The Law in Theory

Picture of ScalesIn this section we describe how the law is supposed to work, and some basic principles in the way it's meant to be applied with regard to speeding offences. Before you begin, you might like to familiarise yourself with a few basic facts and terms in our glossary.

So to start with, here are a few simple quiz questions about the application of traffic law. Incidentally, if you disagree with any of the answers, please don’t write to us as these points were discussed very thoroughly in court during our case. Please write instead to Gwent Magistrates' Court at Newport.

  • Does PACE (The Police and Criminal Evidence Act) apply to summary offences?
  • Do you need to have been given a speeding ticket, a caution or have ever received a written Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)?
  • Is the evidence of one police officer who is "maintaining a constant distance", and who has calibrated his own speedometer, admissible without corroboration?
    See precedent below.
  • Do you have to be prosecuted for one speed?
  • Can police officers drive unmarked patrol cars up behind you at 109 mph, without the warning lights on, and push you to go faster?
  • Is it acceptable for police officers to drive around with thousands of pounds worth of equipment provided by the taxpayer (designed to accurately measure your speed) with it switched off?

As far as we can tell, under the law, you could be driving along at 70 mph and a police officer could drive up behind you and pull you over saying that you had been traveling at 120 mph and you could be convicted on his "expert opinion" alone.

All of the stuff you hear about speeding tickets, cautions, written NIPs, corroboration etc. appear to be down to individual constabularies' procedures, and not the law.

  • The above may be lawful - but is it right?

Precedent was set and has never been successfully challenged:

  • Weatherhogg v Johns (1931) 95JP Jo 364, DC.
  • Russell v Beasley [1937] I All ER 527, DC.

In these cases the defendant was convicted on the evidence of one police officer following the defendant's car and noting the speedometer reading on the police vehicle, and of a person who checked the speedometer and found it to be recording accurately.

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