Prosecution by mobile phone

Prosecution by mobile phone

I am sure readers of Bike are wise enough not to use apps that show on social media their riding patterns, or otherwise invite thieves to know the exact pattern of movement of their motorcycles. But such apps do exist, for the dull witted.

There are other apps which track your ride for reasons such as anti-theft, or so your family can tell if you are moving or you are not. The point is any app which records your movement can be used as evidence.

The mere recording of a speed in excess of the speed limit on an uncalibrated app would not convict you of speeding. The rules for proving speed preclude this but on the positive side it could be useful in bringing into reasonable doubt a prosecution case if you can show a speed lower than that of which you stand accused.

However, following a change to speed detection device algorithms false readings are now vanishingly rare. I am mistrustful of insurers. For young drivers the speed, location and nature of use of a vehicle are recorded by ‘black boxes’.

With an app you are volunteering to keep that information, if push came to shove an insurer might be able to force that information out of you if a claim became litigated. I have seen claims rejected because of slightly exceeding mileage based on MoT certificates so why give insurers the potential to mine into every mile you have ridden?

My view is that any app which records your speed over time as well as location is a dangerous thing. It gives data to any thief who might wish to benefit from that information, particularly if your phone is stolen and data mined. It could also form part of a police case against you for an offence which involves speed but it is not actually speeding, the obvious example being dangerous driving or driving without due care.

Any recording app can place you with accuracy at a time and place and if there is a complaint about a motorcyclist riding badly at a location and at a time which is proven by your tracking app then a prosecution’s job has become easier.

However, it would have to be a technologically savvy police officer who seized your mobile phone. It is now common practice to seize mobile phones when the keeper is involved in a serious accident. If you are taken away from the side of the road by an ambulance the police will sweep up all of your belongings, and there is nothing stopping them interrogating your phone for evidence, in the same way that they can view any video camera fixed onto your bike.

However, if your phone is password protected there is nothing the police can do to force you to give your password. The worst they can do is ask the court to draw ‘an adverse inference’ from your failure to open your telephone but you do not have to prosecute yourself.

Andrew Dalton

Bike Magazine January 2018

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: March 26, 2018 at 11:22 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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