ROAD TRAFFIC

A magistrates’ court had erred in deciding to adjourn a trial for drink driving where the defendant was ready to proceed but where the prosecution had failed to warn a relevant witness who did not appear before the court as a result.

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, was unduly lenient for 36 incidents of perverting the course of justice by providing false details on behalf of motorists caught speeding or failing to stop at traffic lights. After allowance for the guilty plea, the appropriate sentence was three years’ immediate imprisonment.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1357

The prosecution’s failure to disclose a local authority report following a fatal collision on a pedestrian crossing did not render unsafe a conviction for causing death by careless driving when unfit through drink, because the report could have had no real impact on the issue for the jury which was whether the appellant was unfit through drink.

[2017] EWCA Crim 1331

The court discussed the use of the power to suspend a private hire vehicle driver’s licence under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.61.

[2017] EWHC 1764 (Admin)

It was in the interests of justice to allow a defendant insurer permission to withdraw an admission of liability under CPR r.14.1B for a road traffic accident which had resulted in the claimant suffering serious brain injuries where it sought to raise the defence of ex turpi causa.

[2017] EWHC 1336 (QB)

A minibus driver who had failed to undergo periodic training and to obtain a certificate of professional competence pursuant to the Vehicle Drivers (Certificates of Professional Competence) Regulations 2007 had been rightly convicted of an offence, notwithstanding that he had obtained his licence before the Regulations came into effect. The Regulations properly transposed Directive 2003/59 into domestic law and did not unlawfully impose any retroactive condition on existing licence holders: any consequent interference with their rights was plainly lawful and proportionate.

[2017] EWHC 1019 (Admin)

An inspector had correctly refused to confirm an order recognising a footpath which passed over a level crossing, as recognition of the footpath would be incompatible with Network Rail’s statutory duties to uphold the safe and efficient operation of the railway.

[2017] EWHC 716 (Admin)

Self-defence was capable in law of being invoked as a defence to a charge of dangerous driving, although it was likely to be a rare case in which it was capable of arising.

[2017] EWCA Crim 413

The court emphasised the importance of active case management by the criminal courts in cases involving motoring offences. The criminal law was not a game to be played for as long as a paying client could afford in the hope of a lucky outcome. Courts at all levels had a duty to firmly case-manage proceedings to ensure that they only addressed real issues which had some substance.

[2017] EWHC 1270 (Admin)

The court upheld a finding that a cyclist was solely responsible for a collision which occurred when he veered into the path of an oncoming car as he tried to avoid cycling through a puddle.

[2017] EWCA Civ 193

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment for causing death by careless driving was not manifestly excessive where the offender had failed to slow his heavy goods vehicle on his approach to a roundabout and had hit a cyclist who had right of way.

[2016] EWCA Crim 2163

A taxi driver who had illegally plyed for hire outside the area of the local authority which had granted his Hackney carriage licence still had a valid certificate of motor insurance and had not committed an offence contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.143. By virtue of s.148(2)(e), the insurance policy, which covered use of the vehicle for “business purposes including the carriage of passengers for hire or reward under a public hire licence” had to read as if the area-based restriction was not there.

[2016] EWHC 3597 (Admin)

A police officer had been entitled, under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 s.139, to refresh her memory at trial and look at a form detailing an offender’s refusal to provide a specimen of breath for analysis. The officer had verified the form as she had been present when it was filled in and had been named on it as a witness, notwithstanding that she had failed to sign it.

When sentencing an offender for causing serious injury by dangerous driving it was possible to take account of all of the injuries caused by the offence and not only those that were serious. A sentence of two years’ imprisonment imposed following a guilty plea to causing serious injury by dangerous driving was not manifestly excessive; the driving fell within category 1 of the sentencing guidelines, the offence involved four cars and numerous injuries and was aggravated by the offender’s previous driving convictions.

A sentence of 32 months’ imprisonment for causing serious injury by dangerous driving was neither wrong in principle nor manifestly excessive where the offender had recent relevant convictions, had driven at a grossly excessive speed and had caused catastrophic injury to a moped driver.

Concurrent sentences of three months’ imprisonment, to run consecutively to substantive custodial sentences imposed for driving offences, were appropriate for each instance of contempt of court committed by an offender who had repeatedly personally insulted the sentencing judge and refused to apologise. Such outbursts impeded the administration of justice and maintenance of the rule of law.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1851

A sentencing judge had not had power to disqualify an offender from driving until he passed an extended retest because the offender was already subject to such an order. The judge had also lacked power to order that the disqualification should start when the offender was released from prison: that purported to impose an extended period of disqualification, and the offences had been committed before such an order was available.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1833

The court refused to grant an injunction to prevent traveller communities from parking or placing mobile homes on roads during an airshow. Local authorities already had a range of powers to deal with parking and placing vehicles, and granting it could set a precedent where similar injunctions were sought for all public events.

[2016] EWHC 2050 (QB)

A sentence of three years’ detention for causing death by dangerous driving for a boy aged 15 at the time of the accident was not inappropriate. The inherent gravity of the offence and its consequences, coupled with the aggravating features, had entitled the sentencing judge to find that the case could only be met with a detention period under the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 s.91.

[2016] EWCA Crim 1323

Transport for London’s policy of revoking a private hire driver’s licence following a caution for touting served the legitimate aim of increasing public safety by deterring touting and was in accordance with the ECHR. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 Sch.2 para.1, requiring a caution to be regarded as spent at the time that it was given, was irrelevant to the lawfulness of that policy since the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 art.2 excepted private hire licences from the scope of the rehabilitation provisions.

[2016] EWHC 2597 (Admin)

Four individuals who had been complicit in submitting a fraudulent claim for personal injuries arising out of a road traffic accident and who had been found in contempt of court were sentenced to concurrent terms of six months’ imprisonment. The veracity of the claim turned on photographs which had been taken at the scene of the accident using an iphone. The court considered the metadata underlying such photographs and whether it could easily be tampered with.

Because of the much lower maximum for causing serious injury by dangerous driving compared with causing death by dangerous driving, the maximum sentences were concentrated more in the middle range. The length of an offender’s sentence of imprisonment was reduced from three years and four months to 31 months.

When reviewing a police decision about information to be disclosed in an enhanced criminal record bureau certificate the independent monitor of the Home Office had failed to conduct a reasonable, statutorily compliant, independent review of the reliability of the material that was the foundation of the information said to be relevant and ought to be disclosed.

[2016] EWHC 655 (Admin)

A district judge had correctly declined to determine a motorist’s application for a stay of prosecution in relation to his failure to pay excess parking charges where the application was made on the basis of the second limb of R. v Beckford (Ian Anthony) [1996] 1 Cr. App. R. 94. In any event, the motorist had failed to establish any grounds which would have entitled the judge to stay his prosecution as an abuse of process.

[2016] EWHC 1410 (Admin)

The court considered the appropriate approach to determining contributory negligence and quantum in a claim arising from a collision between two vehicles in Poland, when the claimant, a rear seat passenger who was not wearing a seatbelt, had suffered serious injuries including brain damage.

[2016] EWHC 254 (QB)

A Crown Court had erred in finding that a mechanically propelled invalid carriage was a motor vehicle for the purposes of the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.5. A man who had driven a mobility scooter on a dual carriageway while drunk had, however, been properly convicted under s.5 where he had been using the scooter in a manner which did not comply with the Use of Invalid Carriages on Highways Regulations 1988 reg.4. The scooter was not therefore excluded from being defined as a motor vehicle as provided for by the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 s.20.

An exclusion clause in the Motor Insurers’ Bureau agreement on the compensation of uninsured drivers and the operation of the maxim ex turpi causa non oritur actio released the MIB from liability to meet a personal injury claimant’s judgment against an uninsured driver; the claimant had rightly been found to have been involved in a joint criminal enterprise, namely the supply of drugs and evading arrest, when he had been injured in a road traffic accident.

An applicant bore the burden of proof when applying for a taxi licence under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 s.51 to show that he was a fit and proper person to hold such a licence, but when considering revocation of the licence it was for the local authority as the licensing authority to prove that the applicant was no longer a fit and proper person or that circumstances had changed.

A magistrates’ court had been entitled to treat a certificate issued under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 s.20, which had been signed by a prosecuting clerk employed by the prosecuting constabulary, as issued in accordance with s.20. The appellant had been properly convicted of speeding on the basis of that certificate.

A sentencing judge had been entitled to give a discount of only 20 per cent to reflect the offender’s early guilty plea to a charge of dangerous driving where the offender had initially denied that he had been driving dangerously and had not indicated his proposed plea at the earliest opportunity, and where the driving had been incontestably dangerous.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1425

Where a defendant charged with contravening the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.143 had produced a valid certificate of insurance, but the prosecution was maintained on the basis of alleged use of the vehicle in a way not permitted by the insurance certificate, the burden of proving that the vehicle was being used in that manner reverted to the prosecution.

[2015] EWHC 1850 (Admin)

The court upheld a total sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment for offences of going equipped for theft, driving while disqualified, aggravated vehicle-taking and driving without insurance, but restructured it in a way that acknowledged that the offender had been given credit for pleading guilty.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1410

Magistrates had been entitled to find that a registered keeper of a car, which she shared with her husband and which had been caught by a speed camera, had not taken reasonable steps to ascertain who had been driving the car.

Two defendants who admitted lying in a motor insurance claim by asserting that the vehicle owner was driving at the time of a rear end shunt when it was, in fact, her boyfriend, received custodial sentences for contempt of court even though their motivation for lying had not been to obtain money, but to protect against problems arising out of the possible invalidity of the boyfriend’s driving licence. The boyfriend received an immediate two-month term, and the owner a one-month term suspended for two years.

Magistrates had been entitled to convict a defendant of speeding on the basis of a police officer’s evidence that the driver had given the defendant’s details and driving licence when stopped. It had not been necessary to hold an identity parade as the officer was not an eyewitness.

[2015] EWHC 2346 (Admin)

A sentence of two years’ imprisonment was not manifestly excessive for an offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving where an offender had a number of previous convictions for driving offences and the victim’s injuries had been horrific and life changing. However, a period of disqualification from driving was reduced from seven years to four years in view of the fact that the offender was a taxi driver and his ability to drive would be important to his chances of obtaining employment.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1016

The court would not grant an extension of time to appeal against conviction based solely on a change in the law unless a substantial injustice had taken place. Where a driver had pleaded guilty to causing death by unlicensed driving contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.3ZB on the basis of counsel’s advice which later authority showed to be wrong, and injustice was caused by the continuing consequences of his conviction, an extension would be granted and the conviction would be quashed.

[2015] EWCA Crim 1116

A man who sustained serious head injuries after having been struck by a cyclist on a pedestrian crossing was eligible for compensation under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012. The cyclist had ridden his bicycle and struck him with intent to cause him injury so that the exception in Annex B(4)(1)(b) did not apply.

The Uninsured Drivers’ Agreement cl.6.1(e)(iii), which excluded the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s liability where a claimant injured in a road traffic accident knew or ought to have known that the vehicle was being used in the course or furtherance of a crime, was a serious breach of the UK’s obligations under Directive 72/166, Directive 84/5 and Directive 90/232. Art.1(4) of Directive 84/5 permitted only the limited exclusions set out in the text of the article itself.

[2015] EWCA Civ 172

A judge had erred when imposing consecutive sentences for two offences of causing serious injury by dangerous driving which related to a single incident. However, the maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment for the offence restricted the courts’ ability to reflect different types of dangerous driving and its consequences and required further Parliamentary reflection.

[2015] EWCA Crim 105

A recorder had been entitled to adopt as a starting point the maximum sentence for causing serious injury by dangerous driving. The defendant had numerous previous convictions for motoring offences, and had chosen to drive while drunk, without a licence or insurance. The resulting accident caused serious injuries to two young passengers and a sentence of 42 months’ imprisonment after a guilty plea was therefore justified.

[2015] EWCA Crim 229

In refusing a defendant’s costs order the Crown Court had applied too rigid a test in holding that there had been a public interest in bringing a prosecution against the registered owner of a vehicle who had failed to nominate a driver for a speeding offence. It should have considered whether she had brought suspicion on herself and whether she had misled the prosecution into thinking that the case against him was stronger than it was, as set out in Practice Direction (Criminal Proceedings: Costs) [2013] EWCA Crim 1632, [2013] 1 W.L.R. 3255. On the facts, however, an application to review the Crown Court’s refusal was dismissed.

A magistrates court had erred in finding that the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency had been correct to revoke an elderly woman’s driving licence under the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.93 due to a “relevant disability”, namely an age-related decline in cognitive function. The statutory requirement that a medical disability had likely caused the claimant’s unsatisfactory driving had not been proved, as the claimant had provided specific expert evidence that her cognitive abilities were almost faultless.

A sentence of three years’ imprisonment, imposed following a guilty plea to causing serious injury by dangerous driving, was reduced to two years, having regard to consideration of the relevant guideline which had been unavailable at sentencing.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2743

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 s.40 was applicable so as to enable a count on a summary-only offence to be joined to an indictment with offences which were triable either way, despite the Crown offering no evidence on those counts. The Crown’s decision did not render the indictment a nullity.

[2014] EWCA Crim 2411

It had not been unreasonable for a court to find that an offender was guilty of wilfully obstructing a highway contrary to the Highways Act 1980 s.137(1) and of neglecting or refusing to proceed in a particular line of traffic contrary to the Road Traffic Act 1988 s.35(1) when a police officer had given him directions to proceed. Although the entire exchange between the causing of the obstruction and the police officer’s directions had lasted no more than 30 to 40 seconds the obstruction could not be regarded as deminimis.

A deprivation order made in respect of a vehicle which an offender had been driving whilst committing road traffic offences was quashed where the offender did not own the vehicle.

A claimant for damages arising out of a road traffic accident should have mitigated his loss by accepting an offer of a free replacement vehicle from the other driver’s insurer instead of continuing to hire a car under a credit-hire agreement. It did not matter that his solicitors had not made him aware of the offer; they should have done.

A magistrates’ court, in acquitting a taxi driver of failing to comply with a red traffic light, had not been reasonable to reject the Crown’s undisputed evidence produced by an automatic camera.

Applying United Kingdom law on unfitness through drink to a description of conduct in a European arrest warrant, which was the only source of that information, was insufficient to meet the double criminality test in respect of a drink driving charge because nothing had been said about the degree of intoxication. It had not been open to a district judge to conclude that the only inference was that an appellant, at the time he had been driving, was so intoxicated as to be unfit to drive a car.

[2014] EWHC 3226 (Admin)