Wilfully Obstructing The Police – Arghhhh!



I was trying to turn right off the Ax at x to get home. The road signs indicated a right turn across the dual carriageway lay ahead. I was traveling at 50mph as there were speed restrictions due to road works. I indicated and pulled out into the fast lane.

As I arrived at the right turn feed lane to the gap I was panicked to find it was coned off without any warning leaving me slowing in heavy fast lane traffic. I instinctively immediately accelerated out of danger. The camera is fixed at this point because it is known as a danger spot even without the dangerously misleading signs.

In 2.8 seconds I was doing 65mph as I accelerated out of the potentially dangerous position I had been put in.

I wanted to plead not guilty but when the form arrived requesting the name of the driver it asked for the name of the driver “at the time of the offence” not the “alleged” offence .

I felt I could not possibly sign and agree there had been an offence if I wanted to plead not guilty so I rang up the Grimsby Ticket office and they said if I did not fill in the form I would be charged with a much more serious offence with higher fines and penalty points.

I asked to be referred to a supervisor who confirmed the serious penalties for refusing to admit I was the driver at the time of the offence, so I was forced under protest to immediately fax my ticked form effectively acknowledging an offence had been committed whilst I was driving.

As I was moving into a new built house within two weeks and the post office did not have my new address and the new house did not have a post box I gave the officer my x solicitors details and my home address in x where I spend two weeks every month through my business. I was charged with wilfully obstructing the police.

This was changed on the day of the hearing, (despite my strong objection), to wilfully obstructing a police investigating officer.

I advised the court three times that I would be appealing on several grounds and I was warned by the Clerk that I was being disrespectful to the court, before they found me guilty of speeding (the magistrate said he could see no lorries in the camera picture) and wilfully obstructing an investigating officer (the magistrate said I could have had the form sent to my office (which did not have a mailing address because it is in a barn down a farm lane).

My local x solicitor said he did not know the law on coned off right turns or on the matter of saying alleged offence instead of offence so asked to be excused representing me 30 minutes before the trial. I unsuccessfully asked for an adjournment. One key witness from the Ticket Office I had insisted attended the trial did not turn up.

I wanted to cross question the two officers to prove I had been co-operative and they had been unreasonable and acted illegally in demanding I complete the form. One officer gave evidence to the court that five credit cards were still registered to an old address he claimed was my current address.

I had sold it three years before but had long stopped using the cards. I did not provide the temporary address I was in whilst I built my new house as I knew the police would try and serve a summons on the replacement tenant.

I have always intended appealing and have requested the forms from the court to appeal out of time but I was given serious financial problems as a property developer with three unsold houses when my bank withdrew all house developers facilities when they got into trouble themselves. The third house was sold recently and I hope I may now be able to afford to clear my name.

The offence was in x 2008 and the court hearing was in x 2009. Is there clear law that covers such highway acts as coning off indicated right turns without prior warning signs. I have been unable to obtain definitive advice on the legality of being asked to provide the name of the driver at the time of an offence when no offence has been proved. The Clerk of the Court said it was for me to prove it is illegal.

Dominic says:

I’m afraid that the reason you give for speeding would not have amounted to a defence. If the speed limit for the road was 50 mph then the court will not accept that it was reasonable for you to speed up to 65 mph. The court will work on the assumption that the cars coming up behind you would have been traveling at 50 mph.

Speeding is a strict liability offence and therefore simply stating I panicked or I did not mean to speed will not amount to a defence. The only possible defence would have been to cast a doubt on the suggestion that you were speeding.

The request to provide information as to the driver at the time of an “alleged offence” is not a request for a confession. You can name the driver and then still plead not guilty to the speeding allegation. The request for driver information has been considered repeatedly by the European Court of Human Rights and every attempt to challenge its wording or legitimacy has failed miserably.

If you had refused to provide the information the court would have found you guilty and would have formed the view that your response was pedantic and not a defence.

I cannot respond to the allegation of wilfully obstructing the police – I suspect there is a lot more to it than simply giving two different addresses. I suspect the court took the view that you were deliberately evasive in not providing your address in the UK and only providing your address in Portugal.

The police are entitled under s.172 to require you to provide your contact details in full and giving your solicitors address would not be sufficient.

Its a shame that your solicitor did not understand the law on coned off lay-bys or in relation to the request for information referring to an actual offence rather than an alleged offence, but as indicated above the request for information was perfectly legitimate and the argument over the coned off lay-by would not amount to a defence to the speeding matter.

Therefore neither of these arguments would be good grounds for appeal. In any event the legitimacy of the request for information was no longer relevant as you had not been charged with failing to provide information and you had seemingly responded by giving your details.

You have no chance of getting leave to appeal so long after the date of conviction. It is sometimes possible up to a month or two after the event if you have good reasons for the delay.

I’m afraid you have got the law in these areas very confused and you have not had good advice. If they ask for the information and you know who was driving you have to give it in full. If you don’t or if you are obstructive you render yourself liable for further offence and the only defence to speeding is to show that you weren’t.

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