Your basic Rights... if you get stopped by the Police.


We cannot give any more than some basic guidance here.  [The action taken by a Police Officer in respect of any Motoring related offence is (or should be) based on National guidelines from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) along with any local  policies... guidelines... procedures.]

However... there is no 'National Standard' when it comes to dealing with speeding offences.  There is a huge difference between individual Constabularies... each setting their own 'procedures'.  Some... aim for 'best practise'... others just adhere to the minimum legal requirements.  [Note: the Law is very complex... and they nearly all have conditions attached... or exceptions to the rule.  So, just use this as your starting point, for guidance only.]

This section is specifically concerned with procedures relating to the use of patrol cars... and situations where a person is actually stopped at the time.  By following these basic guidelines... you should minimise the risk of being issued with a ticket.  And if a ticket is issued... and you decide to challenge it... you will have avoided harming your case... and prepared the ground for your defence.  You could print this out... keep a copy in your glove box... then you have an good reminder... and can easily fill in any answers next to the questions.  Relax... openly read your notes before answering any question... let them see that you are well prepared!


So... in the event that you get stopped by the Police...

Remain Calm.  Always be... cooperative: polite: and respectful.  Listen to what they are saying.  Say as little as possible.  The Police do have discretionary powers and might let you off with a Warning... so don't give them a load of backchat and talk yourself into a ticket.  [At this stage you want to be totally 'un-memorable'... so that the Officer makes as few notes as possible about your encounter.  This may be to your advantage if any details are later disputed in Court.]

Do not Lie.  You must give them your Name: Address and Occupation... if you refuse they can arrest you.  Otherwise they can only arrest you for serious offences, like drink-driving.  If you have a genuine reason for speeding say so: [not... "I was in a hurry"] but maybe... I'm carrying someone in need of urgent medical attention.

NEVER... produce your driving licence.  Even if you have it with you.  This seems to be taken as an admission of guilt.  Take the option of producing it at a Police Station within seven days instead.

NEVER... admit Guilt!  Say as little as possible!  Their evidence may not be watertight, so they may be relying on you to admit to the offence.  For instance... one officer on his own who says he saw you speeding... is insufficient evidence.  Two officers who say they saw you speeding might be enough in some circumstances.  A normal patrol officer who says he followed you... may not have any video evidence... or a calibrated speedometer.  If it is one of the Traffic Police cars, there is a good chance they will have some kind of evidence... and it's their job to catch drivers... which means there is less chance of them letting you off.

They may ask you why you did... "such and such".  By offering an explanation... you might inadvertently admit to the offence they are asking you about.  So... be very careful what you say... anything you say, really can be taken down and given in evidence against you!

Your Response.  Try to put the ball firmly back in their Court... say something like... "I'm sure... as a serving Police Officer... you appreciate that it is not within my self-interest to admit to anything.  So... why don't you just show me the evidence you have, first... and we'll proceed from there".  And then... STOP TALKING!!!

If their evidence is insufficient... and you're obviously not going to incriminate yourself... they may just give you a warning and let you go.  


FPN and NIP.  Alternatively... they may have some evidence and proceed by issuing you with a Fixed Penalty Notice [FPN] or a Notice of Intended Prosecution [NIP.]  Under the law the legal minimum that you have to receive before a Summons is a Verbal "Notice of Intended Prosecution" [NIP.]  The words are not clear and may confuse you.  They will be something like...

"You will be reported for consideration of the question of prosecuting you for this offence."  And that may be all you hear before a Court Summons drops through your letter box.

If you have anything to say for yourself make sure that, you say it after the verbal NIP.  The traffic officer has a duty to record your response to the verbal NIP.  [Following the High Court ruling in the "Yorke and Mawdesley" case (31st July 2003), you may have a right to refer to PACE ("The Police and Criminal Evidence Act") after you receive the verbal NIP.]

Caution.  If you are "cautioned" by the Traffic Officer... this is what you can do to "buy yourself some time".  The High Court ruling in the "Yorke and Mawdesley" case [31st July 2003] means that you may have a right to refer to PACE, even if... you are not cautioned by the officer.

The officer may ask you to come and sit in the back of his car.  If you have a passenger ask them if they will join you in the patrol car... so that they can act as your witness.  The police officers probably wonít like this... but you are entitled to have them there with you.  If they refuse... ask them to write it in their Notebook.  You asked... they refuse!

Don't forget that police officers are public servants and they have a basic duty to assist the public.  Don't feel intimidated by them.  Tell them that you need to make notes... and ask them if they can lend you a pencil and some paper.  [Ideally... have this printed out... and keep a pen or pencil in your glove box... then just ask the questions and fill in the answers as you go.]

Keep calm, be polite and take your time to think about what you are saying and doing.  Get ready to ask questions and make notes.  Ask them to explain why...  

"they picked on you"... rather than other vehicles you saw doing the same thing.  [Under the provisions of the Human Rights Act they will need a coherent explanation... "because you have got a flash car" isn't good enough these days.]

Ask to see the evidence and get them to explain how the equipment works and show you the markers that they used on or near the carriageway.  Don't forget the patrol car's equipment will have been manually operated and there is room for human error.

Note.  Make your own notes at the time. Time: Date: Location.  Ensure that you record the name and numbers of the officers concerned and the name of the inspector that they report to.  Note everything he said to you and you said in reply.  If you requested something and he refused, note this... and ask him to note it in his book.

  • Time: Date: Location.
  • Check what type of officer stopped you... 
    [make a note of their physical appearance.]
  • Ordinary Police... Name and Number... or
  • Traffic Police... Name and Number... +
  • The Inspector they report to... Name and Number.

And the type of equipment they used...

  • Make...
  • Model...
  • Serial Number...
  • Ask to see the speed displayed.
  • Ask when the equipment was last calibrated.
  • Ask if the officer calibrated the equipment at the start of his shift... 
  • If yes... ask if you can see this fact noted in his Pocketbook.
  • If he refuses make a note of this.
  • Ensure that your explanation for your actions has been recorded.  [Don't just say you were "running late"... "trying to catch a train"... or any such thing.]
  • Explain that you will need a copy of your traffic video for independent verification... although you shouldn't expect them to like that!
  • Ask what speed you are to be prosecuted for... if it isn't obvious.
  • If it is an unmarked car ask how fast they were going and whether that is allowed without warning lights... get them to explain their procedures to you. 
As we have already said there is a great deal of difference between the law and police procedure and you need to understand that.  For example, some Constabularies instruct their officers to perform a one mile "follow check".  Under the law that isn't strictly necessary. 

The law doesn't mention traffic videos either but according to Chief Inspector Peter Fouweather who is in charge of Gwent Constabulary's Traffic Department, their traffic procedures state that if the ProVida video recording equipment is installed in the patrol car and the Traffic Officer is qualified to use the equipment then it must be recording whenever the vehicle is being driven.  [Please note: these procedures are liable to change at any time.]


What you can say and do if you are cautioned...

The Caution
"You do not have to say anything... but it may harm your defence if you do not mention now something you later rely on in court.  Anything you do say may be given in evidence"

The Verbal NIP
"You will be reported for consideration of the question of prosecuting you for this offence."

[If a verbal warning is given at the time... it must be shown that the defendant understood it (Gibson v Dalton: 1980.)  Proof that they understood the charge will lie with prosecution.]

Use the following words immediately after the caution or verbal NIP - [Note... you must say them precisely... so copy them out and keep them in your car.]

Your Response
"I do not recognise the significance of those words... and I would like to exercise my legal right to refer to PACE"... [The Police and Criminal Evidence Act.]

This will cause two things to happen...

1. They will probably treat you with a great deal of caution and respect... [if they weren't doing so already...]

2. They will have to hand you a copy of PACE, which is a very thick and complex document.  [Not many patrol cars actually carry a copy of PACE so the first thing they will probably have to do is radio to the station and ask someone to bring them a copy!]  Then you can sit in the back of the patrol car and read it for as long as you like and they canít continue until you have finished.  [Cross your fingers and hope they get an emergency call... and they have to leave.]

Remain polite... but make it obvious that you are going to fight your case, every inch of the way.  [Let them know that you are... a very slow reader... but this is very important to you... and you are not going to be rushed just because it is inconvenient for them!]  Human nature being what it is... they may decide that you are going to be too much trouble... and [if it is within their powers] just give you a warning instead.  If they manage to out-wait you... stop reading... then tell them... "No... sorry... I still don't understand it!"


For more Information...

UK Driving Secrets.  Downloadable ebook written by a Traffic Officer with years of on-the-job experience... it gives Legal tips on all aspects of driving... getting stopped... appealing against various tickets... and taking the fight to Court.  [The kind of Information that an ordinary Solicitor probably wouldn't tell you about.]

Beat the Wheel Clampers.  You won't have to argue with the clamping thugs.  And you won't have to fill out lots of complex paperwork.  Just pay the fine as normal, then send off a simple template letter.  Your money will be refunded within a couple of weeks.  [You'll need this info before you get clamped.]

Drink Driving Facts Kit  Not that we in any condone Drink-Driving... but if you have been breathalyser and you need some legal advice... this is a good place to start.  Why pay a Lawyer to give you information when you can download all the essential facts for a fraction of the price? [Also gives some interesting facts and figures about Drink-Driving.]



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