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Thread: Speeding offence nonsense and fixed penalties

  1. #1
    Politics.ie Member rockofcashel's Avatar
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    Default Speeding offence nonsense and fixed penalties

    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"

    http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/ZZA12Y2002S21.html


    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,"


    but

    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

    or

    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 ?

    Opinions please.

    (sorry for the post lenght, but I had to give people as much detail as possible )
    1,197 people agree with me.. how many agree with you ?

  2. #2
    Politics.ie Member Catalpa's Avatar
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    Surely and in the name of God in this day and age car manufactures should be made to design cars that cannot exceed 60mph?

    60mph is a mile a minute and IIRC 88ft per second!

    I think any vehicle designed for travel on public roads should not be capable of exceeding this limit anyway.

    Speed kills.

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    Politics.ie Member rockofcashel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpa
    Surely and in the name of God in this day and age car manufactures should be made to design cars that cannot exceed 60mph?

    60mph is a mile a minute and IIRC 88ft per second!

    I think any vehicle designed for travel on public roads should not be capable of exceeding this limit anyway.

    Speed kills.
    I agree with you there Catalpa, but that is not the issue of the thread. That is an issue for a different thread.

    The issue under examination here is ...

    should a person be expected to accept a conviction based on the reading of a device which, according to the law need not even be in working order ?
    1,197 people agree with me.. how many agree with you ?

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    Politics.ie Member Catalpa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockofcashel
    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpa
    Surely and in the name of God in this day and age car manufactures should be made to design cars that cannot exceed 60mph?

    60mph is a mile a minute and IIRC 88ft per second!

    I think any vehicle designed for travel on public roads should not be capable of exceeding this limit anyway.

    Speed kills.
    I agree with you there Catalpa, but that is not the issue of the thread. That is an issue for a different thread.

    The issue under examination here is ...

    should a person be expected to accept a conviction based on the reading of a device which, according to the law need not even be in working order ?
    No would be my opinion.

    No doubt about it though the Traffic Laws are a mess!

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    Dear God Catalpa, 60 mph isn't a ridiculous speed. Anyway, if you'd read the post properly, you see the lad was doing 64kph or 40 mph. 40 mph used to be the limit in 60 kph zones, so if true, it sounds like a really borderline case.
    In the UK you're generally allowed 3mph plus 10% of the speed limit above the limit. So in a 40 mph zone you'd get away with 47 mph.
    Sounds like he met a right cow
    grrrrr

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    Quote Originally Posted by rockofcashel
    The issue under examination here is ...

    should a person be expected to accept a conviction based on the reading of a device which, according to the law need not even be in working order ?
    I think that the issue is a matter of conscience.

    The OP does not say why the driver felt he was not exceeding the limit. Was this feeling based on having observed the reading on his speedometer? Given that most speedos are set to over-read a bit, it probably would have been indicating about 70kph if he was doing 64. A big enough visual difference to notice.

    If he he was breaking the law, he should accept the conviction & should not try to get away it on a technicality.

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    Politics.ie Member rockofcashel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dubliner
    Quote Originally Posted by rockofcashel
    The issue under examination here is ...

    should a person be expected to accept a conviction based on the reading of a device which, according to the law need not even be in working order ?
    I think that the issue is a matter of conscience.

    The OP does not say why the driver felt he was not exceeding the limit. Was this feeling based on having observed the reading on his speedometer? Given that most speedos are set to over-read a bit, it probably would have been indicating about 70kph if he was doing 64. A big enough visual difference to notice.

    If he he was breaking the law, he should accept the conviction & should not try to get away it on a technicality.

    The difficulty is not whether or not its a matter of conscience Dubliner, its a matter of law.

    Its not even a matter of whether the Guard was a cow or not, though I did meet her at the station, and she wasn't the friendliest (funny considering she was on triple time), its a matter of law.

    I couldn't honestly believe it, but the Road Traffic actually says, the device on which a person is convicted i.e. is an electronic device, and "and it shall not be necessary to prove that the electronic or other apparatus was accurate or in good working order"

    The thing could be in bits, and technically, you cannot challenge its reading.

    I think I read a story of the Daily Star once looking at this subject, and they clocked a cow moving at 35 mph.

    As far as Zhirkovs calibration conundrum goes, legally it needed be calibrated at all.

    Acoording to the way the Garda told me the machine worked, a Guard can concievably show a whole series of drivers, a reading that was taken from someone else... and you cannot challenge them on it

    This, IMO, is no grounds for convicting someone. A person on 10 points could lose their license, possibly their job, on the basis of a piece of equipment that does not work.
    1,197 people agree with me.. how many agree with you ?

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    Politics.ie Member Libero's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rockofcashel
    Should people accept being incriminated by a device that does not legally have to even be in working order ?
    The ideal situation would be for the Gardai to have equipment, regularly inspected (and a written record thereof), that prints out a record of the speed recorded, time of day, etc.

    Even more ideally, it would incorporate visual evidence that the car in question was the one recorded doing a certain speed.

    Problem is, we are some way from having such an ideal system, and I don't think that the rest of Europe is miles ahead of us. I think all countries rely on systems that to some extent rely on the honesty and diligence of police officers.

    It's easy to point to the shortcomings of the current system but apart from what I outlined above, what is the alternative? That we allow any and all speeders to put Gardai to proof and force them to prove - beyond a reasonable doubt - that on one particular day at one particular time, one particular piece of equipment was in perfect working order?

    That comes close to asking the Gardai to prove a negative (i.e. prove that the equipment wasn't faulty), and in the context of our national crisis of road deaths and injuries, I don't think it's too much to have faith in our police that they don't, as a matter of reasonable doubt, get things wrong and don't use decrepit equipment.

    Certainly, when it comes to other summary offences before the District Courts, the evidence of Gardai is taken as something close to gospel unless there is evidence that they were mistaken or had it in for someone.

    Why should road traffic offences be carved out as different from all the other summary offences? Why should a youngfella on an assualt charge go down on the eyewitness evidence of a Garda but the rich driver with his non-legal aid solicitor and barrister gets to treat the Garda as being prone to error or malicious prosecution?

    Like I said, I see the problems with the current system but I don't see a less ******************************ed-up realistic alternative.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rockofcashel
    Quote Originally Posted by Dubliner
    Quote Originally Posted by rockofcashel
    The issue under examination here is ...

    should a person be expected to accept a conviction based on the reading of a device which, according to the law need not even be in working order ?
    I think that the issue is a matter of conscience.

    The OP does not say why the driver felt he was not exceeding the limit. Was this feeling based on having observed the reading on his speedometer? Given that most speedos are set to over-read a bit, it probably would have been indicating about 70kph if he was doing 64. A big enough visual difference to notice.

    If he he was breaking the law, he should accept the conviction & should not try to get away it on a technicality.

    The difficulty is not whether or not its a matter of conscience Dubliner, its a matter of law.

    Its not even a matter of whether the Guard was a cow or not, though I did meet her at the station, and she wasn't the friendliest (funny considering she was on triple time), its a matter of law.

    I couldn't honestly believe it, but the Road Traffic actually says, the device on which a person is convicted i.e. is an electronic device, and "and it shall not be necessary to prove that the electronic or other apparatus was accurate or in good working order"

    The thing could be in bits, and technically, you cannot challenge its reading.

    I think I read a story of the Daily Star once looking at this subject, and they clocked a cow moving at 35 mph.

    As far as Zhirkovs calibration conundrum goes, legally it needed be calibrated at all.

    Acoording to the way the Garda told me the machine worked, a Guard can concievably show a whole series of drivers, a reading that was taken from someone else... and you cannot challenge them on it

    This, IMO, is no grounds for convicting someone. A person on 10 points could lose their license, possibly their job, on the basis of a piece of equipment that does not work.
    I believe that they changed the law some time ago so that the guards wouldn't have to demonstrate that their machines were functioning properly. They did this because the guards were unable to confirm that they were, indeed, working properly and this was having an adverse effect on their conviction rate. Cool, huh?
    The same philosophy applies when dealing with the government in other areas.
    grrrrr

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    Politics.ie Member rockofcashel's Avatar
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    The thing is Libero, we do have the equipment. Speed Cameras, as opposed to speed guns, print a photograph, and this details the speed at which the picture was taken. That is documentary proof.

    The difficulty I had, was that the Act specifically outlines that

    a. The speed gun need not be accurate

    b. need not be working properly

    c. need not even be an approved type of camera for the job its used for

    as well as that, a Garda should not be able to offer an opinion on the speed of the car, unless they have corroborating evidence from another party.

    And by the way, every supermarket in the country has an electronic scanner that can print out details of grocery items (not the till, a hand-held scanner for Shelf Edge labelling). Also credit card machines can print reciepts.

    If you are trying to convince me that a speed gun could not have this easily incorporated into it, then pull the other one, it has bells on it.
    1,197 people agree with me.. how many agree with you ?

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