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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69519
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Speed signs had been vandalised and we're unreadable. Was caught

Customer Question

Speed signs had been vandalised and we're unreadable. Was caught doing 46mph in a 40mph zone. As road was a dual carriageway and not built up area I thought speed limit would be 50mph. Have elected to go to court but don't know whether to plead not guilty or guilty with mitigating circumstances. Have been informed that if I plead guilty I will definitely get a fine and points regardless of circumstances.
Confused as was technically speeding but signs not legal but can't understand how I could be guilty of speeding if signs not legal?
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Do you mean the 40 mph signs?
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Yes. The first Terminal sign and first repeater sign had been turned away from road. First speed sign seen was a second repeater which is 2.25m short of the minimum clear distance specified for a 40mph zone
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Hi. Had problems with phone last night. Is anybody there to advise on my situation?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
But there are signs with 40 mph displayed?
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Yes, the first Terminal and first repeater 40mph signs are present but have been turned away from the driver (by kids I assume) so that they can’t be seen or read.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
Yes, I understand but where you captured at that point ? Or had you passed another speed sign?
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Oh, sorry, I understand now.
I was captured after passing what would have been the third sign but was infact the first readable sign.
There are issues with this sign too.
It is attached to a lamp post on the other side of a wall and is only visible from 37.75m as the wall slopes down.
Because of these issues I initially thought the sign was relevant to the road on the other side of the wall as it would have been in view to drivers on that road for much longer.
It was a few seconds after seeing this sign that I thought it might be for the road I was on and so decided to slow down. However I had only just started to slow when I was captured.
Hope that's clear?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
It is a defence to say that the signs were inadequate.
There has been quite a lot of very damaging case law on the point though and you should be aware of that. The cases of Peake and Bray have weakened this defence. It now has to be a lack of clarity in the signs that would confuse the reasonably observant motorist.
If you did pass a sign then the Court will say you should have known. If the sign in question might have been missed then that is a challenge.
It depends really whether or not this is an area with a regular pattern of street lighting. If it was then the presumption would have been that it was a 30 mph zone which would make the situation even worse. If it is not then the speed limit would be 60 mph if this is single carriageway unless the 40 mph zone is properly enforceable.
The risk you face is costs if you lose. But if you need to avoid the points then it is an option.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I am definitely fighting this but unsure what to plead. As I was going faster than the limit for that road but had no way of knowing do I plead 'not guilty' or 'guilty with mitigating circumstances'?
My confusion is that I have been told if I plead 'guilty with mitigating circumstances', which technically I am, I will definitely receive points and a fine because I have plead guilty.
I was definitely speeding but all the signs up to speed check were unreadable (first 2) and did not meet local traffic authority specifications by not being visible from 40m (3rd sign)as well as confusing by its position.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
You need to decide upon your appetite for risk.
If you succeed then you will walk away with nothing but nobody can guarantee success.
It is not as simple as showing the signs could improve for the reasons above. It is a high test now.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
A high test? Honestly Jobs, I only need to know as I'm fighting speeding ticket do I start off with pleading 'not guilty' or do I plead guilty and argue the mitigating circumstances to the point of, if possible, Aquital? Never done anything like this b4 and can't afford Solicitor. People saying "take it on chin" but I' m not one to just lie down... especially if I think there is an injustice. No offence, but don't need advice as to my chances if winning just how I go about the fight and what course the fight will go.
Hope you're not offended by my attitude?
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Sorry, but just read back and Jo came out Jobs
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
Well, as I said, you need to decide on your appetite for risk.
If you want a trial you plead not guilty.
Chances of acquittal depend on the signs and obviously I haven't seen them. I would be concerned that there was at least one. You never know with Magistrates. Before the case of Peake I would have said that it was a fairly sure fire winner but that has been very damaging.
If it was visible at all then they could say the reasonably observant motorist would have seen it. In fairness it should be on both sides of the road.
You are taking a risk though. It may well pay off but nobody can guarantee that.
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
I see. So even though I was speeding, even though I didn't know it until last minute, I should plead not guilty for an Aquital? I know you cant say for certain but what would be likely out come of pleading guilty with heavy circumstantial evidence in my favour? The repeater sign that is 2.25m short of the required visible distance and is hidden behind a wall could easily be missed if a motorist was checking his mirrors as it came into view
Expert:  Jo C. replied 12 months ago.
Yes, it is the only way to secure an acquittal.
You don't have mitigating factors. What you have is a defence. if you raise this account and plead guilty they will vacate your guilty plea and set it down for a trial.
I'm happy to continue with this but please rate my answer.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69519
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 12 months ago.
Had a quick look at Peake case but as I'm not legally trained a lot of the legal jargon confused me. The case seemed to hinge in signs "approaching" the road not being clear and one other discrepancy being so small it wasn't worth considering.
Where exactly did Peaked case fall down?
The only signs in my case are the 3 I've mentioned on the actual road, 2 being unreadable even to a reasonably observant driver and the third being easily missed or seen late if you were checking mirrors as it appeared from behind a wall.
Is the 2.25m that that 3rd sign is short of the 40m specified too small a discrepancy to be counted?
As mentioned, I do have a video and photos showing what I am claiming.
Would I send a copy (which I've got) of my evidence to the court at the same time as my plea for the court to consider? My plea is due in 4 weeks time
Expert:  Jo C. replied 11 months ago.
Peake was a stupid appeal to bring. The court was always going to say that 'adequate guidance' doesn't mean total perfection.
You don't need to send in evidence yet but you should gather it in case they put right the failings.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Evidence was gathered a while ago for just that reason. I could probably forward the photos to you if necessary or helpful
That's what I thought had happened with Peake although the summary I read was very wordy, hence my question to you.
Thank you for your help.
I will may be in touch nearer the time if that's OK?
Expert:  Jo C. replied 11 months ago.
Yes, no problem.

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