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It is rather heartening to know that occasionally Magistrates can apply common sense in order to escape the strictures of the law’s nonsense. Speeding is what is known as a ‘strict liability’ offence. If the signs tell you not to go above the speed of say 30 mph then you are committing a criminal offence if you travel at the speed of say 33 mph. In this situation there is no legal defence, ignoring of course all temptation to describe PC Plod in less than complimentary terms!

But what if the signs were confusing, which led you to believe that the limit was 40 mph and not 30 mph? Well that will lead to an acquittal, if the Magistrates believe you.

“I’m not pleading guilty” said one motorist when asked how does she plead to the charge of driving at 40 mph in a ‘temporary’ 30 mph zone. “ I’m a teacher not a criminal”, she said matter-of-factly. “We believe you” said the Magistrates, after 15 minutes of deliberation. “You’re free to go. You’re not guilty”. It is difficult to conceive how the motorist resisted the temptation to reply “I know!”

Even though TFL officials ‘knew that the signs were confusing’ it took them more than 3 months to install new signs. TFL have since ‘confirmed’ that the confusing signs were checked and approved by the Metropolitan Police. Oh! That’s alright then!

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