Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.

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Thursday, 26 March 2015


 Our lives are ruled by numbers.  Very often those numbers are translated consciously or otherwise as risk.  After that awful air crash in France it is unlikely that there were sufficient cancellations from nervous intending passengers for airlines to consider reducing flights because we assume the risk to us as individuals is miniscule.  And so is the risk relatively speaking of being  prosecuted for using a mobile phone whilst driving.  About 750,000 Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued since the offence was established in 2006. In 2011 there were 171,000 such FPNs issued for the offence.  Prosecutions in Magistrates`Courts for the offence were 35,397 in 2011 with a conviction rate of 91%.  It has been estimated by some that 10% of all driving convictions are for use of mobile whilst driving.  Current figures are hard to obtain.  Perhaps that is because of the reduced number of tickets being issued owing to the greatly reduced number of police patrol cars on the roads of this country and that is a direct result of the coalition`s policy of worshipping at the temple of the NHS while policing, courts and defence of the realm are starved of funds. 

Nevertheless those who refuse a FPN and/or plead not guilty by post are entitled for the process of summary trial to determine their guilt or innocence.  Every court in the land spends a good deal of its time on motoring matters which is why Grayling is so determined to fast track on - line facilities to “simplify” such “simple” cases.  As per past experience there are always one or two defendants per sitting who have pleaded not guilty by post to use of a mobile phone whilst driving and/or  make no further contact with the court and yet who fail to attend for trial.  What complete and utter fools these people are. Unless procedural failings are found or police perjury is suspected conviction in absence is virtually certain. A typical case earlier this week was J who was found guilty in his absence; fined £200 with costs of £640 and a surcharge of £20.  So my advice to those caught using a mobile whilst driving is to pay the FPN of £100 and accept the 3 penalty points with grace.  And if there is a hope that their case is to be one of the 9% found not guilty at trial that can only happen if they turn up for their trial with the limited defences available.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe sometime soon, they'll extend convictions of this misdemeanour to the Police that flagrantly breach it! After all: Equality beneath the law is paramount and it not?