Sunday, 19 August 2012

Watch Out For Wiggins!

The whole team at GeoffreyMiller Solicitors have been avidly watching the Olympics for the last couple of weeks. We were really excited to see Bradley Wiggins win the cycling time trial especially after his victory in the Tour De France.

Wiggo, pictured here leading the sportive in Barnoldswick today, has said that he hopes that more people will take up cycling and we echo his thoughts!

Wiggo in the Barnoldswick Sportive 19 08 2012
In anticipation of the country's roads filling with more cyclists than ever before, our team of specialist motoring lawyers decided to find out exactly what vehicle drivers have to look out for when they meet a cyclist on the road.

1    Cycle lanes

The rules are slightly different depending on whether a cycle lane is marked with a solid or a broken white line.

Where there is a solid white line you must not either drive or park in the cycle lane. If you do then you could be fined up to £1,000.00. Some cycle lanes are not always active. Outside the times of operation no restrictions apply.

Where there is a broken white line you should not drive or park in the lane unless it is unavoidable. You cannot be fined for this but it is a breach of the 
Highway Code.

If a cycle lane has waiting restrictions then parking in it will land you with a fine.


It can sometimes be quite frustrating to get stuck behind a bicycle when it is holding you up by going slowly in front of you. You should never be tempted to overtake unless it is completely safe to do so. If this means crawling along at 5mph or even stopping then that is what you have to do. 

The basic rule is that you need to leave just as much space for a bicycle as you would for a car.

You should also stay behind if you are following a cyclist approaching a roundabout or junction, and you intend to turn left.

If you do not stick to the rules you could be prosecuted for careless driving or even dangerous driving in extreme cases. The likelihood of being prosecuted is increased dramatically if there is an accident.

           Opening your car door

Be careful when you open your car door. If you injure or endanger a cyclist (or anyone else for that matter) by doing so then could be committing an offence under the The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and you risk a fine of up to £1,000.00.

It is also highly likely that you will be liable in a civil claim for any passenger's negligence in opening their door onto a cyclist so watch out for your passengers' actions as well as your own.

       General advice

This is the general advice given in the Highway Code. Not following it is not a criminal offence in itself. Like all advice in the Highway Code it is a good idea to follow it so that you stay safe and avoid civil liability as well as a claim on your insurance.

It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think. When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing. Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.

When passing motorcyclists and cyclists, give them plenty of room (see Rules 162-167). If they look over their shoulder it could mean that they intend to pull out, turn right or change direction. Give them time and space to do so.

Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make.

       What should I do if…?

Cyclists in front of me are riding three abreast and blocking the road.

The cyclists are in the wrong. They should only ride two abreast on a normal road or in single file on a busy/narrow road. The fact that the cyclists are not obeying the rules of the road does not give you the right to do the same. You should drive behind the cyclists, keep a safe distance and wait until there is a safe place to overtake.

There is a bike in front of me who is 2-3 metres into the road. If he moved over I could get past. Can I sound my horn to get him to mover over?

No. Cyclists are entitled to ride away from the kerb to avoid potholes, debris and drains. You should not try to intimidate them.

I am waiting at a red light. A cyclist has undertaken me coming up to the junction. Is there anything that I can do?

It can be quite dangerous for bikes to pass on the nearside (passenger side). They are often in a motorist’s blind spot and can sometimes get crushed by trucks or buses. You should be particularly vigilant and always watch out for cyclists doing this.

It is not advisable to take the law into your own hands. You could potentially report the matter to the police but it is very unlikely that they would take any action. 

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Are Motoring Offences Merely A Sign of Success?

Guest blog by Jonathan Berry

Wealth and motoring offences seem to go hand in hand, especially if the media's coverage of footballers' misdemeanours are to be believed.  The reason for this is, to some extent, obvious; the increased chance to purchase highly powered supercars and the opportunity to attend the best places in town. 

House-hold names such as Paul Merson, Ray Wilkins and Jermaine Pennant have all recently been stopped in high performance vehicles.

A report on has shown that professional footballers top the list of occupations that are the worst offenders for motoring offences. It was established that 28.9% of footballers have some form of motoring offence conviction on their licence.

Many people think that there must be a blatant disregard for the rules of the road by footballers, but this trend may be caused by other factors.
The fact that young footballers do not have the same learner driving experience as the regular ‘Joe Blogs’ could mould the rest of their driving career. The ‘finding your feet’ stage of driving is usually learnt in the first few years after passing your test. My first car after passing my test was a 1.1 litre vehicle which would be very different to most footballers who have the luxury to hand pick any car they so wish. This could mean that they may be learning their road awareness in a 3 litre turbo vehicle or bigger! At such a young age, it is easy to ‘show off’ in front of friends and unfortunately that is the main time that accidents and motoring offences occur.
At Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, we deal with several ‘VIP’ clients including a number of sporting legends
"I would strongly recommend anyone facing a motoring prosecution to call Jeanette Miller of Geoffrey Miller Solicitors.
We offer a VIP service to every client whether they are a footballer or a taxi driver. Please visit our Premium Gold (VIP) services and call for a confidential chat with ‘Miss Justice’ Jeanette Miller. Some of our more elite service packages include a press relations service which will guide you through any court appearance and for those keen to keep out of the public eye, we will give advice on the best way to keep details of your case as discreet and "below the radar" as possible.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Beware of "Sex on the Beach" in the midday sun!

Co-authored by Jeanette Miller and Jonathan Berry

Isn't this sunshine gorgeous?! Doesn't it make you feel so much happier when you open those curtains and see glorious blue sky? Like many Brits, does this seemingly rare heatwave also increase your tendency for an alcoholic tipple or two in the sunshine. Maybe because it is so rare to be able to sit freely outside, more people are encouraged to go for a drink after work or on their dinner hour and can decide to ‘chance’ driving home. The excitement of the summer sun is then short lived when they are arrested for drink driving and are looking at a minimum 12 month ban.

The summer sun can also increase the temptation to look at the cocktail menu. Popular cocktails such as the ‘Cosmopolitan’ and ‘Long Island Ice Tea’ have several different spirits in and because of the home made aspect to these drink consumers are often unaware of exactly how many units they are drinking.

Despite the fact that the drink driving limit can be exceeded even with one drink, there is a common view across the country that any more than two pints is unacceptable. There is little or no guidance out there on how many cocktails you can have! Possibly because most cocktails on their own would send you straight over it.

I have been harping on for years about the "2 pints" theory being flawed in itself as every drink is different and contains varying alcoholic content. The amount of ‘acceptable’ alcoholic drinks is completely different from person-to-person.

Factors that people need to take into consideration are:
  • The person’s gender
  • The person’s weight
  • The person’s current levels of stress
  • The person’s age
  • Whether the person has eaten in the past few hours; and
  • The person’s metabolism
Cocktails have several different spirits in them and the flavour is usually masked by fruit-based mixers and sugar. Many people can get carried away sipping their ‘sex on the beach’ and can easily be convinced to order a ‘mojito’ to follow.

Cocktails are commonly served in large jugs and are regularly ordered between friends. Again, this can be very dangerous before driving home as you are unaware the amount you are drinking and exactly how many units are in the glass you have poured yourself!

Drinking pints of lager these days is just as hazardous as fashionable cocktails! There are many continental lagers and beers now on the menu and people very rarely ask the percentage of the alcohol content when a pint is ordered.

Half a pint of 3.5% beer/lager or cider is approximately one unit of alcohol. Following reading this blog, I hope you will now notice that many continental lagers are now closer to 5% or even 6%!
This drastically effects the volume of lager that you can drink, alongside the other factors stated above, before being caught driving over the limit.

Apart from taking a breathalyser test before getting behind the wheel (and even they have their faults!) there are no definitive physiological indicators whether you will be over or under the limit. If caught and convicted, the "chancing it" cocktail could cost you your job and have a knock on effect to innocent third parties, such as family members.

The vast majority of people who call us to find out what they can do about the drink drive prosecution they face start by saying, "I'm not a drink driver and I completely disagree with drink driving". I don't doubt that for one minute as I am yet to come across someone who supports getting behind the wheel when drunk. The common theme amongst virtually every client we assist is a lack of awareness and poor judgement. Don't let the cocktail menu tempt you to join this club!

If you have unfortunately been caught drink driving and would like to pick up the phone and talk things through with one of our experienced caseworkers , then please get in touch on Free phone 08000 85 27 84.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Confused Much Mr Taxi Driver???

Guest Blog by George Matthews, Paralegal at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors

From 1 March 2012 all taxi drivers in London are required to display taxi driver identifiers in the front and rear windows of their taxis. There are two different types of identifiers – a Green Badge for those taxis licensed to pick up fares in all parts of London, and a Yellow Badge for those taxis licensed for suburban areas only. The Yellow Badge also identifies which sectors the licence covers.

Although taxi laws and offences are fairly niche areas of motoring law we thought we'd post some clarification for those who may be confused by the changed procedures:

1. What happens if I don’t display my identifier?

Failure to display identifiers in the form prescribed by Transport for London (TfL) or displaying identifiers that bear a different number to the driver’s badge are breaches of the London Cab Order 1934. The London Taxi and Private Hire (TPH) Staff Manual provides that action should be taken in accordance with the following guidelines:

(i)           Not displaying identifiers: A written warning will be the norm for a first offence in the period of the current and preceding licence. Unless there is significant mitigation, a second offence will result in a suspension for one month, and a third offence in the same period will result in revocation of the driver’s licence.

(ii)          If the driver is not displaying identifiers because they have been lost or stolen and he has informed TPH, no further action is necessary. However, if the driver fails to inform TPH action as at (i) above should be considered.

(iii)         Displaying identifiers in the wrong place: A Compliance Officer should resolve on the spot either by issuing an additional wallet to affix in the correct location or making a note to send an additional wallet to licensee’s address.

(iv)         Displaying identifiers with the wrong badge number: Each case will be judged on its own merits although if there is evidence of fraudulent activity consideration must be given to suspending or revoking the driver’s licence (see also (v) below).

(v)          If a driver is found displaying forged, fake or stolen identifiers, consideration must be given to suspending his licence pending further investigation. On completion of the investigation the driver’s fitness to remain licensed must be reviewed. See also “I copied my mate’s identifier...” below.

(vi)         Drivers displaying photocopies of their identifiers, and storing their original elsewhere in their taxi: The driver should be given a verbal warning and advised to display the correct identifiers. A record of the warning must be made and should the driver repeat the offence it should be dealt with as at (i) above.

2. Why have these identifiers been introduced?

The identifiers are designed to encourage compliance by drivers, including plying for hire within their licensed area. They are not intended to restrict the areas in which taxis can work, but aid TfL Compliance Officers and the police.

3. What happens if I lose my identifier?

If you have lost or had your identifier stolen you must notify TPH immediately. In the interim, they will issue a letter stating you are waiting for your replacement to be delivered and can continue working.

4. I saw a Yellow Badge holder in central London. Should I confront them about this?

There are a number of reasons why a Yellow Badge holder may legitimately be in central London or in a sector other than those for which they are licensed, including:

·         Dropping off fares that started in their sector but ended outside it;
·         Picking up fares that were pre-booked when the driver was in their sector;
·         The driver is licensed for one of the two extension areas; and
·         The driver is plying for hire at an ‘island rank’.

If the Yellow Badge holder was plying for hire outside their designated area, a written warning will be the norm for a first offence in the period of the current and preceding licence. Unless there is significant mitigation, a second offence will result in a suspension for one month, and a third offence in the same period will result in revocation of the driver’s licence.

Even if the Yellow Badge holder was not in central London for a legitimate reason, the correct action to take is to report this to TPH. Their guidance states that “any driver found confronting another driver for any reason risks having their suitability to be licensed reviewed which may ultimately lead to their licence being suspended or revoked.”

5. I copied my mate’s identifier and the police caught me. What will happen?

The Driver and Operator Policy Manager at TPH has said: “I must stress that any driver found using a forged or fake identifier will have their licence suspended pending the outcome of the police investigation and any subsequent court case. To date a number of drivers have been arrested and investigations are ongoing.”

6. I don’t agree with the decision to revoke/suspend my licence. Can I appeal?

Any taxi driver who is dissatisfied with the decision of TfL to suspend or revoke his taxi driver's licence may, within 28 days, ask TfL to reconsider its decision. You may be accompanied by a legal or other representative at this hearing. The hearing is primarily an opportunity for you to speak for yourself and to bring attention to matters which you feel TfL should take into consideration in reviewing its decision. Even when you are represented you will be encouraged to speak for yourself. You should be notified of the outcome of the reconsideration within 28 days. Unless the revocation or suspension is with immediate effect for public safety reasons, drivers can continue working while the appeal is ongoing. If the you are not satisfied with the result of the reconsideration by TfL you may then appeal the result, within 28 days, to the appropriate magistrates’ court.

Please get in touch with any member of the team at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors on 08000 85 27 84 if you are a taxi driver needing expert legal help. Don't forget to mention our special offer of a 10% discount on fees...

Monday, 14 May 2012

Mobility Scooter Confusion- Guest Blog By Jonathan Berry

Mr. Barry Dobner was recently prosecuted for having knocked down an 85 year-old woman while driving his battery powered mobility scooter. Mr. Dobner admitted to drink driving and ran down an elderly woman. The female collapsed to the floor with a cut to her leg and a bump on the head which required hospital treatment.

Mr. Dobner was alleged to have driven away after the incident and returned to the scene some time later and spoke to police. Mr. Dobner was then breathalysed and gave a breath reading of 43 microgrammes (µg) of alcohol. This clearly puts Mr. Dobner over the legal limit which is 35 µg. 

Motorists driving "mechanically propelled vehicles" on the road who are found to be driving whilst under the influence of alcohol are governed by a very different law to that of an electric mobility scooter driver. Senior partner of the firm, Jeanette Miller recently wrote a blog on's site about this very topic.

Mobility Scooter Drivers Do Not Require Driving Licences 

Section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872 is relevant for incidents involving mobility scooters and bikes which states that it is an offence to be riding a cycle or to be in charge of any “carriage, horse or cattle” when drunk. Mr. Dobner may be surprised to find out that his mobility scooter would come under the title of ‘carriage’, rather than mechanically propelled vehicle.

This archaic law requires the court to be satisfied that the driver was drunk. Merely suggesting that he was over the legal limit will not be enough to secure a conviction.
There is also no lawful right for the police to request a breath, blood or urine sample to be provided in these circumstances. Despite this, Mr. Dobner was asked to give a breath reading which the police had no lawful right to request.
Although the prosecution is in our view erroneous in law, Mr. Dobner appeared at South Sefton Magistrates and admitted drink driving. The judge banned him from driving for a year and he was also fined £150 with £85 costs.
This decision was based on the fact that the judge has classed the mobility scooter as a ‘mechanically-propelled vehicle’ and that it is ‘unlawful to drink to excess and drive it on a public road or in a public place under Section 4 of the Road Traffic Act.

The ancient Licensing Act would have been more appropriately applied in this case and would have given rise to a fine of up to £200 or one month in prison. We consider the Judge in this case to have erred in law as he had no power to ban Mr. Dobner from driving. Particularly as a mobility scooter driver does not need a driving licence to drive a scooter!

As Mr. Dobner was involved in a collision with an elderly lady, it may be deemed too serious to be dealt with by way of fine. Therefore the judge could have relied on an offence under paragraph 35 of the Offences against the Person Act 1861. This could result in a maximum sentence of two years imprisonment if convicted.

We suspect that had he had expert legal representation, Dobner's driving licence would have been saved. There clearly is a need for clarification of the position for mobility scooters, not just for scooter drivers but also for the judiciary!

Friday, 4 May 2012

How To Avoid Motoring Convictions During London 2012

Guest Blog: By Alison Ashworth, paralegal at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors

The Olympics are on their way, and will bring with them a host of games specific crimes.

Stay on the right side of the law during London 2012

If you’re intending to attend any of the games, you had better make sure you bought your ticket from an authorised ticket reseller.  Buying from a ticket tout could lead to paying twice the price, having your bank details stolen and could ultimately mean that you travel to the venue to be told that your tickets are fake.

If you have bought excess tickets, you should also beware of the law relating to ticket touting. If you are found selling, offering to sell, or even advertising Olympic tickets to make a profit you would face prosecution leading to a fine of up to £20,000.

Further fakery related to the games could also lead to prosecution. Many con artists have seized the Olympics as an opportunity to make a quick buck by selling apparently “authentic” Olympic merchandise. Buying knock off gear on the cheap could not only leave you with faulty and poor quality goods, it would also be rewarding organized crime and leaving legitimate traders out of pocket.

Those found to be peddling counterfeit Olympic merchandise will be potentially liable for a number of offences including infringement of the Trade Marks, Copyright,Design and Patents Acts. Harsh penalties of up to ten years imprisonment and potentially unlimited fines for the most serious trademark offences could be imposed.

Security will be extra tight on the streets of London during the games. Police will be cracking down on crimes like street trading, petty theft and street drinking. The increased police presence will equate to the highest concentration of firearms in this country ever. Police are on alert to be extra vigilant for all types of offences including driving offences such as drink driving.

Whilst you are unlikely to have a gun pointed at you for drink driving, you may be pointing a gun at your own head by getting behind the wheel of a car after one too many. The other serious consequence of being found drink driving is an automatic disqualification from driving for a minimum of 12 months. 

Even if you are completely sensible and ensure that you are sober when behind the wheel you could still be stopped for being under suspicion of driving whilst under the influence. If for some reasons you cannot produce the breath sample the police request from you you could face an even harsher penalty for the alcohol related offence of failing to provide a specimen.

There are further driving related pit falls to be aware of during the Olympics-   specific networks of roads interconnecting the Olympic and Paralympic sites are considered to be hotspots where drivers may be stopped.   The networks will pass through Greater London, and spread through the south of England.  To identify whether your street will be affected by the route, please use the following tool on the transport for London website

Some streets that are incorporated onto the Olympic route will be easy to identify by the existence of Games Lanes.  These restricted access lanes will only be capable of being used by select groups of people. If you’re wondering whether or not you qualify to use the lane the answer is probably not! Use of the lane is restricted to the athletes themselves, games officials, members of the media, emergency services and games organisers.  Being caught using a Games Lane when not entitled to do so could land you with a penalty charge notice (Parking ticket) and a £200 fine.

The  Olympic/Paralympic networks will be subject to a number of  other restrictions (such as no parking, turning or stopping)  which may be less obvious to spot.

Drivers who are local to the affected routes may think they are already familiar with the roads but they must beware- subtle changes may catch you off guard!  Less obvious changes may include changes in the timings of traffic signals and suspension of some parking bays.

If you are caught falling foul of these temporary measures you could face “civil penalties” such as a fine or could even have your vehicle towed on the spot. If you are unlucky enough to be caught out by a red light or other traffic sign you could be issued with penalty points. Tot up too many of these (12) and you could end up in court and face an automatic ban of 6 months.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Driving Under the Influence of Paracetamol???

Guest Blog by George Matthews

Drink driving law is relatively clear cut as to what constitutes being “over the limit”. A limit of 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath is the legal breath limit and if you provide a breath sample above that level you are over the limit. Simple. Proof of any kind of "impairment" is unnecessary. Alcohol affects everybody differently and factors such as height and weight can affect the rate at which alcohol is eliminated from the body. The prescribed alcohol limit is therefore, to a certain extent, an arbitrary one. In a lot of European countries the limit is about half of that in the UK, and some countries even go as far as to have a zero tolerance policy on drinking and driving.

The law surrounding drug driving, however, is not as clear cut. There are no prescribed limits, which is in part due to the (ever-expanding) range of legal and illegal drugs. In addition to having to prove the presence of the drug in your system, normally achieved by way of a blood test and/or an admission of having taken the drug, the prosecution must prove that your driving has been impaired as a result of that drug.

As the technology stands, most drink drive cases are disposed of by way of breath samples being taken on a breathalyzer machine at a police station with the results of the breath analysis being near-instantaneous. Stopping someone for drug driving, however, usually involves doing impairment tests at the roadside, examination by a doctor at a police station, the taking of blood and the analyzing of blood which can take weeks. These more onerous steps could account for the significantly lower number of people being stopped for, and being convicted of, drug driving. The external signs of drug use can also be more subtle than those of alcohol which could also be a reason for the lower detection rate.

There has been increasing publicity surrounding the committee of experts set up by the Department for Transport to investigate the possibility of introducing prescribed limits for drugs. These limits would be very similar to that currently in place for alcohol.

Whilst any move to introduce laws to make our roads safer can only be a good thing, these limits, if set, will need to be considered very carefully. Just as with alcohol, these limits will necessarily be arbitrary to a certain extent. There would clearly be a great injustice if you committed a driving offence, which would probably punishable with a mandatory ban, by taking a couple of paracetamol tablets before getting behind the wheel.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Beware Tourists- Driving abroad this summer could get you in a lot of bother!

Whilst my team and I are expert motoring solicitors and know pretty much everything there is to know about driving offences, driving loopholes and strategies applicable to UK motoring law, I was surprised to discover just how much our motoring laws differ from those in other European countries.

Many will have heard by now about France’s introduction of a new mandatory law to carry a handheld breathalyser at all times in your vehicle. Handheld breathalyser devices can be purchased in this country or when in France. I was recently asked to comment on this and other European driving rules on BBC Breakfast. Here are some snippets from the research we did for the show:


     In many European countries, is compulsory to carry a driving licence, car registration papers and insurance documents in the car .
     Children in cars

It is often obligatory that children under 18 who are less than 1.35 metres tall (although in some countries it’s 1.5 metres) must travel in an EU approved child car seat or raised booster seat. This applies to travelling in the front and back seats.

In Holland, a child under three may not be transported in a car without being strapped in to a seat.


Again, in Holland I was bemused to learn that parking is severely limited and strictly enforced, particularly in 
Amsterdam, where you can be fined or have your car towed away for illegal parking, or for failing to pay the necessary parking fee and displaying the ticket.

In some areas, signs marked 'I' and 'II' separated by a red diagonal stripe may appear. These mean no parking on the left on odd dates, no parking on the right on even dates!!. In cities, you need a cardboard disc to park in "blue zone" areas. These discs, placed on the dashboard, can be obtained at motor club offices, tobacco shops and police stations. There is no parking where the curb is painted black and white or yellow.

     Do you take American Express for that?

Watch out in Germany! Known for having a more relaxed speed limit on most roads, if exceeded, German police officers are allowed to collects fines on the spot for any minor motoring offence and drivers are allowed to pay cash and on their debit/visa card.

Warning triangles and High Visibility Vests

In many countries such as Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Norway and Portugal and (and likely to become compulsory throughout the EU) vehicles must carry a warning triangle and a highway first aid kit at times.
In Germany you are required to place the warning triangle 100 meters behind your vehicle if it is disabled (200 meters on the Autobahn).

In France you must carry “high vis” vests – enough for every person in your vehicle. Watch out though because the vests and triangles must be accessible from within the vehicle and not in the boot! This motoring offence is relatively minor and punishable by a fine but still, unless you do your research, you could get stung by a gendarme looking to make some extra cash on his tour of duty, stopping an unsuspecting car marked, “GB” otherwise known as “mug!”

Visibility Vests are now also compulsory in Spain. The rules vary from country to country concerning number of vests required and whether they should be carried in the car or boot. Common sense suggests that there should be a vest for every occupant, and that the vests should be carried in the car, and put on before getting out.

Carrying a warning triangle is also compulsory in most European countries. In Spain, one only is required for non-Spanish registered vehicles but two are required for Spanish registered vehicles.

Income Related Speeding Tickets

Talking of fines, the worst country to get caught speeding in is Switzerland. The penalty for speeding depends on the amount by which the speed limit was exceeded and, for more major offences, an additional penalty linked to the daily net-income (‘DNI’) of the perpetrator can be imposed.

If you get zapped by a speed camera the police will send you the fine even if you live abroad. In Switzerland speeding is not a violation of a traffic code but a ‘legal offence’. If you fail to comply there is a good chance that an international rogatory (a formal request from a court to a foreign court for some type of judicial assistance) will be issued and you have to go to court in your home country. This is enforced by most countries, including all of Europe. Failure to comply can result in a warrant being issued for your arrest by your home country.

Some might say this level of penalty is deserved by someone convicted of such a high speed. Whilst this famous allegation of a record speeding fine of £1,000,000 was widely publicized, there are no further reports of the eventual outcome of this case. Unlike the Swiss millionaire who was forced to pay up! Not many of us will drive at these speeds or have this level of income so I probably wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it if you have an impending trip to Zurich!

It’s a “no-no to Tom Tom!”

In France and Germany, a GPS based navigation system which has maps indicating the location of fixed speed cameras must have the ‘fixed speed camera Points of Interest’ function deactivated. Radar detectors are prohibited even if not switched on. You can be fined as much as 1500 euros, have the device confiscated or even have your car impounded if found in possession of an offending device. So, use your Sat nav by all means but watch out for this one. Apparently you are not obliged to allow an officer to inspect your device if they stop you so policing of this motoring offence must be interesting!


The law operating in Spain regarding the use of indicators on motorways is being strictly enforced. You risk being fined for not indicating before overtaking and again before pulling back to the nearside lane after overtaking.

Mobile Phones

Talking on cell phones when driving is prohibited by Spanish law. This includes talking in your car when pulled over to the side of the road. You must be completely away from the road.

Most European countries ban the use of a mobile phone while driving but in some countries, even holding a phone while behind the wheel of a car amounts to a defence.

My advice

If planning on driving while abroad, I would advise that you do some research on the country’s motoring laws before you go. Many motoring websites contain extensive advice about European driving laws. Don’t chance it by thinking they do things the same way as in the UK as the examples above hopefully show just how different our motoring laws are.

Check out the news story we posted last year about how speeding tickets can follow you back home if driving in Europe and get in touch with us if you require any advice on this or other motoring law issues. All initial enquiries are dealt with free of charge. 08000 85 27 84.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Can You Fall Foul Of The Law Teaching A Learner Driver?

We have recently received a few enquiries about the rules applying to New and Learner Drivers. If you are a parent about to embark on the road of teaching your child to drive, you are already probably tearing your hair out with the stress of hitting the imaginary brake every 5 minutes every time you go out and about on driving practice!

The last thing you want is to get in trouble yourself for not following the motoring laws applicable to provisional drivers.

Read below for essential tips for learner drivers and their supervisors
Can anyone supervise a learner driver?

A provisional licence holder may be supervised by a “qualified driver” for the purposes of a driving lesson. A qualified driver is someone who is at least 21 years old and who has held a full UK driving licence for at least 3 years. L-plates must be displayed on the vehicle and there must be a valid policy of insurance in force in respect of the vehicle. A learner driver must also refrain from drawing a trailer.

Unless the person supervising the learner driver is a registered driving instructor, they cannot charge for their services. This means that it is fine for a parent to sit in and supervise their child, but they cannot take money or money’s worth for doing so. This is interpreted very widely and any arrangement must not have a “commercial flavour”.
How do I become a qualified driving instructor?

As of 2005, the regulations require a 3 part examination to be passed in order to become a registered driving instructor and hence being able to charge for lessons. These 3 parts are:

  1.      the written examination;
  2.      the driving ability and fitness test; and
  3.      the instructional ability and fitness test.

The driving ability and fitness test and the instructional ability and fitness tests must be passed within 3 attempts each and within 2 years of passing the written examination. Your instructor licence will need to be displayed in the windscreen of the car when giving lessons. Once you have qualified, you will periodically be required to undertake a test of continued ability and fitness to give instruction.

What duties do I have when I am supervising a learner driver?

Anyone supervising a learner driver has a duty, when necessary, to do whatever can reasonably be done to prevent the learner from acting unskilfully or carelessly or in a manner likely to cause danger to others, and to this extent to participate in the driving. If there is an accident caused by lack of supervision, the learner could be charged with driving without supervision and the supervisor with aiding and abetting him, both of which are punishable by a fine. Similarly a supervisor can be charged with aiding and abetting a learner drink driving if they are supervising a learner driver whom they know to be intoxicated, the most serious penalty for which is a custodial sentence for both parties.

A supervisor is not allowed to use a mobile telephone when supervising a learner driver. This is punishable by 3 penalty points and a fine, just as if the supervisor had been driving the car. The only defence which is provided for a supervisor to use their mobile telephone when supervising a learner is if:

(a)   they are calling an emergency service on 112 or 999;
(b)   they are acting in response to a genuine emergency; and
(c)   it is unsafe or impracticable for the learner to cease driving whilst the call is being made.

This is a broad offence and includes sending text messages and using the internet, so it will very rare for this this defence to apply..