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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71051
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have been summoned wearing a seat belt. In the process

Customer Question

I have been summoned for not wearing a seat belt. In the process of reversing off my drive I believe that the law states that it is perfectly legal to not wear a seat belt whilst reversing. The question in my case is when is it appropriate to put the seat belt on? My reversing manouvre would take 4 seconds from my drive to the road and a further 5 seconds to the junction to join the road I use daily.
The road I reverse onto is 50yds from a junction. This road is usually congested with parked vehicles, with usually up to 1 car length of space from the junction. In the process of reversing off the drive and to the junction this would take roughly 20 seconds.
On the day in question as I reversed off the drive - I looked ahead at the junction. A car was turning into the road coming in my direction. He flashed his lights and I proceeded to drive to the junction and occupy the remaining space. Additionally, there was another car behind me who would occupy the space I was vacating and therefore allow the car turning from the main road onto the side road to proceed ahead ( i.e keep the road clear and allow him to exit the main road safely)
I stopped at the junction and was about to reach up and secure my seatbelt. At that split second a police car passed the junction so I decided (again in the same split second) not to and to wait until the police car had passed in front of me.
As soon as he had passed I secured my seat belt. I then proceeded to join the main road behind the police car. The officer then waved me in to issue me a ticket. I explained this to the policeman who didn't really listen. The following day I registered a complaint to the Thames valley police about his lack of engagement in the conversation. 2 days later I received an apology from his superior about his lack of engagement.
My question is at what point in the reversing manouvre is it legally appropriate to transit from being legally reversing to illegally driving? Especially when taking into consideration the safety of other road users.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
The issue will turn upon whether or not a court believes it was just a split second. He is probably saying it was not and the risk is that he will believed. Magistrates do generally believe police officer over members of the public.
The transitional point is as soon as you are on the highway and no longer reversing. There is no particular complication in that per se.
This doesn't really turn upon law all that much. It will be a dispute over fact I would imagine.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Jo
I asked the officer to go and have a look at the situation as described. He declined and proceeded to issue the ticket forthwith... but later drove past my house to review. His split second and my split second are actually the same. He can only have seen me at the junction. It is impossible for him to have seen the entire manouvre.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Oh yes, but he will not give that evidence. Officers do regularly claim to have seen things that could not possibly have been seen and Magistrates do often believe them.
Probably this wouldn't be happening if you hadn't complained about him but you can't turn back time now. I am not a great believer in making complaints. I have never found that it has a positive outcome.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
So I am not able to represent that I was legally entitled to be without a seat belt due to reversing manouvre? The office witnessed my putting it on.......?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I reverse off my drive most days legally he could sit at the top of my drive and issue tickets at will ......?!
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
You are able to do that. He may say that it is not so and they may believe him.
Yes, he could sit at the top of your drive although that is not likely. He probably will target you a bit for a short time. That is what happens when you make complaints I'm afraid. It would be nice if we lived in a world where police officers didn't respond in that way but I'm afraid human nature is what it is.
You could avoid it by wearing your seat belt whilst reversing. The law doesn't require it but it would be a precaution if you really think he is likely to do that.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
My Drive is sloped and therefore I have to lift myself up from my seat in order to check the road. I don't mind anyone doing there job correctly. The role of the police is to police by assessing the situation and dealing with it but part of this role is to consider the circumstances. It is only my opinion and I believe he was wrong to issue the ticket and he didn't assess this situation correctly. This was the basis of my complaint to the Thames Valley Police. I find it very worrying that he is employed as a policeman and cannot assess a situation correctly.
If I had been driving and in motion at the time I would certainly expect a ticket. In these circumstances I would not.
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Yes, that is what is in dispute.