Tag Archives: motor offences

Are you fit to drive?

Are you fit to drive?

are you fit to drive main blog image

Driving requires a level of skill and the ability to interact with both the vehicle and the external environment. Rule 90, 91, 92, 93 and 94 of The Highway Code states the different factors that can affect a person’s ability to drive safely.

Safe driving requires some of the following:

  • vision
  • visuospatial perception
  • hearing
  • attention and concentration
  • memory
  • insight and understanding
  • judgement
  • adaptive strategies
  • good reaction time
  • planning and organisation
  • ability to self-monitor
  • sensation
  • muscle power and control
  • coordination

 

If a person develops a medical condition that could affect the safety of their driving, they should contact the DVLA as soon as possible. If a driver does not inform the DVLA, they could be fined up to £1,000. The DVLA have listed over 200 medical conditions for which people MAY need to notify them about.

The list below show some examples of conditions in which the DVLA should be informed about:

  • An epileptic event (seizure or fit).
  • Sudden attacks of disabling giddiness, fainting or blackouts.
  • Severe learning disability.
  • A pacemaker or implanted defibrillator device fitted.
  • Diabetes controlled by insulin or tablets that have a high risk of causing hypoglycaemia
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Any other chronic neurological condition.
  • Dementia or a serious problem with memory.
  • A major or minor cerebrovascular event (only if there is residual neurological or cognitive deficit one month after the event).
  • Multiple transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs) over a short period but not single TIA.
  • Any type of brain surgery, brain tumour or severe head injury involving inpatient treatment at hospital.
  • Any severe psychiatric illness or mental disorder including acute psychosis, mania and severe depressive illness if there are features which affect risk to drive safely or suicidal thoughts.
  • Continuing/permanent difficulty in the use of arms or legs which affects your ability to control a vehicle.
  • Dependence on or misuse of alcohol, illicit drugs or chemical substances in the previous three years (do not include drink/driving offences).
  • Any visual disability which affects BOTH eyes (do not declare short/long sight or colour blindness).
  • Narcolepsy or other primary hypersomnia.

 

See GOV.UK Health Conditions and Driving for a full list of potentially notifiable conditions.

Rule 90

Make sure that you are fit to drive. You MUST report to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) any health condition likely to affect your driving.

Law RTA 1988 sect 94

Rule 91

Driving when you are tired greatly increases your risk of collision. To minimise this risk

  • make sure you are fit to drive. Do not begin a journey if you are tired. Get a good night’s sleep before embarking on a long journey
  • avoid undertaking long journeys between midnight and 6 am, when natural alertness is at a minimum
  • plan your journey to take sufficient breaks. A minimum break of at least 15 minutes after every two hours of driving is recommended
  • if you feel at all sleepy, stop in a safe place. Do not stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway
  • the most effective ways to counter sleepiness are to drink, for example, two cups of caffeinated coffee and to take a short nap (at least 15 minutes)

Rule 92

Vision. You MUST be able to read a vehicle number plate, in good daylight, from a distance of 20 metres (or 20.5 metres where the old style number plate is used). If you need to wear glasses (or contact lenses) to do this, you MUSTwear them at all times while driving. The police have the power to require a driver to undertake an eyesight test.

Laws RTA 1988 sect 96, & MV(DL)R reg 40 & sched 8

Rule 93

Slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by bright sunlight.

Rule 94

At night or in poor visibility, do not use tinted glasses, lenses or visors if they restrict your vision.


This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.


 

What to do at the scene of an accident

Rule 283 main blog imagePhoto credit: jf01350 via Visualhunt / CC BY

Rule 283

If you are involved in a crash or stop to give assistance at the scene of an accident you should:

Warn others:

Park your vehicle and then turn your hazard lights on, ideally facing approaching traffic. Also if you have a warning triangle proceed to place this in the road.

If there are other people who can help send them back along the road to wave traffic in order to slow it down. Take care on fast moving roads … Other drivers might not understand what you are trying to do.

Reduce risks:

Check the scene, make sure all engines are turned off,  ensure nobody is smoking at the scene .

Get help:

Arrange for the emergency services to be called immediately with full details of the incident location and any casualties (on a motorway, use the emergency telephone which allows easy location by the emergency services. If you use a mobile phone, first make sure you have identified your location from the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder)

Assess injuries:

move uninjured people away from the vehicles to safety; on a motorway this should, if possible, be well away from the traffic, the hard shoulder and the central reservation

Simple first aid:

  • Don’t move casualties: As you could cause further injury, unless they are in immediate danger from fire or explosion
  • Do not remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it is essential to do so
  • Check for breathing: If the casualty is not breathing, clear the mouth (false teeth, chewing gum, sweets) very gently tilt the head back and, holding their nose, gently blow into them at five second intervals allowing the chest to exhale naturally. See the links below for detailed information and methods.
  • Stop bleeding: Firm pressure on a wound will stem bleeding.
  • Don’t give casualties anything to eat or drink: This can cause complications for medics and delay life saving treatment.

stay at the scene until emergency services arrive. If you are involved in any other medical emergency on the motorway you should contact the emergency services in the same way.

To read more about the Highway Code, click here.


This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.


 

What to do at the scene of an accident
New smoking and driving law

New smoking and driving law

As of the 1st of October 2015 smoking in a vehicle with anyone under the age of 18 will be illegal. The reason for this is to protect children and young people from the dangers that second hand smoke has.

If you are caught smoking in a vehicle while there is anyone under the age of 18 with you, you will be fined. This applies to every driver in England and wales. Even those aged 17 and those with a provisional drivers licence. However the law will not apply to 17 year olds who are on their own in a vehicle.

The department of health have a video that outlines everything you need to know about the new law:  [youtube height=”HEIGHT” width=”WIDTH”]  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jB9zSTlvwY[/youtube]

 

When a child breathes second hand smoke, they are put at risk of thousands of chemicals in the smoke. This can cause serious conditions include pneumonia, meningitis, bronchitis and cancer.

The law applies to any private vehicles even if the windows or sunroof are open .However if you are driving a convertible with the roof down the law won’t apply.

Click here for more information

Foreign Trucks and Driving Without Due Care and Attention

Traffic jamCareless driving.  Or, as I’ve often heard it called driving with undue care and attention which, if I wanted to be really pedantic, probably means driving with more care and attention than is necessary!  Well we won’t go there but it is worth considering issues where the offence may arise.  There are many and indeed I will devote more space to this very wide topic in a forthcoming article.

The motorways seem to be often clogged up with foreign trucks and lorries rumbling up and down the country.  If they are foreign registered trucks then then they will almost certainly be left hand drive and that is reason for exceptional care and attention – both on the part of the truck driver and on the part of the motorist passing one of these vehicles.  The plain fact is that the driver of a left hand drive HGV will have a very limited view of a car that is to the right of the cab.  For all intents and purposes your car in this situation will be invisible.  Probably one needs to be sat in the driving seat of a left hand drive HGV to fully appreciate this for oneself but it makes sense; the HGV is tall and wide, the car is usually low and often small, the foreign driver is sat next to the near side verge and may have nothing more than mirrors to inform him of the position of immediate traffic.  It is potentially quite scary.  Only if the cab is fitted with a camera system whereby there are views to the sides and rear at least will the HGV driver be fully informed of the traffic surrounding him.

So what should the UK car driver do?  The best advice I’ve heard if you come across one of these foreign registered vehicles is to stay a car’s length behind it and, if overtaking becomes necessary or desirable, to do so smartly; get past as quickly as possible in case the lorry pulls out suddenly and collides with your car because that can and does happen.

The driver of a left hand drive HGV who pulls out into the path of an overtaking car may be at fault or he may think he has exercised all reasonable due care and attention given the physical difficulties he too often has; it’s a fine line.  Either way it is of precious little comfort to the driver of a car that’s damaged by a fast moving and very heavy vehicle driven by a driver who may have only a limited command of the English language.  With the police almost bound to be involved in the aftermath of an accident – perhaps leading to an in-depth analysis of any shortcomings in your driving skills there are plenty of considerations to bear in mind the more we see of foreign-registered trucks on British roads.  And the cost to your insurance policy may be another unwelcome consideration that may last long after the collision.

So it is right to exercise the very greatest degree of care and attention in these circumstances; probably no less is due.

Newnham & Jordan Solicitors are able to assist and advise you with regard to a variety of Road Traffic, Driving and other regulatory issues.

 Call us now on 01202 877400

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

 

Foreign Trucks and Driving Without Due Care and Attention
Drug Driving Law – A Minefield For The Unwary

Drug Driving Law – A Minefield For The Unwary

Drinking and driving is never out of the headlines for long but now another driving topic has captured the media’s attention.  The law regarding driving whilst under the influence of drugs has recently seen a big shake up under the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

Drugdriving3

From March 2015 drug driving became illegal if the police can show you are over the limit.

The Government has – perhaps rather late in the day – shone a spotlight on the effect on driving of taking illegal drugs and various prescription drugs.  Some may have seen the Department for Transport TV ad showing a man evidently affected by recreational drugs driving home from a night out and becoming increasingly sweaty, jumpy and generally paranoid about the slightest thing; a flashing blue sign in a shop window, a shadow or a bright light in someone’s house.  The ad ends with a real blue light appearing behind him.

It has long been enshrined in law that driving whilst unfit through drink or drugs is illegal with penalties in keeping with those for drink driving.

Now anyone who takes illegal substances and drives faces a criminal record, loss of their licence for at least a year and a fine of up to £5,000. It’s now illegal to drive with certain drugs in the body above specified levels, including 8 illegal drugs and 8 prescription drugs. But, if you are taking medicines as directed and your driving is not impaired, then you are not breaking the law.

Police Forces have access to new screening equipment to test suspected drug drivers. Officers can test drivers for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside with a disposable device called Drugwipe which works by analysing a small quantity of saliva. The device is able to detect cannabis and cocaine above certain levels but it’s already attracted some controversy, with one of the largest forces, Greater Manchester Police, deciding not to enforce the new law at the present time.

The police can test for cannabis and cocaine and other drugs including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at a police station, even if a driver passes the roadside check. New devices that can test for a greater number of drugs at the roadside will, the Government says, be developed in the future.

The law covers the use of 8 drugs often associated with medicinal use that are sometimes abused.  The permitted levels for these drugs have been set at higher limits based on the available evidence of the road safety risk – and to reflect their use as medicines. These drugs are:

  • Morphine used to treat pain – opiate/opioid based medication will      metabolise (i.e. chemically change) into morphine and show in a blood      result
  • Diazepam
  • Clonazepam
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Lorazepam
  • Oxazepam
  • Temazepam used to treat anxiety or inability to sleep
  • Methadone commonly used to treat drug addiction

Amphetamine, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Parkinson’s disease, became regulated from 14th April 2015 with a threshold limit in blood of 250 micrograms per litre.

The piecemeal manner in which the legislation has been introduced could quite easily lead to confusion amongst drivers at risk of being affected.

The new law has attracted controversy since, as we all know, everyone’s metabolism is different and it is possible that one person will absorb and be affected by a drug differently from another; one person may excrete a drug from their system at a completely different rate from another.  There are, in short, many variables.

Experts say that law-abiding drivers who take over the counter medicines to try and shake off a cold or the flu could find themselves falling foul of the new legislation – even the morning after taking the medication.

Legal over-the-counter medicines could lead to a ban because they can impair drivers’ judgment and slow their reaction times through making them drowsy.

Given that this is potentially a legal minefield drivers accused of the new offence really owe it to themselves to seek out legal advice, especially since the penalties are so severe and may well have a huge impact on the individual’s life and work prospects.  Your lawyer can, amongst other things, offer advice on the possibility of seeking expert forensic opinion with a view to contesting the charge.

The new TV advert ends with the message “Now there’s more reason to be paranoid”.  With the range of new uncertainties there’s probably every reason to be really concerned.

Newnham & Jordan Solicitors are able to assist and advise you with regard to a variety of Road Traffic, Driving and other regulatory issues.

 Call us now on 01202 877400

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for  any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this  article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

The First Drink Driving Commercial – 50 years on…

Don't Drink & Drive
Leave the car keys at home….
It’s that time of year again with the media covering the police drink driving campaigns up and down the country.

In 1964 the drink driving campaign began with an almost light-hearted commercial called Office Party and included what might be regarded now as a somewhat sexist tag line; “Don’t ask a man to drink and drive”.  However there was still no law to govern the precise levels of alcohol permitted when driving.

It was not until 1967 that the permitted alcohol level was enshrined in law with the passing of the Road Safety Act which came into force in October that year and established the 80 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood limit.  Older readers will recall the role of Barbara Castle, the then Minister of Transport, in the passing of the ground-breaking legislation.  The roadside breathalyser bag was introduced and police and drivers alike would wait to see if the crystals changed colour when the bag was inflated.

Of course there were methods of assessing alcohol levels well before the breathalyser; for example in 1927 there as a case which I found reported in 1932 in the American Journal of Police Science where in Marlborough Police Court a Dr Gorsky had instructed a suspect to inflate a football bladder.  From 2 litres of breath examined the doctor found 1.5 litres of ethanol and concluded the suspect was “50 per cent drunk”.  Times were very different in the 1920s, of course, and when it comes to drink driving legislation and practice events have moved on a very long way indeed.

To avoid overloading the reader with technical information I do not propose to discuss here the many advances in breath testing that have occurred in the years since Barbara Castle’s determination to legislate British drink driving habits in the teeth of considerable opposition at the time.  The statistics in terms of the reduction in road fatalities where drink has been responsible have fallen pretty steadily throughout the intervening decades and in 2012 there were 230 drink driving fatalities; a seventh of the number in 1967.

And now the law has changed in Scotland bringing the permissible limit down to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood which really means that drivers north of the border run a considerable risk of exceeding the limit with just one drink.

The Government’s crackdown on drink driving will inevitably – and properly – continue and the messages will be hard-hitting compared to the tentative early effort back in 1964.

If you have the extreme misfortune of getting stopped for driving with excess alcohol be sure to cooperate with the police at every step of the procedure from the roadside to the police station and the testing process there.

By all means seek legal advice whilst at the police station but be aware that exercising your rights cannot delay the alcohol testing procedures; not one bit.

If you are charged with an alcohol-related driving offence you need to assess your predicament and prospects urgently; you may not have long before your court appearance and preparation is everything.   Access to legal advice at this stage is highly advisable and can make the difference between retention of your driving licence or the early restoration of it and, at the other extreme, the loss of your right to drive for potentially a long time.

Michael McGhie at Newnham & Jordan Solicitors is an expert Road Traffic defence lawyer.  Michael will be monitoring voicemails and contact forms over the Christmas and New Year period so if you are unlikely to be caught during the holiday period you will still be able to leave Michael a message in order that he can get back to you with any necessary legal advice for you particular situation.

This article is intended for general information purposes only and  shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice.  Newnham &  Jordan Solicitors cannot accept  responsibility for   any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in  respect of this   article or any external articles it may refer or link to.

The First Drink Driving Commercial – 50 years on…