There has been much ado in the press about police forces undertaking random eyesight checks on motorists and revoking licences at the roadside. So, what are their powers?
Can the police stop me?
Under section 163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 a police officer in uniform has the power to require a driver of a vehicle on a road to stop. It is an offence to fail to comply with such a request.
Does the officer have to be in uniform?
To use this power the officer has to be in uniform. (There is a widely-held belief that if an officer is not wearing a helmet they are not in uniform is not correct). There is a common law power, however, for an officer not in uniform to request a vehicle to stop although there would be no penalty for failing to comply.
What is the law about vision and driving?
You must be able to read a registration plate from 20 metres (approximately five car lengths). It is an offence to drive with uncorrected defective eyesight.
Can the police ask me to do a roadside eye test?
You could be asked to undertake the test voluntarily. Otherwise, there must be a suspicion that you may be guilty of driving when you cannot comply with the vision test requirement. If the officer does suspect, you can be required to submit to a test.
Section 96 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides this power. The test can be carried out between 8am and 9pm, only in daylight.
What if I refuse to do the test?
If the officer has a reasonable suspicion that you have been driving while your eyesight is such that you could not pass the test and you refuse to do so, you are committing an offence.
What could happen?
Failing to stop for a police officer, under section 163, can be punished by a fine.
Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight or refusing to submit to a test of vision carries a fine, discretionary disqualification and an obligatory endorsement of three penalty points.
What about my licence, can it be revoked?
If you fail a vision test at the roadside, or fail to comply, the police can immediately report this fact to the DVLA.
There is a fast track system whereby a decision to revoke your licence can quickly be made, such a decision taking place within hours. Once your licence is revoked, it will be not be returned until you can demonstrate that your eyesight meets the required standard.
Your licence being revoked will not prevent a prosecution for the offences outlined above.
Why is this in the news?
The power for fast-track revocation has existed since 2013. The power is now being widely reported as three police forces have announced their intention to undertake such checks at the roadside, this may be extended nationwide.
Based on a study by the Association of Optometrists it is estimated that some 1 million people in the UK are driving illegally. RSA Insurance estimates that eyesight problems cause nearly 3000 casualties per year on the UK roads.
The police forces involved in the initiative have said that they will be gathering data as to the extent of any issues. Potentially, this could lead to a further mandatory vision test at some stage after the practical driving test.
What can we do to help?
We are experts in road traffic law and can advise you if you are facing investigation or prosecution. To discuss any aspect of your case, please call John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email, email@example.com
From June 4th, learner drivers are to be allowed to drive on the motorway. This is to encourage learner drivers to develop an understanding of how to drive on roads that are vastly different from the urban environment that most people learn to drive in.
There will be conditions attached though. Unlike non-motorway roads, where a learner must simply be supervised by someone aged over 21 who has held a full driving licence for at least three years, a learner on the motorway will have to be supervised by a qualified driving instructor, and be driving a dual control car.
There are no plans to introduce motorway driving into the driving test, and it will be left to the instructor and the learner to decide if they want to take advantage of this change.
Younger, inexperienced drivers are significantly more likely to be killed or seriously injured whilst driving than older drivers, and it is to be hoped that providing learner drivers with motorway experience may help reduce those numbers.
In other driving news, more than 26,000 motorists have been caught using a handheld mobile phone while driving in the first year since harsher penalties came into force.
Among these are 500 novice drivers who have had their licences revoked for using their phone behind the wheel in their first 2 years of driving. Drivers who acquire 6 penalty points in their first two years of driving have their licence revoked and have to retake their test.
On 1 March 2017, the penalties for this offence doubled from £100 and 3 penalty points to £200 and 6 points.”
If you have a query about a driving offence or matter, please contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or firstname.lastname@example.orgRead More
In some instances, it is possible to apply to a court and ask that a driving disqualification is ended early.
Therefore, if your circumstances have changed since being disqualified, it is worth discussing with one of our criminal law specialists whether or not you can take advantage of this legal provision.
What are the rules?
You can ask the court to reduce your disqualification period after you’ve been banned from driving for:
– 2 years – if the disqualification was for more than 2 but fewer than 4 years
– Half the disqualification period – if it was for between 4 and 10 years
– 5 years – if the disqualification was for 10 years or more
We are often asked by clients who have been disqualified for a second drink-driving offence whether they too can apply. The answer to that is yes, although the application will be complicated as the High Court has stated:
“I would only add that justices … may if they think fit regard a mandatory disqualification as one which they are somewhat less ready to remove than a discretionary disqualification.”
But it will depend, as always, on the individual circumstances of the case, in Boliston v Gibbons (1995) for example the High Court showed itself to be very sympathetic to the applicant’s plight.
What are the criteria?
The law states that:
“On any such application the court may, as it thinks proper having regard to—
(a) the character of the person disqualified and his conduct subsequent to the order,
(b) the nature of the offence, and
(c) any other circumstances of the case, either by order remove the disqualification as from such date as may be specified in the order or refuse the application.”
In essence, what needs to be established is that there is some compelling reason why the ban should be brought to an end, such examples include employment opportunities, reliance on a vehicle for caring responsibilities, personal immobility etc.
Will the application be opposed?
It is very rare for an application not to be opposed, so we work incredibly hard to ensure that an impressive argument is put before the court.
Merely turning up and throwing yourself on the mercy of a court is unlikely to result in a return of your driving licence.
If the application is refused, can I make a further application?
Yes, you can re-apply again but must wait at least three months from the date of refusal.
How we can help
We can assist in preparing and presenting your application to the court. Our experienced team have significant advocacy expertise when it comes to driving offences, and are best placed to secure the return of your driving licence.
Is legal aid available?
Legal aid may be available subject to a means test. Private representation is available at competitive rates.
Contact John Howey on 020 7388 1658 or email@example.com to arrange an appointment.
As we put Halloween and Bonfire Night behind us, easing into those dark wintry nights, it isn’t long before Christmas is in our sights and party season gets underway.
As night follows day, this time also coincides with a national police initiative concerning drink driving, as forces across the country prepare for a spike in the numbers of those tested and arrested for drink and drug driving offences.
While these offences may not seem particularly serious when viewed against other offences, what is not often understood is the real impact that a conviction can have.
Research shows that loss of a licence leads in a great many cases to loss of employment, in turn to loss of housing as bills cannot be paid, and sometimes it is the final straw that breaks a relationship. The financial costs will be felt for many years thereafter as insurance premiums will be greatly increased.What we also see is that a great many people come before the courts with alcohol readings that are not high, and where offences have been detected the ‘morning after’. Offences that can be said to have been committed perhaps more out of ignorance than a wilful disregard for others.
A single error of judgment with devastating consequences.
What is a safe level of drinking if I propose to drive?
No alcohol is the safest level as it ensures that when you get behind the wheel, your reactions are not impaired to any degree at all.
Crucially it also prevents the guesswork that brings so many people before the courts.
Urban myths such as ‘2 pints are ok’ have long since been proved to be false, as have back of the envelope guesses as to how long it takes alcohol to leave the body.
Different people will deal with alcohol in different ways, and even this can vary for a single person depending on a multitude of factors. The alcoholic content of drinks is generally greater nowadays, and measures of, for example wine, bigger than before.
Merely feeling OK to drive is not a reliable indicator as to whether you are below the legal limit or not.
As we get merry, we reach a tipping point; we can make foolish choices that will prove costly, sometimes not just measured in financial terms but in injury and even loss of life.
You do not hear a lawyer say this often – but we do not wish to see you this Christmas.
Think, before you drink and drive.
How we can assist
If you do find yourself in trouble, there is a lot we can do to assist.
The police must follow complex procedures to establish a case against you – we can ensure that this has been done.
We can also investigate issues such as ‘laced drinks’ and ‘special reasons’.
Well-presented mitigation can make a real difference to the outcome and even where a disqualification cannot be avoided, we can often achieve a reduction in length.