If you get caught riding with your helmet off, it always pays to use your head…
My mum was suddenly taken very ill with her second serious stroke so when my sister called me I raced to the hospital on my bike to see her.
I parked my bike, I admit, badly. I had inadvertently put my bike to the side of an ambulance bay, but luckily the receptionist remembered me and knew who I was visiting so she came up to the ward to tell me to move my bike.
I felt a bit flustered and embarrassed. I jogged down to my bike, started it up and rode it for almost 150 yards across the car park to park it properly. I had left my helmet by the side of my mum’s bed. An obviously very bored and officious police officer in casualty was waiting for me and started to scold me in a very humiliating way. I told him, probably unwisely, that this all happened on private land and he had no jurisdiction.
He then demanded Identification from me which I initially refused and he then said that he would arrest and cuff me there and then and I could reflect upon my behaviour overnight in the cells. So I gave him my details, I have now been summonsed for riding a motorcycle without my helmet, but surely I cannot be nicked for riding in a hospital car park with my helmet off.
I’m not the kind of person who’d typically see a lid as an optional piece of protective clothing, I get it’s significance, but this was a pretty exceptional circumstance and my own safety was the last thing on my mind at that time, I know it was wrong, but it’s not as if I was riding down a public road or riding erratically. Am I in a position to challenge the anticipated charge that’s likely to come my way?
Unfortunately you have played this one badly. The hospital car park is an area to which the public, for visiting a hospital, have complete access so in law it has the same status as any other public road. The officer seems to be a bit heavy handed, especially when considering your personal circumstances at the time, but you had parked your bike in a way which you admit obstructed an ambulance bay. You told me you did not block it, but it would have caused difficulty. I suspect that you had already annoyed this officer.
As a general rule of thumb if a police officer starts scolding you he is not going to write you up. There is an unwritten rule that you either get a bollocking or a fine, but not both. Or if so, you really are unlucky, if you had not escalated the situation you might well have got a few words of, perhaps not especially friendly, advice. But that’s where things could have ended, and I’m sure in hindsight you wish to have just taken his ticking off and got back to your family.
The police officer does have a general power under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act to arrest you if he has reasonable cause for asking you to identify yourself and you fail to do so. On the positive side, you will not get any points on your licence, and if I were you I would plead guilty, set out to the magistrates the particular circumstances that you found yourself in, apologise, possibly even by letter, but I would suggest that you go to the Magistrates’ Court yourself.
If you go not guilty the police officer will be able to give evidence of your parking in an ambulance bay in a busy hospital which is not a good look. Show them that you have learnt the error of your ways. As a general proposition if you go to the Magistrates’ Court, dress to show the court respect make sure you look respectable, lose any piercings and generally hang your head in shame about what you have done, and the magistrates will give you a much easier time than if you looked like one of their ‘regulars’.
A note from your mum’s GP confirming the hospital admission and the nature of her serious Illness will make you look more like a concerned son than the initial impression which will be, I am afraid, of a gobby bell end. Reinforce the impression of a concerned son who reacted In a thoughtless way by putting on a tie, digging out a jacket and looking respectable. You never know your luck.
Fast Bikes April 2018