QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand London WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE UNDERHILL
|LISA ELLEN HUMBER||Appellant|
|DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS||Respondent|
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Mr Richard Thatcher (instructed by DPP) appeared on behalf of the Respondent
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"It shall not be lawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle on a restricted road at a speed exceeding 30 miles per hour."
We are not concerned with sub-section (2), which gives power to ministers to vary the speed limit provided for by sub-section (1).
"(1) Subject to the provisions of this section and of section 84(3) of this Act, a road is a restricted road for the purposes of section 81 of this Act if—
(a) in England and Wales, there is provided on it a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart;(b) in Scotland, ... "
"(1) A person who drives a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding a limit imposed by or under any enactment to which this section applies shall be guilty of an offence."
The enactments to which this section applies include the 1984 Act itself.
"In the case of any other road, it is the duty of the local traffic authority—
(a)to erect and maintain ... traffic signs in such positions as may be requisite in order to give effect to general or other directions given by the Secretary of State for the purpose mentioned in subsection (1) above ..."
The Secretary of State has indeed given directions to local traffic authorities as regards the practice and principles to be followed in erecting speed limit signs.
"A failure by the traffic authority to comply with section 85(2) of the 1984 Act does not, in my judgment, absolve a defendant from criminal liability for an offence contrary to section 81(1). Therefore, the absence of signs, or even the presence of misleading signs, would be relevant only to sentence."
"Where no such system of street or carriageway lighting as is mentioned in section 82(1) is provided on a road, but a limit of speed is to be observed on the road, a person shall not be convicted of driving a motor vehicle on the road at a speed exceeding the limit unless the limit is indicated by means of such traffic signs as are mentioned in subsection (1) or subsection (2) above."
The opening words of that provision clearly and necessarily imply that the rule which applies otherwise than on restricted roads, namely that the criminal liability of persons exceeding the speed limit is dependent on the existence of proper signage, does not apply where the system of street lighting referred to in section 82(1) is in place. With respect to Miss Hodson, the contrary seems to me to be unarguable.
"In order to prove that a defendant is guilty of an offence of exceeding a speed limit, contrary to section 81(1) of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, on a road that is a restricted road by virtue of the provision on it of a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more than 200 yards apart, is it necessary for the prosecution to prove that the relevant traffic authority had fully complied with its duty under section 85(2) of the said Act in respect of the provision of signs for the purpose of securing that adequate guidance was given to drivers of motor vehicles as to whether any, and if so what, limit of speed was to be observed on the road in question?"
The answer to that question is, in my opinion, "no", and this appeal must be dismissed.