Motorcycle speeding case
Blake Morgan was consulted by a client regarding a summons issued at the request of Sussex Police returnable before Chichester Magistrates' Court. The summons alleged one count of speeding. The officer who conducted the speed check was riding an unmarked police motorcycle and was not in uniform. Our client was riding a motorcycle east along the A27 heading towards Chichester. The section of road was a dual carriageway subject to the national 70 mph speed limit for cars and motorcycles.
The police motorcycle was equipped with a Police Pilot speed measuring device. The officer conducted three separate speed checks over a period of one minute. The first recorded the client's motorcycle travelling at 94 mph, the second recorded 114 mph and the third produced 121 mph.
Barry Culshaw, a consultant with Blake Morgan's Driver defence team, instructed an expert to analyse the speed checks as they were visually recorded by the speed measuring equipment. It was evident that during the process of all three checks the separation distance between the motorcycle and the unmarked police patrol motorcycle reduced. Following the checks the officer continued to follow the motorcycle for a further three minutes over a distance of approximately five miles. In that time and over that distance a total of four lay-bys were passed and a roundabout was negotiated, providing the officer with more than sufficient opportunity to stop the motorcycle in safety had he been in a position to do so. However, the officer was precluded from stopping the motorcycle as he was not in uniform. The officer's attempts to summon a uniformed officer to the scene failed and our client was not stopped on the date of the speed check. A subsequent notice of intended prosecution and request for driver details served by the officer resulted in him identifying himself as the rider of the motorcycle at the material time.
The matter came for trial before District Judge Nichols at Chichester Magistrates' Court, who considered a preliminary point as to whether the request for driver details was lawful as it did not stipulate that the officer was authorised for and on behalf of the Chief Officer of Police. However, having heard evidence from the officer the District Judge ruled that he was satisfied that the officer did have the appropriate authorisation and that the request was lawful. A speed of 114 mph was agreed for the purposes of sentence. Our client was an HGV driver and stood to lose his employment in the event of a lengthy period of disqualification. However, the District Judge having heard of various mitigating factors decided to impose a fine of £250 and a period of disqualification from driving of only seven days. This resulted in him being able to retain his job.
Both the expert instructed and Blake Morgan expressed concern at the style of speed enforcement adopted in this case, which would appear to constitute nothing short of the employment of stealth tactics.
Barry commented: "Far from contributing to road safety, such measures had the potential to compromise road safety. It is evident that had the officer been in uniform he would have had ample opportunity to stop the motorcycle being ridden by our client and would therefore have prevented its continued use at progressively increasing speeds."