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Archive for October, 2015

Challenging A Police Officer’s Evidence

Challenging A Police Officer’s Evidence
a case study by Steve Williams, motoring law specialist


One of the toughest challenges facing a defence lawyer is cross examining a police officer. They are trained to give evidence, the courts generally believe them and they are well prepared – usually!


This week I had a case where the officer wasn’t as well prepared as he should have been.


My client was facing a speeding charge. He denied it and said the police officers who followed him in an unmarked car were mistaken. His word against two police officers?  This wasn’t going to be easy.


The odds got a little more even when one officer didn’t turn up.  The other officer appeared a little, erm laid back? He had his statement in front of him but it seemed he hadn’t bothered reading it.


He described to the court in great detail how he was in the car as a passenger, with his colleague who followed a speeding car. He described how he leant across and watched the speedo as his colleague caught up with and kept a steady distance between him and the ‘speeding’ car.  His evidence was short and he looked confident, maybe even a little smug as he sat down – job done.


I stood up and asked him how certain he was of the facts? It was a long time ago, after all.


“100% certain” came the expected reply.


I asked him to show me in detail how he was able to see the speedo as a passenger. He went into great detail about how you are able to lean across in a BMW and see the speedo – he even did a little demonstration for us – nothing if not helpful!


I asked him if he specifically remembered doing that on this occasion. He did.


“Are you certain?” I asked.


Yes, once again he was 100% certain.


“Hmmm” I said. “Let’s look at your statement, Officer and see what that says”


Reading from the statement I reminded him of what he wrote on the day: “I was driving an unmarked police car…”


“Driving, officer!” I exclaimed. “Not a passenger – now I am confused because you told me you were 100% certain.”


My turn to sit down with that smug look on my face.


Getting a Speeding Case Withdrawn: A Case Study

Jess Sadler, paralegal at Forrest Williams solicitors

Jess Sadler, paralegal at Forrest Williams solicitors


Getting a Speeding Case Withdrawn: A Case Study


Emma came to us facing two speeding charges and two failing to notify driver details charges, she had 6 points on her licence at the time of the offence, so if convicted of these charges she would fall to be disqualified under the totting up procedure.  


Emma did not have strong grounds for an Exceptional Hardship application, which can allow people to avoid the 6 month disqualification imposed when drivers reach or exceed 12 penalty points on their licence.  We advised her not to proceed on this basis.


Emma works as a Nurse in a Children’s hospital in London; she does 13 hour shifts 5 days a week and then volunteers at her local church on her days off.  Emma drives the Vicar’s wife and daughter to religious events weekly, as they have no other mode of transport.


Emma completely accepted responsibility for the Speeding Offences, however she had recently moved house and so had not received the Notices of Intended Prosecution, hence the two further charges of Failing to Notify Driver Details.


Importantly, Emma was still in frequent contact with her former landlady, Rachel, as they actually attend the same church. Emma had a system in place whereby Rachel would pass on any post that had been delivered to Emma’s previous address. Rachel was a trustworthy and reliable lady, who happily supported Emma’s case and wrote her a very strong and supporting Character Reference.


Emma came to us in desperation. The Vicar’s wife and daughter rely on her for transport and this was her concern.  She was in no way upset about the inconvenience it would cause her for having to walk to and from work.


We advised Emma that we would aim to get the Failing to Notify Driver Details Charges dropped, and hopefully get the lower of the two Speeding Offences dealt with by way of a Speed Awareness Course.  She knew that she faced a very real risk of being disqualified from driving for 6 months.


We prepared Emma’s case to our usual high standard, and arranged for one of our specialist motoring law barristers to represent her.


Emma attended Halifax Magistrates Court expecting to face a disqualification.


Emma’s barrister phoned us at 11am with the excellent news.


All four charges had been withdrawn!


The Prosecutor on the day had a child who had been a patient on Emma’s ward. He had completely sympathised with her and wanted to give her something back.


After reading Rachel’s character reference he accepted that Emma had not received the original notices of intended prosecution and so withdrew the Failing to Notify Driver Details charges, and both Speeding charges!


Emma received an amazingly unexpected result!


If you have been charged with a motoring offence and would like expert assistance, give our dedicated team a call now on 01623 397200.

Telematics Car Insurance – What Is Black Box Insurance?

Tracy Johnson, Paralegal at Forrest Williams Solicitors

Tracy Johnson, Paralegal at Forrest Williams Solicitors

What is ‘black box’ technology?


Telematics car insurance is also known as ‘black box’ insurance, or ‘pay how you drive’ insurance.


If you are a responsible driver, telematics could help lower your insurance premium for good behaviour.


Telematics has been used in fleets for some time before being adopted as the standard in car insurance.


So – what exactly is ‘black box’ insurance and how could I benefit from it?


This type of insurance is otherwise known as ‘telematics’ cover, and involves a black box being professionally installed in your car. The box monitors how and when you drive and relays this information back to the insurer, which then calculates your premiums based on the data it has received.


Black box insurance, where premiums are based on your driving behaviour, is popular among young drivers trying to reduce the cost of cover – but motorists of other ages can benefit too.


Here are six types of driver who could benefit from having black box cover:


1 – Young drivers


Young drivers aged between the ages of 17-24 are statistically the most likely to be involved in a car accident, which means premiums can be sky-high. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), drivers in this age group are three times more likely than drivers of other ages to be responsible for “catastrophic claims”.


Back box insurance enables insurers to tailor premiums to suit each individual based on their driving habits, rather than relying on statistics alone to determine the cost of their cover. So provided young drivers can demonstrate they are responsible motorists, premiums will be lower than they would be if they opted for conventional cover.


2 – New drivers


If you’ve only recently passed your driving test, and therefore have limited experience on the roads, you will also be considered high risk by insurers, regardless of your age. Telematics insurance could help you pay cheaper premiums as premiums will be based on how and when you drive, so the safer you are, the lower your premiums will be.


3 – Low mileage drivers


If you only drive a few miles every so often, it doesn’t make sense to pay the same insurance premiums as someone who drives 10,000 miles or more every year. Many black box policies allow you to choose exactly how many miles you’ll drive, and use this information to help work out your premium. If you don’t exceed this number, then you won’t have to pay any extra.


4 – Careful drivers


If you pride yourself on being a particularly safe driver, black box insurance could potentially reward you with lower premiums.


5 – Slow drivers


Black box insurance is not for boy racers. You don’t have to crawl along the roads, but you must always stick within speed limits. Remember that speed can be assessed in other ways too. For example, if you take corners too sharply and are braking while doing so, this could work against you if you have a black box installed. Similarly, you’ll need to take care not to accelerate too fast away from traffic lights or to brake hard when you see a traffic jam in front of you.


6 – Daytime drivers


Driving late at night or in the small hours is considered much riskier than driving during the daytime. This means drivers with black box insurance are likely to see premiums rise if they regularly drive at night, while some insurers have curfews, so that if you drive late at night you could be fined or see premiums rise. If you tend only to drive during the day, then black box cover could be for you as you will be rewarded for driving during “low risk” periods.


The future is black…


Estimates show that up to 20% of young drivers could be using black box car insurance by 2020.


Studies have shown that up to 57% of all drivers in the UK intend to switch to telematics insurance by 2017.


So – what should I do next?


There’s a lot to consider, so we’d advise spending some time reading up on telematics car insurance reviews, telematics technology and telematics comparisons. In this way, if you could benefit from black box technology, you can consider all your options before making an informed choice.


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