I wonder do people know about this, and what is their opinion on this matter.
A person rang me this morning, to ask if I could get some information for him regarding speeding offences, and the law in relation to challenging a speeding offence in court.
He was stopped doing 64 kph, in what he was told was a 60 kph zone by a Garda, and was shown the reading on the speed gun.
He said that he felt he was not breaking the limit in that area, but did not argue with the Garda by the roadside.
The Garda was by herself in the car, and it was on a very wide stretch of main road, the main Limerick-Waterford road, outside of Clonmel. (He was travelling away from Clonmel)
Because it was a bank holiday morning, there was no other traffic on the road.
Anyways, because he asked me what he could do, I went onto the internet, and looked at the road traffic act in relation to it (public reps seemingly are considered cheap solicitors, and also his solicitor wouldn't be available before tommorow)
Here is a copy of the Act. regarding "Evidence in relation to certain offences"
Now people need to be aware of a few things.
The only visual record that the driver saw of what the Garda said was him exceeding the limit, was a reading on the speed gun, at the side of the road.
He felt, that in his opinion, the reading was incorrect.
My first question was in relation to documentary evidence that the particular reading was made, if the person wished to challenge this case in court, instead of taking the fixed charge fine, and penalty points.
The response from the staff sargent on the desk was:
The speed gun are incapable of giving documentary proof of the reading on the meter.
Not only that, but the Garda admitted, that once a reading was taken, the reading would lock onto the screen, until the trigger was pressed again.
This could mean that technically, an over-speed reading could be taken once, and this would remain on the camera, unless the Garda cleared the screen. If he/she didn't, they could continue to show the same reading to every driver they stopped thereafter, and none of these drivers would be able to prove that they were not the persons recorded at that speed reading.
Second question was, that the Act above stated "(2) In proceedings for an offence referred to in subsection (1)—
(a) a document—
(i) purporting to be, or to be a copy of, a record referred in that subsection and to be signed by a member of the Garda Síochána, and
(ii) on which is endorsed a statement to the effect that it is, or is a copy of, the record aforesaid,
shall be prima facie evidence in those proceedings of the indications or measurements contained in the record, and it shall not be necessary to prove the signature on the document or that the signatory was a member of the Garda Síochána, and"
I said that this part of the Act required that documentary evidence be given to the offender prior to him going to court.
his response was
That the summons would state the speed that the driver was doing, and this is the only documentary evidence that is necessary.
(basically the guard can write what they like on the summons, and the person has no prima facie evidence to prove that he was doing any other speed)
Then, heres where the Act really threw me a wobbly.
In relation to the device used to record the excessive speed, i.e. the speed gun
The Act says...
"can be inferred of measurements or other indications which were given by electronic or other apparatus (including a camera) and are contained in a record produced by that apparatus, and it shall not be necessary to prove that the electronic or other apparatus was accurate or in good working order."
Basically this Act says, that you can be charged with an offence by using a speed gun, but under the law, the Gardai have no requirement to prove that the gun is accurate, or in fact even works.
What the hell chance do you have if you wish to challenge that in court ?
It then goes on to say
the recording device shall
"b) be of a type that has been approved by—
(i) the Commissioner or another member of the Garda Síochána not below the rank of Chief Superintendent authorised in that behalf by the Commissioner, or
(ii) the chief executive officer of the National Roads Authority or another officer of that Authority duly authorised in that behalf by the first-mentioned officer,"
in relation to the actual device used to make the recording, if you challenge the device to the Gardai
"it shall not be necessary to prove that the apparatus is of a type so approved"
Therefore, you are told you are speeding, you cannot challenge the calibration of the device, you cannot challenge the working condition of the camera, and according to that paragraph you cannot even challenge whether the device that took the reading is an approved device.
What the hell is that about ?
Finally, if anyone knows how to understand this paragraph, maybe they could give me some advice to pass on..
the final part of the Act says......
"if proof of the offence involves proof of the speed at which a person (whether the accused or another person) was driving, the uncorroborated evidence of one witness stating his opinion as to that speed shall not be accepted as proof of that speed."
The Garda was by herself working when she the reading was taken. Like I said, my friend didn;t challenge it on the roadside, but doesn't agree with the reading. However, I wonder could he challenge the summons on the basis that he and the Garda are in conflict with the reading, and the Garda does not have a second witness to corroborate that she actually showed the correct reading to the driver.
Basically my problem with all this, is that my friend has to now make a choice.
a. Pay the fixed fee fine, and take two penalty points, even though he does not believe he broke the law
b. Await a court date (which if it is over 28 days, he waives his right to accept the fixed fee), go into the court hamstrung by the provisions of the Act as set out above, and possibly face losing the case, whereby he will get a larger fine, and four penalty points, along with having to pay case fees to his own solicitor, and possibly the states fees.
When i brought this up with the Guard, he said that this had already been challenged (i remembered the challenge), and while the District and Circuit Courts had ruled in favour of the person challenging the speed gun, the High Court ruled in favour of the Gardai.
He told me that my friend could challenge it in the Supreme Court if he liked, but obviously risked huge fees if he lost.
Do people think this is fair ?
Should people accept being incriminated by a device that does not legally have to even be in working order ?
(sorry for the post lenght, but I had to give people as much detail as possible )