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Likelihood of a ban for inadvertently making a U Turn on dual carriageway ?


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Can anyone give me an idea of the likelihood of getting a driving ban due to inadvertently making a U Turn and driving down the wrong side of a dual carriageway?

It happened at 1am in the morning, the Police stopped me and told me I was driving in the wrong direction, gave me a caution and told me I would be prosecuted for not driving with due care and attention/(careless) driving, saying it would involve a magistrates court case. 

I was somewhat geographically lost at the time as I was trying to avoid a very confusing situation with the A3s temporarily closed and blocked off junction with the M25.

My vehicles GPS was repeatedly telling me  to make a U Turn on an unfamiliar road and there was a thick line of trees completely obscuring any view of the other carriageway, there was nothing visually to tell me it even was a dual carriageway. No car headlights were showing through the central reservation and any view of the other sides oncoming lanes were completely blocked off by this line of trees. Both sides of the road looked much the same as each other,  the right hand side visually resembled the left side and nothing like a central reservation.

When driving back down the same road a few days later in daylight, I could see that this central reservation was also extra wide in comparison to most dual carriageways. So wide in fact, that the two sides looked like two separate roads. Which I believe is how the GPS must have interpreted the situation.

 While I don't believe in just following Sat Navs blindly, nevertheless one expects them to turn people round on dual carriageways and motorways only by instructing them to take the next exit and then go around the (usually overhead) roundabouts and then final exit back onto the other side, (because in the vast majority of cases this is exactly what  they do do),  - I had no reason to expect it to be wrong in this instance, -  therefore I don't think following it's instruction was literally an act of carelessness or recklessness on my part. Though obviously I acknowledged the gravity of the situation to the police.

Roadside tests for drink and drugs came out negative and I have a currently clean license with no points on it.

 Does anybody have any idea if I'm likely to receive a ban for this? 

Also if anybody's got any idea of whether my observations about the sat navs inconsistent behaviour regarding turning people round on dual carriageways  ( ie using roundabouts on most of them but not this specific one), would be accepted as extenuating circumstances, - any opinions or comments from people, would be much appreciated.

Thanks.

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when did this happen?

a GPS is not the law, don't go there!

you are not being charged with making an illegal u-turn, but with driving in the wrong direction. your U turn is nothing to do with it forget it.

 

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FYI: unless you were doing it for miles and miles....

99% of dual carriageway wrong way driving offences are 3 penalty points and a fine. you don't get banned.

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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Thanks for replying.
 
It happened on 6th of January in the early hours of the morning. it was very recent.

 Yes I realise GPS systems don't quote the law, that's why I said "While I don't believe in just following Sat Navs blindly"...   

I was just describing the set of circumstances which led to how I came to be driving the wrong way on the dual carriageway.   I mentioned it more as possible (slightly) extenuating circumstances than meaning it as a legal defence.   

are you saying I shouldn't even mention it all? That I should just plead guilty and say yes I was driving the wrong way by mistake.  Ie, I should keep everything simple, just admit I was in the wrong, and leave it at that?

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"FYI: unless you were doing it for miles and miles....
99% of dual carriageway wrong way driving offences are 3 penalty points and a fine you don't get banned."

Might have been about a mile I guess (hard to tell), though the policeman said it would have been a dangerous driving charge rather than careless driving had I come all the way along the road rather than from the (nearer) entrance I'd actually  joined  at, i guess that means he didn't think I'd come from that far along it really.

maybe that sounds encouraging then if you say for moderate distances 99% don't get a ban.  -   Thanks.

honeybee13

Yes it would be good to get his input, thanks for that.

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1 hour ago, Nick Chi said:

are you saying I shouldn't even mention it all? That I should just plead guilty and say yes I was driving the wrong way by mistake.  Ie, I should keep everything simple, just admit I was in the wrong, and leave it at that?

:rockon: keep your mouth shut. IMHO.

1 hour ago, Nick Chi said:

the policeman said it would have been a dangerous driving charge rather than careless driving

this is good news for you.

await to see if you get anything then.

i suspect it will simply be 3 points and a small fine.

i cant find anything that suggests otherwise.

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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Careless Driving is a very “subjective” offence, but the legislation says simply that if your driving falls “below that expected of a competent and careful driver” then you are guilty. Of course competent and careful drivers do not drive the wrong way on a dual carriageway.

The first judgement will come from the police. They have the option of offering you a course or fixed penalty (£100 and three points). Unlike speeding (where the offer of an out-of-court disposal (OOCD) is quite prescriptive based on the limit and excess speed) careless driving is not so clear cut and is very much judged on a case-by-case basis. However, the police use some general guidance and I I believe their current rule is that to qualify for an OOCD the incident there must be:

  • no victims
  • no collisions
  • no public complaint about the driving.
  • the incident must be observed by officers (rather than only the public)

In that respect it seems your incident may qualify. However, driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway is bordering on dangerous driving, as intimated by the officer.  Although there were no victims and no collisions this was more luck than judgement and probably more down to the good fortune that the police intercepted you before any harm was done. If there had been any other vehicles on your carriageway there would almost certainly have been a collision and the consequences of what would have been a head-on smash could have been catastrophic.

Your explanation of the event does little to mitigate the offence. I know you are not blaming the satnav instructions as such but you are giving them quite a bit of weight:

“…therefore I don't think following it's instruction was literally an act of carelessness or recklessness on my part.”

I would disagree. Following its instructions unquestionably is careless. This is especially so in the circumstances you describe. I know Junction 10 on the M25 very well. There have been major works in progress for some months and they are not due for completion until summer 2025. The junction is being completely remodelled and the new layout will cover a much larger area than the current arrangements. Different sections are often closed at night with diversions such as you encountered and it is impossible for satnav systems to be updated with the constantly changing relevant information. More than that, there is adequate signage from each of the four directions approaching the junction; there are narrow lanes and a restricted speed limit throughout. It is an extensive site involving major work. Quite simply, that vicinity – especially if you are re-routed because of road closures - it is not a place to depend on a satnav. You have to look out of the window. In my view, what you are saying actually aggravates the offence. Despite the obvious and apparent hazards, you still expected the satnav to see you safely through this major junction, even when it provided an instruction that was clearly inappropriate.

For all these reasons I would be surprised if the police offered you an OOCD. If they don’t, you will be prosecuted in court and here are the Magistrates’ Sentencing Guidelines for the offence:

https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/magistrates-court/item/careless-driving-drive-without-due-care-and-attention-revised-2017/

You will see from that guidance that your offence does not seem to exhibit either “Higher Culpability “ or “Greater Harm” and so should be placed in the lowest category of seriousness. However, you should also note this:

“Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.”

You might argue that your offence falls squarely into Category 3. However, the guidance is exactly that and I have little doubt that if Magistrates hear that you ended up driving the wrong way down a dual carriageway at 1am and only stopped when intercepted by the police, they will almost certainly add their own “weighting” to the offence and will probably place it in Category 2. This will see five or six points and a fine of one week’s income (reduced by a third if you plead guilty).

"Also if anybody's got any idea of whether my observations about the sat navs inconsistent behaviour regarding turning people round on dual carriageways  ( ie using roundabouts on most of them but not this specific one), would be accepted as extenuating circumstances, - any opinions or comments from people, would be much appreciated."

The ideas I have are quite straightforward – they are not to be relied upon. The ultimate responsibility for his driving standards and any outcome resulting from them rests solely with the driver. This is especially so in the circumstances you describe, where it is clear (or at least should be clear to a competent and careful driver) that a satnav may not have all the most up to date information required. Any attempt to use the satnav’s instructions as mitigation will simply demonstrate to a court that the driver was not paying sufficient attention to his surroundings.

Of course all this is only my view, based on the brief description you provided. It would be helpful if you informed us of the outcome, to add to the forums knowledge base.

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Man In The Middle.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer this in so much detail. It's very helpful to get your perspective on it. 

Perhaps it didn't come over clearly enough from what I said, but it wasn't all about just following the GPS  and I wasn't relying on it to get me through the roadworks. I'd turned off the A3 well south of  the roadworks to try to cut across sideways with a plan to eventually intersect with the M3 and then join the M25 that way. 

It was there a little way north of the Hindhead tunnel that I turned off the A3 and via a small connecting B road  (B30001) on to the A31 Farnham bypass, which is where the incident occurred. I was definitely looking around at all times and was fully aware of my surroundings.

As I said, there was a thick line of trees obscuring any sight of the other side of the dual carriageway, no car headlights coming the other way poking through, nothing visually at all to indicate this was anything other than an ordinary road.

I was driving southbound and the north side was completely 100 percent blocked out of view all the way along the section in question. Literally no sight of their being another side to the carriageway whatsoever.   

After I'd turned round and then headed north,  -   the spot where I actually got stopped by the police was the Hogs Back, Tongham area of the A31.
 
 I've been thinking of driving back along the same stretch of road in daylight, with a passenger videoing the stretch of road, to prove how completely obscured the other side was visually by the trees on the central reservation, with a view to maybe having this shown as evidence of extenuating circumstances when the time comes.  

  Do you think that might be an idea worth trying?


Thank you, if you have time to answer.

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Sorry, I didn’t quite get a handle on where this happened earlier.

I know the A31 quite well too but I can’t quite gather the details of your route. The B3001 meets the A31 south of the Hogs Back (at Farnham, in fact) and you would have to drive north (back towards the A3) to get to the Hogs Back, but you said you were driving southbound before you turned round. Ironically, if you were travelling southbound there and the satnav told you to turn round, you were being directed back to the A3 and precisely the area you were trying to avoid. Which is another indication of the perils of relying on satnavs. But it doesn’t really matter as far as your problem goes.

There is certainly one stretch of the A31 across the Hogs Back (in the vicinity of the Hogs Back Hotel) where the two carriageways are separated as you describe. I don’t know how you came to be on the southbound carriageway at that stretch – it makes no sense to me at all. But if that’s where you were, I agree that parts of the road there may, taken in isolation, give the impression of being  single carriageway. I imagine you were somewhere around here:

https://www.instantstreetview.com/@51.226533,-0.714861,287.57h,-5.42p,0z,I0xw6LgdEVIp9yCUkj_yKQ

As I said, I don’t know where exactly you might have joined the A31 southbound to approach the Hogs Back (the A31 begins a few miles further north, where it splits from the A3). But certainly at this point (north of the Hogs Back) it is clearly a dual carriageway:

https://www.instantstreetview.com/@51.226745,-0.695772,287.57h,-5.42p,0.42z,05spBYvtERib55HdiW5Pag

If you follow the GSV from there you will come to the stretch where I believe you turned round. But there is no indication, between those two points, that the road has become a two way single  carriageway. A little further on there is a junction with the road to Ash Green and it is clear at that point that the road is two lanes in the same direction (by virtue of the arrows in the road):

https://www.instantstreetview.com/@51.226733,-0.709591,287.57h,-5.42p,0z,cJ0qtfiZgThCa_GzPScb9A

A little further still (just after the “Hotel” signpost on the left) the road opens out again and the opposite carriageway becomes clearly visible. 

I drive that stretch quite often and have done so both during the day and at night and from my perspective there is absolutely no reason to believe the carriageway has reverted to both way running. As well as that, as you can see from the GSV shots, the road is quite narrow there and I was astonished to learn that you performed a U-turn in the dark on that stretch. 

If you do return to the scene, see if you can find any indication as you travel southbound that the road becomes a single carriageway. I’m sure you won’t. If you take this matter to court it will be tried in a Magistrates’ Court local to that area and the Magistrates will very likely to be aware of the road’s layout.

My view remains the same. You should not have performed a U-turn at that location and if the area was unfamiliar, you should have waited until a more suitable location to turn round was available. If you are offered a fixed penalty I should grab it with both hands as it is the best offer you will get. If it goes to court, I would recommend a guilty plea with as little said about why and where you turned round as possible.

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Hi  Thanks again.

   That first picture is exactly how I remember it looking and I don't recall seeing anything at all that differs from how impenetrable those trees look visually.                                                                                                                        Most certainly I don't remember anything at all like the scenario in the third picture!    As for the second picture with the arrows, - if I drove  past them then yes I admit I must have failed to notice them, so as that qualifies as carelessness then so be it, I would acknowledge that.   -  I was not planning to contest the charge of guilty anyway,  just to plead mitigating circumstances because of the masking effect of how the side of the road looked visually.
 

On 17/01/2024 at 14:54, Man in the middle said:

I know the A31 quite well too but I can’t quite gather the details of your route.

 As to how I came to be heading north after turning round  (and more about exactly where I'd joined the A31)...       I'd originally intersected with the A31 via the B3001 at  (I think)  Farnham,  (looking at a map the B3OO1 seems to be called Station Hill at that point) I then headed a short way south, made the mistaken U turn, then drove north, passing the spot where I'd initially joined the road and going a bit further up northwards  till I reached the Hogs Back area (of the A31).    -    I'd previously set  the GPS to get me to the M3 so I was assuming there would be  another turning off the A31 westwards or north westwards to lead over to a point where  I could join it (the M3). However I didn't get that far of course, because of  the Police stopping me at The Hogs Back area (of the A31).

     Do you think a case like this, is  serious enough to warrant engaging a solicitor for or should I just explain it myself, mentioning the trees just in passing?

     Thanks again for your time.
 

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