Banged to Rights

Banged to Rights

What do you do when you’ve been pulled by the Fuzz? When are you looking at doing porridge and when can you expect a slapped wrist? Worry no more, Superbike’s very own freelance jailbird Bertie Simmonds, goes into the showers, drops the soap and then gets tooled up to find out the answers.

Know your enemy!

Instant appraisal of the situation when your blood’s boiling during a nicking is essential. How do you play it?

Officer Newboy: He’s straight out of Hendon, he’s half your age but still calls you ‘son.’ Forget any back-chat, he’s just off probation, he’s playing it by the book and he has you by the balls. You’re nicked sunshine! Say as little as possible to him. Nicking factor: 10

Officer Oldhand: Your average 30-40-something cop. He doesn’t want to waste time with the paperwork for nicking a scrote like you. Nod, bow, scrape. Listen to his rant and the likelihood is that you’ll avoid a pull. Remember: nowadays even cautions and telling-offs require paperwork. If you’re going loopy at night with no-one around, chances are he’ll spout on, then let you off. Give him attitude and he will enjoy nicking you. Really, he’s a sound bloke. Nicking factor: 6

Officer Bird: She’s female and she doesn’t know one end of a bike from the other. She’ll moan and point to scuffed knee-sliders as if that’s proof that you’ve been misbehaving. Don’t call her ‘love’, just speak in a quiet voice and explain that dressing up like a racer doesn’t mean that you’ve been racing. You are dressed up as a racer because you recognise your own vulnerability. Never, ever patronise her. Don’t be fooled into a slanging match. Nicking factor: 8

Officer Traffic Cop: The others are in Panda cars, but this one can be found in any manner of marked and unmarked cars. Current favourite plain-clothed cars include Subaru Imprezas, the ubiquitous Volvo and the new Skoda RS hot-hatch. He’s wearing a white rather than a blue shirt, with a white cover to his hat. He’s a tasty wheel-man, so be suspicious if there’s someone driving one of these cars up your arse (just ask Chris Walker…). Let them past and then take a look at the motor. His clothing is a giveaway as are two aerials on the car and he’ll have an identically-dressed mate next to him. He’s stopped you, so you’ll have to listen. Oh, and if you’re a member of the IAM or RoSPA, it helps to have any ID from these organizations in your wallet with your licence. They love it if you take your riding seriously. Their pet hates are protective gear from JJB Sports because they are first on the scene at fatals and serious injury shouts. Most are not kill joys. They enjoy a combination of speed and authority. Respect their authority and there is a real chance they will understand your need for APPROPRIATE speed. Police traffic slang for an unrestricted road is a GLF, so if you go like (fill in the missing word yourself, Einstein) but where you are not endangering anyone and you are seen to be reacting properly to the road – they look for riders taking the safety line through corners and if you do not know what that is get on a BikeSafe, IAM or Rospa course. See, it may be worth doing some advanced training if only to get off a tug… They also see their job as educating road-users, so don’t glaze over when they pontificate about things, listen and nod sagely. He may make tell you something you don’t know. By the way, the vast majority of road traffic officers are men and as we’re lazy, they’re less likely to pull you at the end of their shifts, which are mainly every eight hours from 2am onwards, although this can vary from force to force. Summer night blasts may be in order, then…

When can they pull you over?

First thing is remember this: the filth have the power to pull you, pretty much whenever, they need the flimsiest of reasons. Any thing on the bike such as a small number plate, loud exhaust, or a black visor is enough reason for them to pull you. Add to this the fact that they can (and have) pulled bikers when they’ve reason to believe they could have been involved in or witnessed an accident and you can see that they can pull you for pretty much anything. If you want a quiet life, ride a bike that’s largely legal. So, go for plates just a smidge smaller, or pipes that don’t make your ears bleed.

What should I say?

Chances are, he’ll say: “Do you know what I’m stopping you for?” Or, “What speed were you doing?” Don’t incriminate yourself. Say: “At the speed limit.” It’s amazing how many times bikers will ‘fess up and therefore foul-up on this first question. The onus is on him to prove things. Don’t say you didn’t see the speed limit, if in doubt simply ask him what he thinks you were doing wrong and add that you’ll wait for the summons. If you’re a few miles over the limit and he’s in a standard panda car, these things have uncalibrated speedos just like your car so he can’t prove what speed you’re doing. You can tell the Officer in a Traffic vehicle that you will be asking him for his calibration documentation but White Dalton reckon it is better to stay quiet and see if it can be produced as and when you get your summons or fixed penalty notice.

How should I behave?

Sorry, but you do have to be courteous. Don’t antagonise them. Take your lid off, uncross those arms and be pleasant. Think about your body language. Don’t be confrontational.

What should I wear?

If a copper sees you wearing jeans, trainers and a t-shirt on a bike, legal or not, they reckon they will be doing you a favour getting you off the road. You have been warned. Dark visors are illegal if they let in less than 50 per cent of the light, thankfully most coppers are clever enough to realise that a dark visor is a piece of safety equipment and will let it slide if you have a spare clear one with you. If you get tugged at night with no spare, you’re asking for it. The offence itself is unendorsable, so it’s a fine. He can take your visor if it’s to be used in evidence, ( he will need to send it to a forensic lab) but if you admit the offence and sign his notebook to that effect, then he cannot take it off you. Evidence for something you admit? I ask you! He can nick you again if you ride off wearing it. Carry a spare!

Where shouldn’t I act like a twat?

Okay. We like to wheelie, we like overtake, we like to have fun. Here are obvious places not to do it: Schools, Zebra crossings, built-up areas, housing estates, junctions. Do it here and you’re for it. Showing off to crowds usually means town centres, but you’re asking for a large book to be thrown at you. Most moving traffic offences carry a discretionary disqualification, so you’ve been warned! Here’s what the law says on some of our favourite pastimes.

Who are White Dalton Motorcycle Solicitors?

Only the toppest firm of biking legal eagles, that’s who.

Little story for you. 19-year-old lad riding like a twat on his FZ750 Yam. 155mph on a 60-limit A-road, baseball boots and 501s, mad overtakes, the lot. Local fuzz have to block the road with a Police horsebox to make him stop. He’s not nicked the bike, nor is he pissed. He’s just a mad twat. Decent copper tells him that he’s taking his statement under caution when he’s back at home. Copper arrives at the lad’s home and gets out the black book full of ghastly images of spanked-up bikes and bikers. 19-year-old gags and learns lesson. Youngster then proceeds to shit himself daily for six-months while waiting for summons which never arrives. That 19-year-old was Andrew Dalton, now the senior partner of White Dalton. He says: “I thought I was immortal up until then. It was a top bit of policing, I never rode like such a fool ever again. If they would have nicked me – and I was looking at a custodial sentence – I would never have ended up practising law.”

Andrew says “Nowadays the Police could not do that, they are drowned in procedure and Human Rights, but it does go to show good coppers can make a difference. I still ride. I still crash, and I am still alive. The officer involved didn’t want to turn me into a local hero, but wanted a shocking lesson to be learned. “Here endeth the lesson.

Check out their website on: phpstack-54460-310518.cloudwaysapps.com. It has a locator for all the UK with all the fixed and mobile Gatso sites on there, so check it out. It’s also updated every week. Top site, top people. Bell ‘em on: 0800 7836191

Wheelies/Stoppies

We know that a good wheelie means you’re in complete control, but the feds can look at it this way: you’re sacrificing three-quarters of your braking efficiency and almost half of your view ahead. Doing it somewhere public is cool as it’s showing off, but the feds hate this. Some forces like Essex and the Met give wheelies an instant Dangerous Driving tag, while many rural ones have it down as a Without Due Care offence. You may get off if sensible copper sees you do it somewhere quiet and it’s controlled, but if you look wild, he’ll tug ya! White Dalton have also successfully softened the blow in court by arguing the case that the wheelie was involuntary, caused by not being used to the machine and opening the throttle a little too much. Still, you are out of control and it’s your fault.

Remember this: if you’re done for dangerous driving ‘cos you’re endangering yourself and others, then it’s a 12-month ban. You lose all licences you have, car, bike, PSV, HGV and you have to re-take ALL the tests. Stoppies are pretty much the same. If you can prove you were doing it to avoid something in the road, then cool, otherwise you’re balancing the bike on a knife-edge and they reckon that’s bad as you’re not in full control.

Kneedown

Again, this is controlling your motorcycle, but like the wheelie, it’s where you’re doing it that matters most to the cops. Do it on a quiet roundabout and they’ll probably turn a blind eye, do it with traffic on the roundabout and they’ll pull you.

They could pull you in three ways:

  • Not being in proper control of your vehicle: Well, we all know that’s quite the opposite! You are in control, hence you’re doing it.
  • Riding without due care and attention: Again, they’re struggling with that as you have to concentrate to get your knee down on the road.
  • Dangerous driving: They have to demonstrate that you have some intent to be riding with reckless disregard to the safety of other road users. The physics is that during knee-down you’re safer and putting maximum rubber down compared to someone who’s more leant over but not knee-down. They can still get you, though. If you want to make a fight of it in court you need a top bike riding brief, preferably one who can get his or her knee down! First, they can say that you’re: “Failing to use the highway responsibly.” This could mean you’re going round and round in circles. They use this law to shift protesters. They can also collar you on an environmental law, because you’re doing circles and not actually travelling anywhere. You can be pulled for this the same as if you leave your car running. Again, the golden rule is that you should try not to inconvenience any other road user. Knee-down on a road with your head overhanging the oncoming lane could mean a pull, as you’re causing oncoming traffic to move. It could also mean a trip to the mortuary. Oh, and with camera phones all the rage, it’s only a matter of time before such snaps are admissible as evidence!

Overtakes

Dead simple. Don’t do them near junctions. They’ll pull ya! You also stand a very high risk of broken bones.

Speeding

A rule of thumb is to stick to the 30s and 40s. 50mph limits generally signify speed cameras on an accident blackspot so be wary. 60mph B-roads are where it’s at, but forewarned is forearmed. Advanced riding techniques enable you to ride faster and safer on these roads. Remember, cyclists, horseriders and pedestrians are also vulnerable road users. Treat them with respect. A horse weighs more than you and your bike combined and when frightened it will either sprint or kick. Take a horses legs out and the result will kill you, the rider and the horse. You will lose.

If you want to peg it on the motorway, don’t do more than 30mph over the limit or it’s an instant ban.

Noisy pipes

Un-endorsable offence and a maximum £500 fine. If it’s stamped ‘not for road use’ don’t tamper with that and don’t try and stick a BSI mark on it as then you’re ‘uttering false instrument’ which is like changing the cover price of Superbike to a quid and trying to get away with it ‘for pecuniary advantage.’ They hate that. Removing the baffle from the standard can is bad in the eyes of the law as well, as it’s changing the exhaust’s ‘construction of use.’ So, the trick is to use a pipe that’s not too loud and one that doesn’t have ‘not for road use’ on it.

Small number plates

The regulation size is too tedious for words. If you are that worried check out the DVLA’s website which has the full regulations. If your letters and numbers are less than 79 mm tall, your plate is illegal. On motorcycles you’re only allowed a two-deck plate now, not a single deck. You can be pulled for this. Again it’s an un-endorsable offence

Dangerous loads

Carrying a tumble dryer like Chris Moss once did is bad. Again, it’s ‘construction of use’ and the venerable Kawasaki GT750 is not a van. Right Mossy?

Bike unfit for road use

Your bike must be roadworthy to MoT standard. Defects to brakes, tyres, steering etc all carry a three point penalty if the cops spot something wrong. They could also take the bike from you and impound it. Which will cost you £110 for the privilege and £30 a day storage.

Tyres

According to Regulation 27-1A of the 1986 Construction of Use regulation, tyres must be fit for the purpose for which they were designed. So technically, running on knobblies down the M1 is pullable. If it’s a short hop to the green lane, then the copper will probably let you off. Running slicks on the road is using tyres that aren’t appropriate for the use. Cut slicks you may get away with, unless there’s not for road use on the sidewall. Your insurance may well be invalid though.

Gatso and camera offences

First rule, always ask for the photos. With a rear facing camera, it’s hard to prove that it was definitely you on the bike. Your name on your helmet and the back of your leathers is a definite give away, so avoid doing that. You basically have to show the courts that you made your ‘best endeavours’ to find out who was on the bike at the time. So, your best bet is to swop bikes a lot, don’t have one name as registered rider and try to ensure you wear similar kit! The trick is to create a ‘reasonable doubt’ as to who it was riding the bike. Another trick is to register your bike to a business partnership, where you’ve more than one name on the headed paper, but it does not work for limited companies.

What do I do if I crash on diesel or cowshit?

If you crash out on diesel then report it to the Police immediately. Keep a happy-snap camera under your seat hump and take pics. Also, report to the police if you’ve been injured. You can’t claim for the damage of the bike but you can claim money for injuries from the slush fund set up by the Motor Insurers Bureau. For example: if you break your wrist you’re looking at £3-4000.

Basically, people are liable if they dump stuff on the highway. This can be the ‘normal’ stuff like cow shit and mud, but White Dalton has also handled cases where anything from cattle guts to furniture polish was on the road!

Urban myths

All rise, for Lord Justice Lager! We’ve all met him, some pissed-up prat in a pub who knows more about the law than the law does. Here’s a few of myths exposed

  • “You can’t get arrested if the copper isn’t wearing his hat.” – Yeah, of course. So if we knock if off his head we’re safe, right? Bollocks.
  • “Simply say a foreign friend was riding your bike when it got snapped by Gatso, that way you can’t get done.” – Let’s be frank. This is likely to be investigated. If he doesn’t exist and if it can be proved that he wasn’t in the country at the time. This is perjury and the legal system and those in it hate being duped like this. That makes you a Jeffery Archer or a Jonathan Aitken. If you get caught expect a custodial sentence and a bar of soap with hairs on.
  • Riding without a number plate means they can only fine you £30.” – Okay, half right this one. You probably are better off riding without one than a teeny-tiny one once or twice but keep doing it and bad things can happen. If you start doing it too many times then Customs and Excise will get involved and they make the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) look like Sunday School teachers. Do it once or twice and you could say it fell off, keep doing it and they have the power to whack a lovely Q-plate on your expensive superbike. Voila! A bike worth half its original value…
  • “Cover your number plate when parked and you can’t get a ticket.” – What about your tax disc? That’s got your reg number on it? And your VIN plate on the frame? Easy to identify the bike from that! Best thing to do is bag the whole bike up with a cover. Then the police or traffic wardens cannot tamper with your property. Again, they have get-out clauses. If it’s causing an obstruction then the police, traffic wardens and local council can get it moved. The rule is: if your bike keeps showing up in the same place, then they’ll getcha. Be shrewd and move it around…
  • “If you do a runner, it’s best to say the bike was nicked.” – Don’t be daft. Expect this to be investigated properly. Watching re-runs of Quincy and Columbo does not make you a forensic god or a detective. They will be checking for when you reported it stolen as well as looking for hotwiring evidence etc. Pro thieves don’t steal bikes then ride ‘em, they’re stored for later and joyriders don’t care how much damage they do to the bike to nab your bike. It’s up to YOU to prove the bike was stolen and if it’s just slung in a field with no obvious theft damage, you’re going down as we’re back to perjury again. Don’t do it!
  • “If you crash, you can fake whiplash and get loads of compensation.” – Scumbag lawyers are all the rage at the mo’, but don’t be fooled by the ‘injured by trip or fall in the last three years’ nonsense. Much as they’re tempting you to make a claim (and they’ll get your number and ring you after an accident to ask if you will) you have to have the injury to make the claim. Over-acting will be spotted and serious whiplash leaves organic traces on your body for years afterwards. Remember this: if you’re claiming for thousands, they’ll get some private eye to video you for evidence and you won’t even know it. It costs £120 a day to put a tail on you which is peanuts if you’re claiming tens of thousands or even just thousands! Another trick is to use a honey-trap where a young lady is in distress asking for help to change a wheel. You end up doing it and bang goes the claim for having a bad back!
  • “It’s better not to mention any bans when getting insurance.” – Really? Sure, it’s cheaper, but when you have that prang and you send off your licence to your insurers, they’ll spot it and you’re buggered. You’re driving without insurance, effectively. And that’s bad. They’ll refund your premium, pay out any third-party claim and then mercilessly hunt you down, assets and all.

Disclaimer: This article is reproduced from Superbike Magazine – It’s views do not represent White Dalton’s

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Posted on: November 1, 2006 at 12:00 am

Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.

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