Putting your foot down
Robert Verkaik says you don't have to be rich to avoid a speeding penalty
Tuesday 15 February 2005
It's a fair cop. You're stuck in traffic and late for work. As soon as the road clears, you put your foot down and the next thing you know you're being pulled over by the boys in blue.
It may be three more points on the licence and a possible ban, but everyone knows it's hard to beat a speeding rap. So why is it that David Beckham, Colin Montgomerie and Dwight Yorke have paid thousands of pounds to contest their road traffic offences?
The answer is that money can sometimes buy you justice.
Nick Freeman, who has represented the three sportsmen, won about 200 speeding and drink-driving cases last year. "Choosing the right lawyer can make a big difference. You should select someone who not only knows the law but is a good advocate and can establish a rapport with the bench."
In 1999, Beckham was convicted of speeding and banned for eight months but Mr Freeman managed to overturn the conviction by arguing that the England captain was under duress because he was being chased by the paparazzi.
Beckham's former manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, also instructed Mr Freeman when he was accused of illegally using the hard shoulder to escape a motorway traffic jam.Freeman claimed that an upset stomach had made him desperate to find a lavatory. The court ruled in Sir Alex's favour.
Cases such as these give the unsettling impression that there is one law for the rich and another for everyone else. But, of the 200 privately represented cases handled by Freeman last year, about 10 ended in guilty verdicts and half of those he won on appeal. "It's true that it may cost, but it also depends on the law and the circumstances of the case," says the lawyer, who charges a nominal fee to look at the merits of a defence before he agrees to accept instructions. "It's also true that you get what you pay for, and what you get is legal expertise."
How much Mr Freeman charges for this advice he won't say, but his free advice to motorists stopped by the police is: "Agree to produce your documents in seven days but don't sign anything. It's up to the prosecution to prove that you are the driver."
This is less of an issue when it comes to defending celebrities, but it can play a part. Mr Freeman managed to get Dwight Yorke off a dangerous-driving charge by reducing it to one of careless driving. Part of his argument was that the video that had recorded his speeding car had been left on because the officers knew who he was. "It was obvious it was him and there was no reason why they didn't pull him over," he said.
Iain Johnstone, head of road traffic at Tuckers solicitors, says you don't have to be rich to beat the rap. "We have represented a number of people on legal aid who have been acquitted on what many might consider a legal technicality," he says. In one recent case, a Manchester man who drank seven pints of lager before driving into the car in front managed to escape punishment after vomiting on the alcohol-reading equipment in the police station.
All this goes to prove is that ticking the guilty box and sending your cheque to the nearest court is not the only response to a road-traffic summons.
Life & Style blogs
Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
Everyone should watch this boy's reaction to learning he will be a big brother
What do the emojis on Snapchat mean?
Ashley Madison hack: Just three in every 10,000 female accounts on infidelity website are real
A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive + incentives + uncapped comms: SThree:...
£34000 - £36000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Analytics & Reporting Tea...
£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a world leader ...
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...