that I would have been given a fixed penalty notice for the speed under the old limit and had signage been clear of the new low limit I would have been in the careless driving bracket now. However the signage was in my opinion inadequate and intentionally obscured so it took significant study on foot to assess what exactly was its intended meaning.
I am also concerned that the police officer did not behave in an entirely professional manner by both being rude and giving no consideration both mine and other road users safety.
Are these sufficient mitigating circumstances to have a careless driving charge reduced to a 3 point 60 pound fine fixed penalty type charge with representation? What is the likely success of contesting these issues? Would I have to attend court if I chose to contest the charge on these issues? What would be the likely outcome If I chose to contest the charge and failed?
Thank you in advance for considering this situation,
Have you been warned regarding speeding or driving without due care and attention? If you have been warned for due care then the signage issues will be irrelevant.
If you have been warned for speeding then the signage issues are highly relevant. The signs must be visible to be enforceable. If there is a system of street lighting in place the there is no need for signs if the street lights are less than 200 yds apart.
There is no legal requirement for speed trap warning signs and the absence of then will not afford you a defence I’m afraid.
The speed is very high and according to the magistrates sentencing guidelines if you get summons to court you will be at risk of a discretionary ban I’m afraid.
Officer’s can hide behind a bush if they so chose and again this will not amount to a defence I’m afraid. The court will simply be interested in the reliability and the accuracy of the speed readings and the signage.
You are going to be summonsed to court and this is why the officer’s didn’t give you anything in writing at the scene. They have up to 6 months to summons you but you should get it within the next month or so.
The officer’s were very angry by the sound of it and they will be pushing the court to ban you so approach this case with caution.
You will have to attend court because the combination of the speed and the due care allegation will mean that you are at serious risk of a ban. The court will not normally ban you without you being present.
You are not going to get 3 points and a £60 fine for this matter because even if they drop the due care the speed will take it to court and make you at risk of a ban. You are at the top of the magistrates sentencing guidelines for the 30mph limit.
With early representation our best hope would be to get the police to let you do the driver improvement course as an alternative to the due care and attention charge. This would be the risk of points/a ban would be eliminated – but it wont be easy because of the aggravating issue of the speed. It would be worth a try.