Can a policeman in uniform

  WhiteTruckMan 22:41 17 May 2007

direct you to (apparently) break the law? (This is another of those 'came up in conversation' thingys).

Here's the deal: about six months ago I was out and about in my artic when I came across a road closed and a policeman (not a traffic guy) directing traffic along another road as a diversion. I initially refused to take it as it was signed as a 7.5 tonne weight limit (I was grossing about 35 tonnes at the time). It wasnt even an 'except for access' road. As no other vehicles could get past me I was told that I would be charged with obstruction if I didnt. I asked the policeman for his name and collar number, then went down the road indicated. But if there was some bright young eager beaver policeman at the other end of the road who wanted to make an issue of it, just how deep in the smelly stuff would I have been?


  Forum Editor 22:47 17 May 2007

You were following instructions given to you by a police officer in the execution of his duty, and in fact you may have been in more trouble had you failed to comply.

Had you attempted to cross a weight-limited bridge the outcome might have been interesting, but then you wouldn't have done that, I'm sure. That said, it sounds as though you couldn't have turned on the road in question, whatever had happened.

  hkvic 23:43 17 May 2007

Road Traffic Act 1988

Sec 35.—(1) Where a constable is for the time being engaged in the regulation of traffic in a road, a person driving or propelling a vehicle who neglects or refuses—

(a) to stop the vehicle, or

(b) to make it proceed in, or keep to, a particular line of traffic,

when directed to do so by the constable in the execution of his duty is guilty of an offence.

  WhiteTruckMan 00:02 18 May 2007

but one thing is sure. Had I taken the decision to go down that road myself (in the absense of a policeman) I would have been guilty of an offence. I'm still not sure that I was in the clear just because I was told to do so. I know the police have the authority to ignore many laws in the coure of their duties. I just dont know if this particular instruction was a legal one, is all.


  Forum Editor 00:21 18 May 2007

have the authority to "ignore many laws" in the execution of their duty, but they do have the power to waive the necessity for motorists to observe certain laws - and this was an instance of it.

Police vehicles may exceed the speed limit and ignore traffic signals when answering an emergency call for instance, but only if they can do so safely. Police officers aren't given immunity from the law, just the power to ignore it under certain sets of strictly defined circumstances.

  WhiteTruckMan 01:12 18 May 2007

-admitedly a poor choice of word on my part-but definitely some. And it was in terms of vehicle usage I was thinking. Things like reversing up motorway hard shoulders and slip roads, parking in places you or I would get moved on from, driving on the wrong side of the road, wrong way down one way streets etc.


  Cymro. 11:20 18 May 2007

If you had ended up in some sort of trouble because you did what the policeman told you, I bet he would have denied he ever told you to go down that road.

  hkvic 12:28 18 May 2007

Police drivers are not exempt from the road traffic laws per se. In extreme circumstances where conditions dictate, police drivers may transgress a particular law but only after due consideration and making sure that no danger is caused.

So for instance, during an emergency call, the driver may go a through a red traffic light but MUST treat it as a give way and not just go blasting through. Once the emergency has ceased, the driver must return to normal driving.

If an accident happens due to a police officer's driving, then he/she will be investigated and can expect to face court action the same as anyone else. They can also be subject of internal discipline hearings. If convicted, any points issued will go on the officers licence and must be declared for their own private insurance.

All drivers are taught "No call is so urgent as to justify an accident". and "Always better to arrive late than not at all".

  recap 13:47 18 May 2007

Some years ago when I was driving buses, I was instructed to take a diversion from a police officer. I got stuck and could not reverse or do any type of three point turn. I radioed in to the depot and was informed that an officer would be along to help me. After around an half hour of trying to turn me around the officer gave up, got on his motor bike and rode off. I did eventually get turned around, but took quite a lot of shunting.

When I returned to the depot I was informed that I had take the right course of action as it was a direction from an officer of the law. My passengers were not too pleased.

  Ho-Lin-Sok 14:12 18 May 2007

As we all know the Police are never wrong, when they are they cover it up, unfortunately for them they don't do that very well either.

  dukeboxhero 14:14 18 May 2007

i wonder how your insurance would have reacted if an accident had happend on the road with 7.5 tonne limit on it? would they see it as you shouldnt have been there?

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