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Idling car & driving without licence on private property not allowed?


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Asking for a friend - no, really.

 

Quick background: my elderly neighbour lost his driving licence a few weeks ago and since then I've been driving him to the shop every now and then. This is usually a week or two apart, so he sometimes starts the engine and idles it for a few minutes to charge the battery. He might have driven it around the parking area a bit but he doesn't even do that these days. Apart from when I drive him, the car is always parked inside the private parking area for the building.

 

A few weeks ago he had a visit from the police. Seems someone reported him driving! I assume one of the neighbours saw me driving him off and didn't bother to look how many people were in the car, but I digress. He told them he isn't driving on public roads, mentions me driving him around, and that he only charges the battery up every now and again. The police are satisfied and leave.

 

Fast forward to today. Once again, police are knocking on his door, only this time they're telling him he can't even sit in his car with his keys in the ignition, let alone the engine being on, as that would fall under "operating a vehicle without a licence". They threaten to take his keys away before he promises to not do it, and they leave.

 

Is this correct? Can he not even idle the car or drive it around a private residential parking lot, one with a sign warning "residents only", or would the fact that there is no gate or barrier to stop cars coming in deem it a public road?

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Sounds incredibly petty I know, but here is a bit of the RTA I found....

Quote

The offence is under Section 143 of the Road Traffic Act, which states:

"Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act— (a) a person must not use a motor vehicle on a road unless there is in force in relation to the use of the vehicle by that person such a policy of insurance or such a security in respect of third party risks as complies with the requirements of this Part of this Act"

Note that it makes no reference to 'control' of the vehicle, rather use. Nor does a person have to be in possession of the keys, or be driving a vehicle, to be 'using' the vehicle (a vehicle rolling downhill with the engine switched off is being 'used', as in the case of Saycell v Bond; and a vehicle parked and unattended in the road is being 'used' by the owner, as in the case of Andrews v Kershaw).

To be the 'user' of a motor vehicle under the Act requires some element of controlling, managing or operating the vehicle (Brown v Roberts). Certainly if the owner of the vehicle was not in the vicinity of the car, and especially if the person in the driver's seat was in possession of the keys (even if they weren't in the ignition), then a person sitting in the driver's seat could be argued to be 'in control of/managing' and therefore using the vehicle. I don't think there are any relevant cases to clarify that though.

 

If he doesn't have a licence anymore, then IMHO if he even went out to the car to turn it on would seem that he could open himself up to prosecution.

 

What a shame these petty minded neighbours haven't got anything better to do with their sad lives.,

Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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urm..multi residential use but PRIVATE PROPERTY.

is there a valid insurance policy on the car? or you drive it under your policy?

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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The status or ownership of the road (i.e. "private" or "public") is not really a consideration for most of the RTA. Much of it applies to a "road or other public place." In general if the public have unfettered access to an area (that is, anybody could drive into it, even if they were not permitted to do so) then the RTA applies.

 

But, as mentioned above, a far more important thing to check is the insurance cover for the vehicle. Unless a vehicle is declared off-road by way of a SORN (in which case it must be kept off the road) it must have in place an insurance policy which covers it specifically, regardless of whether or not it is driven. If you are driving it on a policy which permits driving other cars not owned by you, you should check whether there is a stipulation that the car must be insured in its own right.

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The vehicle must have at least third party cover on it, nothing to stop owner insuring it with OP as named driver.  That might be best solution.

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17 hours ago, Bazooka Boo said:

What a shame these petty minded neighbours haven't got anything better to do with their sad lives.,

 

Generally, agreed. But could this be their non-confrontational way of objecting to the car regularly running its engine but not moving off,  polluting the air outside their window or home?

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With regards to insurance, the car is fully insured. The neighbour kept it that way precisely so other people could drive him around, specifically his brother once he comes around.

 

As for unfettered access to private property, that's a good question. The access is technically unfettered but this is a private parking area behind the buildings and no-one would have reason to come in unless it was to park.

 

Don't think it's just to stop the car running its engine, as I said in the original post, someone reported him driving it when it was in all likelihood me. Seems to me someone just has a bone to pick with him so they report him for everything.

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23 hours ago, Tony P said:

 

Generally, agreed. But could this be their non-confrontational way of objecting to the car regularly running its engine but not moving off,  polluting the air outside their window or home?

I disagree, it's petty minded people with nothing else to occupy their tiny minds.

Fancy calling the old bill for such a trivial issue, not all vehicles pollute the air, what if this car is a hybrid or electric?

 

Anyhow, it is what it is, officious members of the public and seemingly bored bobbies on the beat?

 

I'd take him out in his car and make it obvious that it is YOU driving it and getting into the drivers seat, in fact I'd drive to the local Police station and ask to speak to an officer regarding the law on exactly what he can or can't do regarding his own vehicle.

 

Would he allow you to keep the keys?

This way then there will be no question as to him driving it.

Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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As above, insurance is required for the use on a 'road or other public place'  - s. 143, Road Traffic Act 1988, but a driver is only required to hold a licence for driving on a 'road' - s.87 of the same act.

 

A car park is not a road - House of Lords: Clark (A.P.) and Others v. Kato, Smith and General Accident Fire & Life Assurance Corporation.

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Update on the situation:

 

Following the run in with the police he has actually gone to the police station himself to question what he was told and was told there is no issue with him idling or moving the car around the car park, so the police officers who told him that were wrong.

 

As a side note, he knows who it is that's reporting him. Seems to be a bit of a feud between them, but the clarification he got from the police should at least stop them coming around every time a report is made.

 

Thank you to everyone who replied to this question!

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On 06/04/2021 at 19:32, dx100uk said:

urm..multi residential use but PRIVATE PROPERTY.

 

18 minutes ago, WelshMotorist said:

there is no issue with him idling or moving the car around the car park, so the police officers who told him that were wrong.

:rockon:

 

seems just like a previously existing and on going feud my neighbour had with another last year after travel lockdown restrictions were implemented...he has never driven nor ever held a driving licence but his wife does. he was keeping the various cars duly maintained and charged by running and driving them around the private car park of the estate, someone objected.

 

It eventually resulted in the local police actually having to write to the other party warning them to stop ringing 101 and advising there was no legal issue with said neighbour driving the cars within the private property even if the property had multiple authorised users.

 

dx

 

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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I get the feeling the same might have to happen here. I don't imagine the other neighbour will willingly stop her complaints against him just like that, not unless she's told to, so I hope they inform her of this.

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On 06/04/2021 at 20:14, Man in the middle said:

The status or ownership of the road (i.e. "private" or "public") is not really a consideration for most of the RTA. Much of it applies to a "road or other public place." In general if the public have unfettered access to an area (that is, anybody could drive into it, even if they were not permitted to do so) then the RTA applies.

I don't think this is quite correct. The key considerations are

 

(1) do members of the public, as opposed to a special class of people (like residents and their guests), actually use the area, and

(2) if so, do they do so in defiance of a prohibition, explicit or implicit?

 

The fact that it's physically possible for the public to access an area doesn't make it a public place. The presence of a physical barrier is good evidence that a place is not public, but the absence of a barrier is not proof that it is public - a "keep out" or "residents only" sign would have the same effect as a barrier. And even the sign isn't necessary if there's an implied prohibition (your front garden is not a public place, even if you don't have a front gate), or if there's no actual use by the public.

 

There's a useful summary of the case law in Hallett v DPP

 

https://www.casemine.com/judgement/uk/5a8ff72460d03e7f57ea8696

 

In that case a person was convicted of drink-driving on an ungated service road which provided access to the back gardens of some 20 houses. The High Court overturned his conviction because there was no evidence to establish that it was actually a public place.

 

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I did say "in general". Each case will turn on its individual merits.

 

However, the ruling you kindly provided does raise an important point - that the burden of proof (whether the place where the driving occurred is subject to the RTA) rests with the prosecution. It is not for the defendant to prove that where he drove was not subject to the law. The prosecution can do this by adducing evidence of use by the general public and that's what they failed to do in the case you cited.

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That case was interesting,  with seeking out exactly what a public place was there is a Private unmade unadopted road in Penrhyn Bay Wales, the mouth of which gives a clear view down a straight bit of 30 mph road.  The police used to park there and use a radar gun from the location, and  apparently warned residents their children must not ride electric kiddie cars on it until residents complained, that the police were not on official business to access a property and were trespassing etc. they don't park there any more.

We could do with some help from you.

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The bailiff: A 12th Century solution re-branded as Enforcement Agents for the 21st Century to seize and sell debtors goods as before Oh so Dickensian!

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