The Law – UK DVLA Road Traffic Law
Driving Offences in the UK
The following is a fairly detailed description of the various UK Motoring Offences. This is a page for people who want to look at more detail, rather than basic elements of an offence. If you want to read more of a summary of the basic offence, then click on the tab above that has the heading Offences and pick the offence that you want to know more about in that list. You will then find a more simplistic description of the offence in question.
Section 82 Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 defines restricted roads. There is no need for signage if a road is automatically restricted to a 30mph limit by law.
A road is automatically restricted if there is a system of street lighting along it and the lights are not more than two hundred yards apart. The basis rule is that if there is signage then the signage takes precedence, if there is no signage but there is a system of street lighting then the light is automatically restricted.
The elements of a speeding offence
Section 89 of the Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984 states that a person who drives a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding the limit, is guilty of an offence.
Section 89 (2) states that a person cannot be convicted based solely on the evidence of one witness. In essence, this means that in order to be convicted of the speeding offence, the evidence must be corroborated. Evidence in relation to speeding offences can be corroborated in a variety of ways. The main way in which evidence is corroborated is with the use of a speed detection device. Don’t forget though that two Police Officers in theory can corroborate each other. Therefore, you could be convicted on the basis of the given evidence of two Police Officers.
Section 89 (4) is an interesting section that not many people know about. It states that an employer can be guilty of an offence is they ask an employee (professional driver) to undertake a journey on their behalf and in the course of their employment, and it would be impossible to complete the journey in the time scales allocated without speeding. Therefore, if your employers have unrealistic expectations in relation to your ability to perform particular driving jobs, then they may also be guilty of an offence.
Section 3 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988: Driving Without Due Care and Attention
The offence of driving without due care and attention requires the Crown Prosecution Service to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a motor vehicle was driven on a road without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other purse road users. If the Crown Prosecution Service establishes this offence beyond reasonable doubt then you will be liable for 3-9 penalty points or a discretionary ban. There will also be the risk of fines and Court costs.
Driving a Motor Vehicle Whilst the Proportion of Alcohol in your Breath Exceeds the Legal Limit
This is a very serious offence, carrying a mandatory driving ban. It is defined in Section 5 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. The offence carries driving or attempting to drive, or being in charge of a motor vehicle on a road or in a public place.
We deal with lots of drink driving cases where there is an argument as to whether or not where the offence happened was a road of a public place. We often win arguments at Court in relation to the location of the vehicle not being a public place.
If an individual is accused of being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst over the legal limit, that person will have a defence if he or she can show on the balance of probabilities (this means that it was more likely than not or so that the Court is 51% or more sure) that they would have not of driven whilst they were still over the legal limit.
Driving a Vehicle Without a MOT Certificate
It is illegal to drive a vehicle without a MOT certificate if the vehicle in question requires one.
Driving a motor vehicle without a MOT certificate carries fines. It is not an endorsable offence and therefore it does not carry penalty points or the risk of disqualification. However, if you drive a vehicle in an un-roadworthy condition and the Police believe the faults in relation to the brakes / lights / steering / tyres are serious or dangerous, you can be charged with a different offence, which carries penalty points and the risk of a ban. Therefore it is important to keep your vehicle in a roadworthy condition.
The offence of driving a motor vehicle without a MOT is covered by Section 47 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. Please remember that if you borrow a vehicle that doesn’t have a MOT certificate then you will be personally liable. You will not be able to blame the owner of the motor vehicle.
Driving Without an Appropriate Driving Licence – Section 87 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988
The basic wording of this offence is that a person must not drive a motor vehicle on a road if he doesn’t hold a relevant licence authorising him to do so. The licence has to have the correct entitlements for the vehicle in question.
Driving a Motor Vehicle Without a Policy of Insurance in Place
Section 143 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 covers the offence of driving a motor vehicle without insurance. This is an endorsable offence and carries the risk of 6-8 penalty points. There is a statutory defence to driving a motor vehicle without insurance under Section 143 (3) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. This states that if you are driving in the course of your employment and you believe you’re insured and the vehicle doesn’t belong to you then you will be found not guilty. You have to establish this defence on the balance of probabilities, i.e. so that the Court is 51% or more sure that the defence applies to the circumstances of your case.
Failing to Provide Driver Information / Name the Driver of the Motor Vehicle at the Time of an Alleged Offence
Section 172 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 outlines the offence of failing to provide driver information. It is a complicated offence and we spend a huge amount of our time defending people who have been unable to ascertain the driver at the time of an alleged offence.
The offence arises when a person has been asked to provide the identity after being required to do so by or on behalf of the Chief Officer of Police. The Police will normally ask the registered keeper of the vehicle to provide driver information, but they can in theory ask any person that they think may hold the information. Therefore if you are not the registered keeper but somebody else nominates you, you will then be sent a Section 172 request for driver information in your own rights.
Failing to provide driver information is an onerous offence that carries the risk of six penalty points and a hefty fine if convicted.
Using a Mobile Phone Whilst Driving
Section 110 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 states that it is an offence to drive a motor vehicle on a road whilst using a hand held mobile telephone. It is also an offence to cause or permit another person to drive on a road whilst using a handheld mobile telephone.
The legislation in relation to mobile phone cases is complex. There haven’t been many cases decided in the higher Courts so there is very little additional precedent. There are very few judicial precedents giving Solicitors guidance on how to interpret the legislation. In the past we have defended people who have been accused of using mobile phones when in fact they were using a two-way radio. The defence to using a mobile phone whilst driving is if it is an emergency call to the emergency services on 112 or 999. It is only a defence if it is not safe or practical for you to pull over before making the call. It is an offence to supervise a learner driver whilst using a mobile phone.
The legislation in relation to mobile phone cases is very complicated and often confused. One of the biggest areas of debate that we have with both clients and the Court relates to the various interactive functions that you have on a phone. A lot of the functions do not involve telecommunication, for example using an iPod on the phone or using the phone as a Dictaphone or to look at the clock.
It is our view that using a mobile phone satnav device without having the phone in the hands free kit does constitute as an offence. If you have been accused of any of these offences and you want to have a more in depth discussion about the specifics of your particular case then please contact us or call in for a free initial advice call.
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