This Law Shows No Compassion
4th October 2005
I would strongly advise Ms Torrance to avoid court as there is a hidden penalty that she risks if she goes to court (Leicester Mercury, October 1).
I went to court when faced with a speeding fine and penalty points, although I was not offered a road-safety awareness course.
I was speeding to avoid delaying an emergency ambulance in King Richards Road. I was doing 43mph, and the ambulance was recorded doing 39mph, two seconds after me.
The dispensation for emergency vehicles does not cover any other vehicle, so I was breaking the law, and was convicted. I received an absolute discharge because of the presence of the ambulance.
So far, that has only cost me about £1,000 in legal fees, but I still have a clean driving licence. The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act means that I don't have to tell anyone about my criminal record (the speeding offence) once six months have passed from the absolute discharge.
However, the American Immigration service isn't so lenient. When I wanted to travel to the USA, my conviction, even though it is long since "spent", means that I can't enter the USA under the visa-waiver scheme. I have to apply for a visa, in person, in London, each time I get a new passport.
This means that every 10 years, I will have to take another day off work, pay £60 for the visa, plus £9.50 for the passport to be posted back to me, plus travel expenses. I can look forward to applying by post when I turn 80.
All of this doesn't seem to have anything to do with road safety, but it is a consequence of inflexibility of the CPS and the safety camera partnership.
The present enforcement methods are such that we have to be very careful not to break any laws, even if it means endangering ourselves and others.
Others have been prosecuted for failing to observe red lights, or for entering a bus lane, when the only reason they did it was to get out of the way of an emergency vehicle.
My legal advisers never warned me about the consequences of having a criminal record. The advertisements that the ambulance service put on TV don't warn us that breaking the law is never overlooked by speed cameras.
In the heat of the moment, we don't go looking for the yellow boxes because we assume the operators have some compassion. They don't.
Malin Dixon, Carlton.
It never ends!