POLICE POWERS AND ROAD TRAFFIC OFFENCES

Publication Date01 May 1973
AuthorJ. M. Evans
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1973.tb01366.x
POLICE POWERS AND ROAD TRAFFIC
OFFENCES
IT
is hardly necessary to emphasise the importance
of
the powers
that the police exercise in relation to persons using vehicles on
the road. On the one hand, the prevention of road injuries and
deaths may depend upon the adequacy of the powers of apprehen-
sion and prevention given to the police. But on the other hand,
excessive
or
unwisely exercised powers may result in
a
general
deterioration of relations between the police and the public. An
interesting feature of the legislation in this area is the variety of
devices in addition to the power of arrest that Parliament has
used in an attempt to strike the right balance between individual
liberty and effective law enforcement. Unfortunately, the drafting
of the legislation, in particular the Road Safety Act
1967,
and the
shifting attitudes of the courts have failed
to
provide satisfactory
solutions to a number of issues.
The principal Act covering driving offences
is
the Road Traffic
Act
1960;
only the most serious offence contained in that Act,
causing death by dangerous driving,' is an arrestable offence under
the Criminal Justice Act
1967,
s.
2.
But the Act empowers
a
constable to arrest without warrant the driver of a motor vehicle
who within his view commits the offences of driving recklessly
and dangerously, and of driving without due care and considera-
tion.2
It
is, however, only lawful to arrest under this section if
the driver fails either to give his name and address
or
to produce
his driving licence.8
A
constable in uniform may arrest without
warrant any person driving
or
attempting to drive a motor vehicle
on a road when he has reasonable cause to suspect him of being
1
8.
1.
Manslaughter is also,
of
course, an arrestable offence. The Road Traffic
Act 1972 consolidates the law relating to traffic offences: but references to the
sections
of
the original legislation are retained in this article.
2
8.
228 (2)
(a).
A person may still be the driver of a vehicle even though he is
no longer driving it:
Pinner
v.
Everett
[1969]
3
All
E.R.
257.
5.
228 (2)
(b)
provides
a
similar power
to
arrest cyclists for analogous offences. Although
there is authority for construing the formula used in
8.
228 to include
a
reason-
able suspicion that the offence is being committed-see
e.g. Isaacs
v.
Keech
(19251 2
K.R.
364-the House of Lords in
Barnard
v.
Gorman
119411 A.C.
378 said that this was not necessarily a universal rule of construction, but
depended on the Fpntext of the particular statute.
It
could be argued that the
inclusion
of
the reasonable cause
to
believe
"
formula in
8s.
225 and 226
indicates that the power in
8.
228 should be construed narrowly; on the
other hand, the important preventive aspect of the power supports the wider
construction.
3
Quaere
whether
a
constable may arrest if he reasonably suspects that
a
false
name and addrese have been given.
260

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