It has been reported that a motorist in Norwich was stopped this week whilst travelling with their four year old daughter because of the condition of his/ her vehicle. In particular, one tyre’s tread was identified as being below the required legal limit (i.e. for cars, light vans and light trailers, at least 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the breadth of the tread and around the entire circumference). A further tyre was worn so badly that metal cords from the tyre structure were exposed. In addition, one of the wheels had only three of its five wheel fixings present.
The applicable rules regarding the condition and maintenance of the tyres of motor vehicles are conferred within Regulation 27 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 as amended. The Regulations stipulate that a vehicle shall not be used on a road: if the tyre is unsuitable, having regard to the vehicle’s use or to its other tyres; the tyre has any of the ply or cord exposed; and/ or the tyre tread is not at the legal depth is below the prescribed legal limit.
It is an offence under Section 40A of the Road Traffic Act 1988, as amended, to use a vehicle when it is in a dangerous condition. In this context, the “the condition of the motor vehicle… is such that the use of the motor vehicle… involves a danger of injury to any person.”
For this particular offence, the maximum sentence upon conviction in the Magistrates Court, is a Level 4 fine – £2,500. On conviction, the Court is also obliged to endorse an offender’s driving licence with three points, and can elect to impose a period of a discretionary driving disqualification.
In the present case, the vehicle was issued with an immediate prohibition notice and the motorist concerned was proffered an out of court disposal, which he/ she accepted. It should be observed that any offer of an out of court disposal is to the discretion of the relevant authority, taking into consideration a number of factors. However, even where such disposals are proposed, if a motorist disputes the allegation, they can elect for a hearing before a Magistrates Court to determine the matter.