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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 63896
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice.
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hi there, i have been sent a court summons for exceeding 70mph

Resolved Question:

hi there, i have been sent a court summons for exceeding 70mph on a motorway, and when i was pulled over i was told by the two officers that they had to do 150mph to catch me up and they said i was doing 110mph, is this acceptable evidence to say i could have been doing this speed? i was doing about 95mph
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: UK Traffic Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 9 months ago.

Jo C. :

Hi Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX X will try to help with this.

Jo C. :

Is there any reason you think they could not rely on it?

Customer: Yes because they where in a unmarked police car in the first lane when I went past them, I could see them approaching me in the distance and had a feeling it might be a police car and had slowed down before they got to me and I would of thought they would need to stay behind me to get a average speed
Jo C. :

I'm not sure what point you are hoping to take? Sorry if I'm missing the point?

Jo C. :

If the issue is that they were in unmarked car then that is no defence.

Jo C. :

Speeding is a crime like any other. Its not a very serious crime and it has no impact on your character but its a crime.

Jo C. :

The police do not have to advertise their presence to detect crime. Thats why we have plain clothes police officers.

Jo C. :

To take an extreme example, if test purchase officers had to wear police uniform they would never catch any drug dealers which wouldn't be very useful.

Jo C. :

If your concern is the reliability of their view, then that is different.

Customer: I understand your point but the point I'm making is how can they say I was doing 110mph without being behind me to get a correct speed
Jo C. :

It depends whether this is a VASCAR car or not.

Jo C. :

Its probably not a VASCAR fitted car. They use those generally for marked police cars.

Jo C. :

Probably their measurement is just that they are saying that they travelled alongside or behind you and their own speedometer read 110mph or something similar.

Jo C. :

It is fair to say that this method of measuring speed isn't the most accurate.

Jo C. :

They don't need to travel directly behind though.

Jo C. :

There just needs to be evidence that they travelled at a similar speed.

Jo C. :

Everybody accepts that with this method of detection it is an approximation which is why you have to be substantially over the limit before you face prosecution.

Customer: Could I plead guilty by post to doing 95mph
Jo C. :

There is no point in pleading not guilty though because you do accept speeding.

Jo C. :

No, its not suitable for a postal plea.

Jo C. :

You need to attend court and offer a plea on a basis that you were doing 95mph.

Jo C. :

That actually might be accepted. Police pursuit speeding measurements are not as reliable as devices.

Jo C. :

If it isn't accepted then the Court will have to decide whether it would make a material difference to sentence.

Jo C. :

Magistrates lives in a world of their own really and you never know which way that would go.

Jo C. :

The right answer is that it would because 95 mph is in a different bracket from 110 mph.

Jo C. :

That said, Magistrates quite regularly arrive at the wrong decision so they might just accept it.

Customer: So would that 110mph stick on the day
Jo C. :

If they don't accept it then they should hold a Newton hearing where they hear both versions of events and decide which they prefer.

Jo C. :

Again, Magistrates are generally biased in favour of the Crown outrageously.

Jo C. :

However, people do sometimes win road traffic trials even when the evidence comes from officers.

Jo C. :

This type of case is one that can always be done politely by suggesting the officers are mistaken. They will deny that but at least you don't have to call them liars.

Jo C. :

Given that its only 15mph overall I think I would probably run it.

Jo C. :

The risk is that if you lose then you would lose credit for a guilty plea but that doesn't amount to much anyway when the only sentence is a fine.

Jo C. :

The real risk is costs which could run into between £300-£600.

Jo C. :

Obviously 110 mph places you at risk of a short ban.

Jo C. :

95 mph does too but its less likely.

Customer: I believe that it all comes down to how long they took to get out the first lane to get behind me as that would cause them to do a higher speed to catch up
Jo C. :

You might actually find that the charge sheet just indicts speeding anyway.

Jo C. :

rather than setting down a specific speed.

Jo C. :

No, that wouldn't make much difference.

Jo C. :

You can see the point they are making but its just not a proper scientific calculation.

Customer: oh right I should just wait until the day then and see what evidence they do have
Jo C. :

It gives rise to an inference but they have to do more than that.

Jo C. :

I would attend on the day.

Jo C. :

Its not suitable for a post plea really.

Jo C. :

make an offer to the prosecution that you will plead to speeding on the basis that it was 95mph.

Jo C. :

Its always possible that you will meet with a prosecutor like me who has better things to do than persecute people and it will be accepted.

Jo C. :

It is also possible that you will meet with a prosecutor who does enjoy persecuting people as well and they will refuse.

Jo C. :

If so, you just tell the clerk you will plead guilty on that basis and it will be for the court to decide whether or not it would make a material difference to sentence.

Customer: Oh right it all depends on the day then
Jo C. :

You might actually get away with it basically because nobody likes doing Newton hearings.

Jo C. :

Yes, attend and negotiate.

Jo C. :

I suppose you could write to CPS offering this in advance but if you got a reply from them I would eat my wig!

Customer: With the prosecuter
Jo C. :

Letters just disappear into a black hole at the moment.

Jo C. :

Yes, prosecutor first.

Jo C. :

The clerk will help with this though.

Customer: do I have to ask for them when I get there
Jo C. :

Book in with the usher and explain you need to talk to the clerk.

Jo C. :

Clerks are generally quite helpful to lay people

Jo C. :

As a rule they enjoy the experience basically because many of them have elevated themselves to the position of a judge in their head.

Jo C. :

They will approach the prosecutor.

Jo C. :

A helpful prosecutor will speak to you directly.

Customer: I hope I get one of them
Jo C. :

They are instructing the Bar a lot more now.

Jo C. :

A few years ago they kept everything in house and it was then that you met with the zealots.

Jo C. :

Now generally the Magistrates Court is prosecuted by more sensible people.

Customer: so if I just imply that the officers have made a mistake in recording my speed might work
Jo C. :

Although unfortunately any decision has to be run past an in house zealot but there are ways around that.

Jo C. :

I wouldn't comment in those negotiations upon the evidence of the officer.

Jo C. :

If it gets to Newton hearing you will have to put something but you are saying basically mistake.

Jo C. :

You just run it on the basis that they can't be sure.

Jo C. :

Didn't travel directly behind, not for long, busy traffic, you might have made a mistake.

Jo C. :

etc

Customer: ok
Jo C. :

You might well find it easier than you think.

Jo C. :

Police pursuit speeding detection is not the most reliable

Customer: They have no video evidence either
Jo C. :

No, they won't. Unmarked cars are not fitted with VASCARS.

Jo C. :

VASCARs would need a longer chase to gather evidence anyway.

Customer: Oh and on my speeding ticket they asked if I had anything to say and I said "I did not exceed 100mph"
Customer: Will that count towards anything
Jo C. :

They cannot use your reply to caution against you then as it doesn't involve an admission.

Customer: So it irrelevant then
Jo C. :

No, its better than an admission.

Jo C. :

Its generally thought useful where a defence responds to caution in a way that is consistent with the defence raised in court because it rebuts any suggestion that he has made it up afterwards.

Customer: You reckon I could avoid a ban as I also a lorry driver
Jo C. :

Obviously its not incontrovertible but its helpful.

Jo C. :

At 110 you will be lucky but at 95 you probably would.

Jo C. :

They don't ban people lightly.

Jo C. :

110 is right at the end of the highest sentencing bracket and so realistically they would be looking at a ban.

Jo C. :

There are other aggravating features though that are not present here - 70 mph zone so fewer vulnerable road users.

Jo C. :

Also, you can emphasise the shortness of any distance driven at speed, the absence of heavy traffic, clear weather conditions etc.

Customer: Ok that's been a lot of help
Jo C. :

No problem and all the best. Please remember to rate my answer. Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’.

Jo C., Barrister
Category: UK Traffic Law
Satisfied Customers: 63896
Experience: Over 5 years in practice.
Jo C. and other UK Traffic Law Specialists are ready to help you

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