Wheels Of Justice
The Motorists Who Fought The Law And Won
People power prevails – when ordinary motorists fight the law and win
It seems that nothing irks the British driver more than being unjustly accused of a motoring misdemeanour, and dozens of ordinary motorists are battling Big Brother, greedy councils and over-zealous private parking companies through the courts.
Ever decreasing circles. A Greater Manchester motorist won a court battle against a parking firm who tried to fine him £100 for driving round and round a car park without stopping. The beleaguered driver spent half an hour trying to find a space without success before driving away from Fistral Beach car park in Newquay, Cornwall. He received a demand from a car park firm for £100 two months later, saying he had been caught without a ticket by an automatic number plate reader. He refused to pay and went to court, but a judge threw out the claim because the 31 minutes spent driving around the car park could not be classified as 'parking'.
Not smart. Using underhand methods to catch-out motorists is not clever, according to three motorists from the south of England who took exception to their local authorities’ use of cameras hidden in Smart cars. Mobile CCTV cameras in Smart cars were originally introduced to provide traffic safety outside schools, but have been used to capture motorists who park illegally, even for just a few seconds. The three drivers had fines totalling almost £200 quashed after appealing against ‘unfair’ parking tickets.
When the truth prevails. After a pensioner’s car briefly broke down at Liverpool Airport, he was issued with a parking ticket even though he was able to start his vehicle and move off after just a few seconds. The motorist didn’t rely on fancy legal arguments when he went to court to contest the ticket. He simply told the judge what happened and the case against him, brought by a private parking enforcement company, was instantly dismissed.
Power in numbers. 11 motorists faced a £60 fine and three penalty points after being snapped, along with more than 730 other motorists, by a speed camera on the A66 between Darlington and Middlesbrough. But the drivers had their cases thrown-out after telling the court that a sign advising the speed limit had been reduced from 70 to 50mph was placed AFTER the camera, or wasn’t there at all.
Holy justice, Batman! A furious motorist won his battle against his local council over a pothole, after turning detective. The pensioner was left with a £500 bill after a large pothole wrecked his car’s suspension. When the council refused to accept responsibility for the hole and the damage, he put in a Freedom of Information request and proved the council knew about the hole but had ignored it. A judge awarded the motorist £500 and his legal costs.
Seeing red. A cyclist who challenged a Fixed Penalty Notice issued after he stopped ahead of a cyclists’ advanced stop box because a car was already in the box, was delighted when proceedings against him were dropped. Although he had technically contravened a traffic signal by failing to stop in front of a red light, he argued that the presence of the car in the box threatened his safety and successfully challenged the FPN.
When is a tax not a tax? When a judge says so! Residents in a north London borough won a landmark victory against increased parking charges after a judge decided that they weren’t cash cows. Residents protested after their parking permits more than doubled in price, with the council deciding to use the additional income to meet road maintenance and improvements and other transport costs. But a judge at London's High Court ruled that the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act is not a fiscal measure and does not authorise the authority to charge local residents for parking in order to raise revenue for other transport purposes.
And one whose U-nique defence let him down... motorist Alexis Alexander fought a lengthy campaign to overturn a £65 traffic fine, which threatened to cost councils across the land millions of pounds if he’d won. Mr Alexander was fined after being caught on CCTV doing a three-point turn in a Fulham street where U-turns were prohibited. In his own defence, he argued that because his car was put into reverse during the manoeuvre, he didn’t actually do the prohibited U-turn. He said that the classic 'No U-turn' sign near where he was pictured showed a kink-free, sweeping arrow, indicating a single turn of the wheel. But the judge disagreed, commenting that if Mr Alexander was right, a driver who was 'having a bad day' and failed to complete a turn in the road in one go would be innocent, while more competent drivers who managed a flawless U-turn would face being fined!