Speeding Drivers Could Avoid Fines and Penalties by Using “Special Reason” in Court
Speeding motorists could get away with using a clever tactic revealed by a lawyer.
The simple excuse used in court means that a fine or license points could be evaded by those who drive over the speed limit.
Called the “special reason” argument, Emma Patterson, senior counsel with auto crime attorneys Patterson Law, said it often worked in the courts, although it was not commonly used.
“We deal with a number of these cases each year under similar circumstances. It’s not as rare as you might think, ”Emma said. BristolLive.
“Put simply, the court will sometimes agree that there are special reasons not to impose penalty points or discretionary disqualification because someone is behind the offending driver, and he must accelerate briefly in order to get out of a potentially dangerous situation.
“It stems from a guilty plea, as part of the sentencing exercise, and authorizes magistrates not to award penalty points or discretionary disqualification. “
A survey by UK-based car rental company Select Car Leasing recently found that a third of motorists (32%) said drivers driving too close to them were their biggest fear of the road.
Drivers who end up being caught exceeding the speed limit because they are afraid of a tailgate, can use this reason to convince the court that they had no other alternative but to put the foot on the ground.
“We can assert ‘special reasons’ for avoiding penalty points or disqualification in similar circumstances – whether it is another driver or an unmarked police vehicle doing the ‘tailgating’, he said. Emma explained.
“A special reasons argument is like a sentencing mini-trial.
“It must be related to the reason why the offense was committed, rather than to extenuating circumstances related to the personal situation of the individual or his need to be able to drive.
“Special reasons must also be established by the defendant on a balance of probabilities.
“If the magistrates agree that there are special reasons, they will not impose any penalty points or discretionary disqualification.
“And these arguments tend to work best when there is no alternative. It’s about convincing the court that this was the only way out of a potentially dangerous situation.
“If it would have been just as easy for the offender to take another lane to avoid the tailgate, then no particular reason will be found. “
Emma said motorists could also make a similar defense if they briefly violate the speed limit in order to stray from an emergency vehicle.
Mark Tongue of Select Car Leasing said the advice could reassure the millions of motorists who are often caught like rabbits in the headlights when faced with an aggressive hatchback.
“This is not about giving motorists carte blanche so that they can exceed the speed limit at the first sign of an approaching car,” he said.
“But it’s reassuring to know that the courts recognize how intimidating tailgating can be, and they also recognize that a motorist might wish to take evasive action in order to get away from the offender and get rid of the offender. a potentially life-threatening situation.
“Knowing that it may be reasonable to break the law, even briefly, in order to be able to change lanes, can provide some comfort to the millions of motorists affected by these so-called ‘space invaders’.”
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The penalties for tailgating range from a fine of £ 100 and three penalty points to a driving ban and even jail time if the tailgating causes an accident.
The highway code stipulates that motorists must leave a gap of two seconds between cars. The two seconds include the time needed to think and stop. When it rains, this gap should be at least doubled.
Highways England launched a ‘Space Invaders’ campaign last year, urging motorists to be more careful about their stopping distances.
A spokesperson said at the time: “We know that if you get too close to the car in front of you, you won’t be able to react and stop in time if it brakes sharply.
“Tailgating also makes the driver in front feel targeted and victimized, taking their attention away from the road ahead and making them more likely to make a mistake.
“If this results in a collision, people in both vehicles could be seriously injured or killed. We want everyone to travel safe, so the advice is to stay safe, to stay behind. “
Worryingly, tailgating is rampant across the UK. An independent Select Car Leasing survey of 1,000 motorists found that nearly one in 10 – eight percent of men and six percent of women – said they had deliberately stepped back as an act of “revenge”, because the rival motorist had “behaved badly”. towards them.
Meanwhile, seven percent of women and six percent of men admitted to accidentally heeling behind without realizing it.
Overall, a third thought tailgating had become more of an issue in the UK over the past five years than in previous eras, and symptomatic of more aggressive driver behavior in general.
“Tailgating is stupid, disrespectful and downright dangerous,” Tongue added. “The fact that you can sometimes break the law to evade a liftgate illustrates how terrifying it can be for many drivers.
“And if you are guilty of doing it yourself, you need to take a long and careful look at your driving behavior.”