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Title: Fined for flashing warning lights

Date: 09 August 2013

Question

After seeing a police motorcycle at a roundabout I flashed some other bikers as I headed away. They were not speeding in my view but I was then followed by another police motorcyclist. He stopped me and gave me a fixed penalty notice saying I had perverted the course of justice and prevented the police from doing their duty! I have searched the highway code and cannot find anything about using headlights to warn other drivers as being wrong. Can you confirm if they were able to fine me as if not I will be complaining.

Anonymous, Birmingham

Answer

I cannot find an offence of misuse of headlights. I think that it could be a catch-all heading. Regulation 27 of the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulations looks like (despite the confusing wording) it could cover the offence:

“Restrictions on the use of lamps other than those to which regulation 24 refers. No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, on a road any vehicle on which any lamp, hazard warning signal device or warning beacon of a type specified in an item below is used in a manner specified. Headlamp (a) Should not be used so as to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other persons using the road. (b) Should not be used so as to be lit when a vehicle is parked.”

There is an offence of warning others of a speed trap. Two cases I have found are:

“(i) Warning the driver of a motor vehicle who is driving in excess of the speed limit that there is a speed trap amounts to obstructing a constable in the execution of his duty contrary to s.89(2) of the Police Act 1996: Bastable –v- Little [1907] ;

(ii) Betts –v- Stevens [1910] – but it should be noted that (a) there must be some act of warning and (b) there must be evidence that the driver was breaking the law.”

The office probably had in mind the case of Bastable when he gave you the fine but he may not have acted in accordance with the law as you have not mentioned that there was a speed trap. I suggest you write to the chief constable and request a satisfactory explanation of what happened or your money back.

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