The law in relation to vehicle condition offences is set out in the Construction and Use Regulations made under the Road Traffic Act 1988
There are four common offences with which a driver may be charged in relation to the condition of their vehicle:
(1) Using a vehicle which is in a dangerous condition
(2) Using a vehicle which has defective tyres
(3) Using a vehicle which has faulty brakes
(4) Using a vehicle which has faulty lights
It is important to note that ignorance is no defence to charges of this nature. Quite simply, it is a drivers’ responsibility to ensure that his/her vehicle is free from defects before commencing their journey
If a defect is minor then you may be given the opportunity by the police to participate in a vehicle rectification scheme by the police as an alternative to prosecution.
Under this voluntary scheme you will be given a form setting out the defects in your motor vehicle and requiring you to put those defects right, have the vehicle inspected by an approved garage and to return to the police within fourteen days of the offence the defect form stamped by the garage.
However, if a defect is more serious a driver may face a charge of using a vehicle which poses a danger of injury to other road users under section 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1988. Such charges carry with them fines of up to £2500 for holders of ordinary licenses and even higher potential financial penalties for drivers of large goods vehicles or passenger carrying vehicles. Three penalty points will also be imposed and the court has the power, on a discretionary basis, to disqualify. Indeed, if a driver has been convicted of a similar offence in the three years prior to the commission of the offence they have been prosecuted for then the court is obliged to disqualify for a period of at least six months.
Vehicle defects, if they are sufficiently serious, can also result in a charge of dangerous driving, "if it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving the vehicle in its current state would be dangerous".
Regulation 27 of the Construction and Use Regulations deals with illegal tyres and sets out a multiplicity of rules covering everything from tyre pressure to tread depth. It is important to note that the penalties for having illegal tyres are a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty point per tyre. A driver with four illegal tyres could therefore, in theory, be disqualified under the ‘totting up’ regulations. (See separate subject heading).
It should be borne in mind that the imposition of penalty points or disqualification could be avoided by resorting to a contention that ‘special reasons’ exist for not imposing the usual penalties for such an offence (see separate subject heading) or in the case of ‘totting up’ disqualification, that ‘exceptional hardship’ would follow in the event of disqualification (again see separate subject heading)
The Construction and Use Regulations are gradually being replaced by regulations based on type approval. Which regulations apply in each individual case depends on when an item was manufactured and also when it was first used. The interaction between and application of the various construction, use, type approval and European Community Directives is complex and an incorrectly drafted offence can be challenged by the defence. If you have are being Prosecuted, or believe that you are in danger of being prosecuted for a vehicle defect then contact us immediately
All of Scotland Covered:
Including: Glasgow Edinburgh Aberdeen Dundee Paisley Renfrewshire East Kilbride Perth Livingston Cumbernauld Hamilton Kirkcaldy Dunfermline Ayr Kinross Kilmarnock Inverness Greenock Inverclyde Port Glasgow Coatbridge North Lanarkshire Glenrothes fife Airdrie Falkirk Stirling Rutherglen Dumfries Galloway Motherwell Wishaw Clydebank West Dunbartonshire Bearsden East Dunbartonshire Cambuslang Newton Mearns East Renfrewshire Bishopbriggs Musselburgh East Lothian Arbroath Angus Polmont Elgin Renfrew Renfrewshire Alloa Bellshill Clackmannanshire Blantyre Dumbarton West Dunbartonshire Kirkintilloch Clarkston East Renfrewshire Bathgate West Lothian Stenhousemuir Falkirk Peterhead Aberdeenshire Barrhead Grangemouth Falkirk St Andrews Fife Kilwinning Ayrshire Giffnock viewpark Buckhaven Penicuik Midlothian Stranraer Johnstone Erskine Larkhall Moray