Motorcycle speeding defence
Blake Morgan's Motoring Offences Team acted for client who was facing an allegation of speeding at Weymouth Magistrates' Court.
The prosecution was brought by Dorset Constabulary. The court was considering disqualifying our client, Mr B from driving as he was alleged to have been riding a motorcycle on a section of dual carriageway subject to a speed limit of 70 mph. The recorded speed alleged by the police was 102 mph. At the time Mr B had an 11 year old pillion passenger on the motorcycle.
Our client was adamant that the speed of the motorcycle during the course of the speed check was nowhere near the speed alleged by the police. Indeed, Mr B was adamant that the highest speed he reached was 85 mph.
Barry Culshaw, a consultant and road traffic specialist, had conduct of the case throughout. It was evident that the speed check which comprised a "follow check" or "pacing" was unsatisfactory. For such a check to be carried out satisfactorily it would have been necessary for the police car to take up a position to the rear of the "target" vehicle. The police car should then have maintained a set distance whilst pursuing the target vehicle neither catching up nor dropping back. No other vehicle should have interfered with the check by being in between the police car and the target vehicle.
It would seem that the check in B's case was carried out with three to five cars being between the target vehicle and the police vehicle at any given time. The police were also alleging that the traffic was heavy at the time which would have meant that it would have been virtually impossible for B to achieve such speeds as alleged unless all vehicles travelling in the offside of the two lanes were also significantly exceeding the speed limit.
When the matter came for sentence before the court Barry highlighted the deficiencies in the speed check for the benefit of the prosecutor and the court. In all the circumstances the prosecutor decided to accept a speed of 85 mph for sentencing purposes.
In presenting the mitigation to the court Barry did emphasise that although carrying such a young pillion passenger on a speeding motorcycle was an aggravating feature it is perhaps surprising that there is no minimum age limit for riding as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle. The only conditions applicable to the carrying of a pillion passenger in accordance with the Road Traffic Act 1988 comprise the following:
- The motorcycle must be equipped with suitable support or rests for the feet of the passenger;
- The passenger must be capable of sitting astride a proper seat securely fitted to the motor cycle
- The passenger must be wearing a suitably constructed safety helmet;
- The responsibility of the suitability of carrying a passenger rests with the rider who is legally responsible for ensuring that the passenger is safely supported;
- Quite apart from the road traffic provisions there is the issue of parental responsibility and consent which should be forthcoming before a child is carried as a pillion passenger.
In all respects Mr B was complying with the legal requirements in terms of the carrying of the pillion passenger.
In all the circumstances the Justices decided to exercise discretion not to disqualify Mr B and instead imposed a fine and ordered the endorsement of Mr B's driving licence with the minimum amount of penalty points, namely, three points.
Our client, was relieved at the outcome as he would have suffered hardship had he been disqualified from driving for any length of time.