Mobile phone use will be dangerous driving - CPS policy change, by Tim Ridyard, Solicitor, BArker Gotelee

The Crown Prosecution Service announced today 6th Sept 2007 that it will publish its revised policy on road traffic offences later this autumn which will include more detailed guidance on when drivers should face manslaughter charges ( instead of lesser offences ). One important policy change is in relations to widespread public concern and relates to driving whilst using a mobile phone: where there is clear evidence of danger being caused the offence of dangerous driving will be charged as a starting point. NB Unlawful use of a mobile phone attracts 3 penalty points or discretionary disqualification and is non-imprisonable - however, dangerous driving carries a mandatory minimum 12 month driving disqualification ( with double normal duration compulsory re-test) and is an imprisonable offence.

Tim Ridyard is a solicitor, higher courts advocate and partner at Ipswich-based Barker Gotelee Solicitors 01473-611211 - tim.ridyard@barkergotelee.co.uk - www.barkergotelee.co.uk

Road Safety Act - New penalties (from 24.9.07) by Tim Ridyard. Barker Gotelee Solicitors

Road Safety Act 2006 -New penalties

The next batch of changes brought about by the Road Safety Act 2006 will commence on 24 September 2007. For drivers and operators these mainly relate to offences and their penalties. The most important changes are as follows:

Dangerous Vehicle Condition – mandatory minimum 6 month disqualification for second dangerous condition offence within 3 years. This is very important as sole traders/partnership operators' own driving licences may be endorsed where their drivers use a vehicle in a dangerous condition - and hence they are at risk of disqualification. This emphasises the advantage of operating as a limited company which does not have a driving licence and hence gives protection to the 'owner's' personal licence. Arguably far too many operators run as sole traders or partnerships when they may be better protected as a limited company.

Careless Driving – The penalty for careless driving increases from £2,500 to £5,000 (the penalty points in the range 3-9 or discretionary disqualification does not change). New definition of carelessness: guilty if a driver drives in a way which falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver. In deciding this the Court must have regard not only to the circumstances of which he could be expected to be aware but also to any circumstances shown to have been within the knowledge of the accused. To be convicted of the separate offence of inconsiderate driving a conviction can only follow if third parties are actually inconvenienced.

Driver Identity Information – the penalty for failing to provide information about the identity of a driver rises from 3 to 6 penalty points – it is intended to remove the incentive to fail to notify driver information - the penalty is severe and increases the danger of a totting disqualification. Here there is less protection for those within limited companies because those within companies can be summoned personally where they connive to fail to provide driver details. This is a very robust penalty for failing to give driver information against individuals and businesses.

There are then miscellaneous other new provisions relating to furious driving, failure to give permission for blood samples to be taken and numerous other misc. matters.

Tim Ridyard is a partner, Higher Rights advocate and road transport solicitor at Ipswich based Barker Gotelee Solicitors: 01473 611211 and tim.ridyard@barkergotelee.co.uk