Monday, 4 February 2008

Ipswich Magistrates Court

In December 2005 I was caught by a camera on the dual carriageway inner ring road in Birmingham doing 41 mph. The speed limit on that road is 40mph, but I didn’t realise this stretch was 30mph. In April 2007 I went to overtake a car on a straight stretch of A road in Norfolk. He accelerated and I was forced to exceed the limit to get past, I was flashed by a hidden mobile camera unit. In October 2007, I was photographed doing 49mph on an A road that I didn’t realise had a 40 mph limit on that straight. In July 2008 a mobile camera snapped me doing 64mph on a dual carriageway about 100 yards before it was legal to do 70.

Ipswich Magistrates Court April 22nd - Pleading for Exceptional Hardship to escape mandatory 6 months driving disqualification.

It was astonishing. I'd rehearsed this scene in my head on and off for a year and a half (it's a very long boring story), talking to a stern, morose, heartless bastard who would take my car away from me for six months for doing 64 about 100 yards before it was legal to do 70 and two months before it wouldn't have mattered as the oldest points would have expired. I had pages of mitigating circumstances, having to prove 'Exceptional Hardship', not so much for me, but for other people. I had letters from charities, photographs, maps, hospital reports, you name it. Six powerful arguments - and all, I hasten to add, true. Met the barrister an hour before and he said not to push it, go with two - the work and the charities.

When it got to it, it was like going to see a particularly sweet and fair headmaster who totally understands your position and laughs at your jokes. He hardly needed any persuading, was very sympathetic and said that a ban would be 'entirely disproportionate'. He was about to let me off, when he suddenly paused and said, ' Wait a minute.' My heart stopped. 'If I let you off this means that you'll still have 12 points on your licence and will have to be driving around for... let's see... another TWO YEARS with this sword of Damocles hanging over your head, because you won't be able to argue this again, you'd be banned straight away, and let's face it it's almost impossible to avoid being flashed these days, cameras everywhere (verbatim I swear). What if I disqualified you for, say, fourteen days, then you'd just have a fortnight off, after which all the points would be wiped from your licence, would you rather do that?'

He gave me the choice! I mean I couldn't have thought of a better outcome in my wildest dreams! After ALL THAT WORRY. Just shows - smile, it may never happen.

So Jude's my slave for a fortnight, I'm going to sit in the back of the car and say 'Are we there yet?' all the way to Norfolk.