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Refused to Sign Roadside FPN from a Police Officer


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Hi guys, so i will start from the top, i was pulled over last night by 2 Police officers pretending to serve in the public interest. They said they had stopped me for having an 'undersized' front number plate. Now, i do not dispute the fact my front plate is not regulation size (it is 3/4 size). I did not deny the offence at the time and admited that it was too small. Here is where the fun begins...

 

The officer who seemed to be taking charge then came and nealt down by the open passenger side door and said "i have pulled you over and warned you about this before haven't i" I said "No you haven't, you must be mistaken". He looked confused and afew minutes later after talking to his colleague, he came back and said that it must have been someone else they were thinking of. I got no aplogy.

 

Now, i know of alot of people locally who have had issues with the Police regarding registration plate conformation. These have always resulted in the VDRS (Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme) being followed, as per section 4.1.3 of the publication. This is a procedure used for minor motoring offences, for both parties to resolve the issue as quickly as possible whilst maintaining confidence in the Police Force. Details if this publication can be found on the Dorset Police website.

 

Now, this particular officer was clearly taking a disliking to me from the moment he pulled me over, stating that i am abit young to be driving a car like this (2003 BMW ClubSport). His tone of voice and attitude were not that of how a Police Officer should act. I was very polite at this point and offered to change the registration plate there and then on the road side, due to the fact not only a week ago the car went through it's MoT, so the original plate was still in the boot of my car. The officer refused to let me change the plate saying i clearly did not care about 'flauting' the law. I then said okay, so your going to give me a VDRS notice then? (This requires you to produce proof of fixing the defect via an MoT station in 14 days). He replied "No, i don't want to, i'm going to give you a £60 FPN and thats it". I know as a matter of due course that the VDRS is always offered first (especially considering this was a first time offence), so an FPN was clearly not the right avenue to take, and it was very apparent that the only thing this officer was interested in was extorting £60 from my person. It appears it is one rule for some and one rule for others. Where is the judicial law in that?

 

At that point i said well if thats the way your going to act, then i will not be signing anything or entering any sort of contract which says i have to give you £60. He looked at me, closed his little book, and said "okay, your going to court then". His colleague then went around the front of my car and took a photo of my undersized registration plate.

 

Now, as far as i understand, even if i decided not to sign the offer of an FPN, he is still supposed to give me the ticket which says i opted to go to court, there is a box on the FPN to which i am supposed to tick to say i am taking this option. Instead, i received nothing. I did not confirm my name, address, or date of birth to anybody nor was i asked to do. The officer closed the car door and walked off. I then drove away with absolutely no proof to say i had even been pulled over or am being charged with an offence leading to court. The only thing i did was produce my driving licence at the start of the incident, which he gave back to me without asking me to confirm who i am etc. I could have been anybody claiming to own this car.

 

I am so disgusted with the officer's attitude and lack of following protocol, that i have written a detailed formal complaint to the Chief Constable of the local constabulary. I have not yet submitted this complaint, but i wanted to get it in writing while it was fresh in my mind. Do you think i should submit a complaint, or just wait to see what happens?

 

Should i have received a ticket to say i opted to go to court?

 

Thank you in advance.

Edited by Steve_E
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Wait and see.

 

My impression of your thread:

 

You know you had an illegal plate and that you are liable for an FPN. I don't know why you are investing so much time and effort trying to wriggle out of it. Now you're going to take up court time as well as more police time, not to mention more of your own time. Really, why bother making an issue of it?

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just out of interest. did the officer "caution" you.

small plates are illegal and they can fpn you but as the op states the usual tactic is to issue the defect notice and only fpn if the driver is a repeat offender.

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No i was not cautioned. Update is that i have just got off the phone to the area Inspector on duty at the moment, he aplogised for any rude behaviour on the officers behalf, but that any summons will still stand. He has spoken with the officer involved and as it stands he was entitled to give me the FPN and not the optional VDRS. It was down to the officers discretion at the time. He also got the impression i was telling the officer how to do his job, which i was not, i was merely asking why he was not using the VDRS. The inspector said he will have a chat with the officer again and see if he is willing to offer me another FPN, to which i can accept and pay £60. If he does then i might accept it, but he also said that if the CPS do decide they want to prosecute me, he said it doesnt usually involve a higher fine, just the court costs from bringing the case forward. He said it's a 50/50 wether they will prosecute me or not, apparently alot of these dont end up going through anyway, it depends how small they actually class the plate to be.

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No caution necessary.

 

As the Inspector said, unless the officer issues a FPN, the OP may receive a summons for the offence - which would ultimately cost the OP more even if the fine is not increased.

Warning: Freemen of the Land Operate here. Think twice before accepting 'legal advice'.

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I received a police letter re: number plate spacing last year (after having the same plate of various cars for 10 years!) which simply was a warnning letter to correct it, ot if seen again will lead to a fine. It seems way over the top to issue an FPN for something like this with no evidence that it has previously been advised against. However, as we know, the police are a law to themselves over what they procecute and waht they warn for.

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The officer in question has just been round like the Inspector asked him to. When he arrived he asked me how i felt about last night and i said i felt slightly aggreived at the situation. He stated he was just trying to do his job. He then offered me another FPN for £60 like the Inspector said he would. I've bit my tongue and accepted the new FPN. To me this just says that it would never have gone to court anyway, but it's a risk i've decided i cant be bothered to take. I'll pay it within 28 days...

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It seems way over the top to issue an FPN for something like this with no evidence that it has previously been advised against.

 

Why should there be need to advise against it? The OP was aware that the plate was illegal and the officer was correct when he said that the OP "did not care about 'flauting' the law."

 

If one decides to deliberately alter their numberplate so that it does not meet regulations, they do so at their own risk and should only blame themselves if they get caught.

Warning: Freemen of the Land Operate here. Think twice before accepting 'legal advice'.

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There are 1000s and 1000s of such plates out there, the vast majority perfectly readable (by humans), that are simply "tweaked" to a very small degree to imply a name or some such using regulation lettering. eg R19 SBY might of been bought by John Rigsby and he wanted to display it as R19SBY. This has gone on for many years, and some may say is actually fuelled by the DVLAs willingness to sell private plates that quite clearly have such desireableness linked to the number, and generate many megabucks for the DVLA.

 

I don't think the police ever took much interest in this "offence" until the advent of ANPR where, apparently, the machines struggled with reading them. Although I also have my doubts about this as well though, because even with fully legal plates, there are so many possible configurations of the lettering, that I would be astounded that ANPR could read R19 SBY but not R19SBY! R1 BSY is legal as is RGS 6Y and 123 RBY etc etc.

 

ANPR has to be able to read many formats and if it can't, then I would love to know which ones screw it up and I bet the real criminals already know! That only leaves the soft targets as ever of the generally law abiding citizens that are only trying to add a small element of personalisation to their car with no intent to deceive or disfigure.

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I'm with MM on this. Obviously if the OP needs to have a 'spare' legal plate to put on so the car passes an MOT, then clearly he is well aware that the plate is illegal. I see many of these 'personalized' plates on a daily basis and providing the size, font and spacing is correct then I see no problem with them. Some though deliberately alter numbers into letters and vice-versa to make names ect. They even use black screw caps to do so. That practice is a no no as far as i am concerned. IMHO ANPR is a wondeful peice of technology as it is slowly but surely weeding out the 1000's of illegal drivers which are on the roads when they have no right to be. The system can only work by having correctly formatted plates and any law-abiding driver should not have a problem with that.

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BMW driver - nuff said :car:

Frederickson - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - Lost - Claiming back from post office

Connaught Collections - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - No Agreement - returned to client

Lowell - CCA sent 11/4/07 - No agreement - returned to client

Moorcroft - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - No Agreement - returned to client

Red Castle - CCA Sent 11/4/07 - Copy returned but no T&C's

Robinson Way - CCA Sent 16/5/07

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There are 1000s and 1000s of such plates out there, the vast majority perfectly readable (by humans), that are simply "tweaked" to a very small degree to imply a name or some such using regulation lettering. eg R19 SBY might of been bought by John Rigsby and he wanted to display it as R19SBY. This has gone on for many years, and some may say is actually fuelled by the DVLAs willingness to sell private plates that quite clearly have such desireableness linked to the number, and generate many megabucks for the DVLA.

 

I don't think the police ever took much interest in this "offence" until the advent of ANPR where, apparently, the machines struggled with reading them. Although I also have my doubts about this as well though, because even with fully legal plates, there are so many possible configurations of the lettering, that I would be astounded that ANPR could read R19 SBY but not R19SBY! R1 BSY is legal as is RGS 6Y and 123 RBY etc etc.

 

ANPR has to be able to read many formats and if it can't, then I would love to know which ones screw it up and I bet the real criminals already know! That only leaves the soft targets as ever of the generally law abiding citizens that are only trying to add a small element of personalisation to their car with no intent to deceive or disfigure.

 

They probably fall into 3 catagories:

 

• spacing alterations to make a new word

• additional screws to alter a letter

• different fonts

 

Number 1 is probably understandable if you've bought a specific plate. Number 2 is a big no-no and number 3 is one for the style police I think (why you'd want a comedy font on your car is a mystery to me!)

 

Either way, personally I don't understand why you'd want to drive about in a car that could get you pulled over at any time. You might as well write "I have an illegal numberplate" on the back window since it's sooo obvious.

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If you can afford a proper personalised plate then its your money so buy one if you have nothing better to do, but if you can't then you deserve to get nicked its impossible to accidently have dodgy plates anyone that sells them clearly state they are not legal for road use. I think the fine should bemuch higher in the region of £500 its a joke you can get plates made to avoid fines and congestion charging etc and only get a £60 fine.

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as long as you dont contest the fpn it should only be £60 fine, but dont forget the 3 points aswell. and it shouldnt need to go to court

 

VRM defect is non-endorsable, so no points. Just the fine.

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ANPR has to be able to read many formats and if it can't, then I would love to know which ones screw it up and I bet the real criminals already know! That only leaves the soft targets as ever of the generally law abiding citizens that are only trying to add a small element of personalisation to their car with no intent to deceive or disfigure.

 

ANPR as used by the Police is capable of reading any Schengen area plus UK and Eire VRM

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I think the OP has handled him/herself well and argued a point with what sounds like a typically arrogant young plod.

 

The points made about him being a BMW driver are irrellevant and I usually expect better from this site.

 

I don't agree with the offence however, it is clearly an offence to have altered one's numberplate from the standard so the OP should have accepted the roadside FPN and possibly considered the 'be quiet and humble' approach even when talking to a know it all officer.

 

I once had a youngish copper pull me out from a line of traffic (I was on a motorcycle) and try the old 'I know your face don't I' line, to which I replied 'You may well do as I have just left an all day meeting with Chief Constable XXX at Scotland Yard, it's possible you saw us in the canteen whilst we were having lunch' - all true, I had been there on a exercise from the Ambulance Service to discuss tactics and options for a London event.

 

His face was a picture and his mate even laughed at him and took the pee, saying 'You won't try that one again will you'

 

I just got back on my bike and ignored anything else he said, nodded to the older copper and rode away.

 

They are people just like us and make mistakes and have good and bad moods like us, I think the OP did well not to let the uniform intimidate but could have managed it better by judging the character he/she was dealing with before taking the direction he/she did.

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I don't think it is fair to suggest that the officer was arrogant or a "know it all" when essentially, the police officer was correct.

 

The offence is there for a good reason - there has to be some sort of standard that registration plates have to meet.

Warning: Freemen of the Land Operate here. Think twice before accepting 'legal advice'.

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