Think before you speak

Think before you speak

When it comes to gobbing off at coppers and claiming your rights, think very carefully of the repercussions.

I was pulled up for alleged speeding by a very annoying and patronising fifty-something copper, who kept calling me “sir” in a really slimy way.

He was an ordinary copper, still a constable, driving around showing off to his rather prettier younger sidekick. He told me that his speedo showed me travelling at “well over 60mph in a 40 zone” and he was struggling keeping up with me in his diesel Astra. I didn’t tell him he needed a proper police car, not a glorified taxi.

Anyway, I do my homework and I know my rights, so when I asked the copper if his speedo was calibrated he said it was not, and I asked him to show me his camera evidence of me speeding, and he said the vehicle was not equipped with a camera, so I told him he could stick his so called speeding ticket where the sun doesn’t shine.

I think I said to him “Well, that’s you fucked then!” He then got properly arsey, but could not find anything wrong with my bike or my documents but he still kept up with his “you were speeding” bullshit, and he told me I was going to be reported for speeding.

I may have been speeding, but he can’t prove it, so I did get quite sarcastic back. I have now received a summons for exceeding a 40mph speed limit, with no upper speed mentioned, I’m torn between simply ignoring this ticket as it is just a copper getting bent out of shape, but other people have told me that I should go into court just to experience the copper being laughed out of court. Which one of these options do you think I should take?


Oh dear. Neither. You have not played a blinder. The real law is this: the police officer and his rather lovelier colleague can both give evidence of speed. Their uncalibrated speedo may well have been reading 60mph and if they give credible evidence that at an indicated 10mph they were not gaining on you, the magistrates can accept their evidence and you are nicked. The proposition that an uncalibrated speedo is worthless in evidence is a dangerous myth.

Had the speed been less than say 10mph over the speed limit then the speedo evidence would not be likely to be accepted, and this has been established law for getting on for 70 years. As you are about one and a half times the speed limit according to the police officers, and both police officers will say that at the recorded 60mph you were not being gained on, the two police officers both estimating your speed as significantly in excess of the speed limit along with a mechanical reading from an uncalibrated speedo is plenty to prove a charge of speeding.

A much wiser idea would have been for you simply to accept a bollocking, because the police officer knows that this is going to be a technically more difficult prosecution than one dealt with by one of his road traffic colleagues with a VASCAR recording system and a calibrated speedo, but nevertheless, unless you are going to be able to show that the two police officers are lying, and you have no credible evidence that they are, I think you are nicked. As a general proposition if the officer looks ready to give you “firm words of advice”, the best plan is to shut up and listen in – or at least look like you are.

Advising the officer that he is ‘fucked’ has obvious drawbacks. The magistrates are likely to convict, and they will give you no credit for remorse or an early guilty plea if you maintain a not guilty plea. I suspect the copper will get it out in evidence that you were in a state of high minded and incorrect dudgeon and some of your more intemperate words are likely to be read back in court in front of the bench of magistrates.

All in all you could not really have played this much worse. I would be tempted, if I were you, to write in and plead guilty so you still get an early plea sentence discount of one third but the copper by not alleging a speed has made it very likely that he will be coming to court to give his evidence about your speed and to stick his size 1 ls in about your demeanour and attitude. I suspect the old sweat copper has done this deliberately because while you may feel you know your rights, the copper probably knows rather more about the criminal process of motoring offences than your forum wisdom equips you to, so he has you by the short and curlies.

I suspect your sage words to the constable may well be repeated to you under the breath of the copper after you’re convicted. You need to be very sure of yourself before you start goading police officers and even then, it isn’t a brilliant idea.

Andrew Dalton

Fast Bikes December 2018

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: November 19, 2018 at 5:15 pm

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.
Disclaimer: The legal advice and statements contained within this/these articles is correct at the time of printing. If you are seeking legal advice after a motorbike accident please contact us to speak directly with one of our lawyers.


  1. Peter WalkerMay 10, 2019

    Sage advice. Trying to be funny with the police in those circumstances is asking for trouble.

  2. I was told a long time ago that, if in the opinion of 2 officers that you were exceeding the speed limit, then they can nick you (or at least try)
    Hardly ever in the history of mankind has it worked out well to give a police officer a load of attitude. At the very least, your chances of being let off with a bollocking versus a nick have been severely reduced, and at worst you may be “upgraded” to something like dangerous driving

  3. I still would go to court and argue that the old copper was out to impress his younger sidekick and tell the judge that you was not speeding and stick to it . If the law goes on two coppers are right an one civilian is wrong then the law is ( lots ppls say ass) this should not be found guilty with out evidence as just the coppers word for it is wrong .. if this was the case then all the coppers have to do I walk down the high street see some one and say he mugged that old lady last night last arrest him don’t need evidence just my word for it is enough …

  4. Andrew DaltonMay 31, 2019

    You might indeed do that Iain and the only real downside will be that your costs and fine will go up but not the points. The Courts readily accept an estimate of speed from a police officer, corroborated by another officer and the non calibrated speedo, but the moral of this story was really to patiently suck up the bollocking, look sheepish and go on your way. Escalation rarely helps when dealing with officialdom. I can and have challenged officers when they have pulled me over – hasn’t happened for a few years though. The last time I got a bit cross with a copper I got nicely deflated. I saw a marked police car on the North Watford Bypass, a well known rush hour radar trap. I slowed to 40 mph – the speed limit and a copper pointed at me. I stopped and immediately said “I was bang on 40” and he said “I know. The bloke behind you wasn’t though and I think I am going to eyesight check him too as he came charging up behind you and didn’t notice my dayglo green and reflective blue car” – and then nicked the rather sheepish looking bloke in the 3 Series BMW behind me. In fairness, you’d have had to be blind to miss the police car but he’d been nicking people all morning. It is quite terrifying how unobservant many drivers are.

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