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The ‘Great’ British police . . . maybe too great at times.


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Here’s a tale, going back to 1998 when I lived near Settle in the Yorkshire Dales, about an incident that was both life-threatening and educational; life-threatening because it involved a head-on car crash and educational because I’d enjoyed a few beers beforehand, i.e. I was driving under the influence – DUI as we so often read about in reports of Thailand’s terribly high road accident and death numbers.

One rainy evening, after spending a couple of hours at one of the town’s pubs, watching my daughter performing in a local rock band and chatting and enjoying a beer or three with another proud dad, I was driving back home and entering a sweeping right-hand bend, when another car, completely on my side of the road, gave me a split second in which to try to steer towards the road centre to prevent a head-on impact. I reckon I’d have been doing about 50 mph and, judging from the other car’s frighteningly rapid approach, that it was doing a similar speed. Sadly, though, and not entirely surprisingly, the other driver tried to evade a crash by steering towards the middle, resulting in a head-on, in the middle of the road, at an impact speed of about a 100 mph.

It was an almighty crash, but my airbag kept me in my seat (albeit with a cracked rib!) and I was able to exit my car and to help the other driver out of her car; she was a French woman, holidaying in The Dales. She couldn’t walk unaided but let me help her across the road to where there was a field gate that she could lean against whilst I ran up the road a little way to where there was a youth hostel from where I’d be able to call the emergency services.

Approaching 11 p.m. on a rural road, there was very little traffic needing to be warned about the wreckage and about ten minutes later the local ‘bobby’ arrived. He had a quick word with the hostel warden who was comforting the clearly distressed French woman and, whilst advising me that she’d admitted to being on the wrong side of the road (thinking she was back in France), he smelt the booze on my breath and asked me to take a breath-test. I saw that the test immediately showed amber but, a few awful seconds later, it turned to red and I was told I’d need to take a re-test at the district police station in Skipton, almost twenty miles distant.

The officer was one of Settle’s regulars, who’d helped my wife and me after one of our son’s had damaged a farm wall, having aquaplaned into it on a stormy evening a few weeks earlier. He was happy to chat, especially thanking me for calling the emergency services when, he said, many drink-drivers would have done a runner. I’d had three pints of beer and he told me that, with his test having taken an age to show red, there was every chance the ‘proper’ test would be negative.

The proper test was negative and, although being a minute or two that I will never, ever forget, did give a reading below the illegal, positive level and even the sergeant who’d officiated was pleasantly light-hearted about the warning that he gave me. I was driven back home by the friendly bobby and, in a pretty sorry and guilt-ridden state, apologised to my wife for the unfortunate end to what should have been a happy evening. That was pretty educational, but there was a further lesson still to come.

Next day, whilst preparing a statement of events for my insurance claim, I phoned the local police station, asking for their confirmation that the other driver had admitted full blame, only to be told that, once she’d seen me being ‘carted away’ for another DUI test, she’d changed her tune and simply denied having been driving on the wrong side, saying that it was my fault. It was the same officer speaking and he had to explain that since the French woman had not been cautioned before making her statement – her admission – there was no further action they could take.

Now, that was a lesson and, since that dark and stormy night when I could easily have ended-up dead, I’ve never had more than one beer to drink before driving. I considered that to be an OK response to the lesson.

What do you think?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Lucky boy to have walked away from that one - lesson learned myself when riding a bike (forgot to put out my leg when I stopped at lights - and who was watching - yep).  I also learned that other lesson (people will lie later on) when involved in any incident once a lawyer talks to them. Now I have a voice recording app on my phone all ready to click whenever I am involved in anything with other people that might get legal.  Last time I used it was when a copper pulled me over for being in the right lane, and when I questioned why he was doing that he said he was recording the conversation - I pointed at my phone in the cradle and said I have been doing the same. He backed off and gave me a warning, and I apologised for being in his way. He was in an unmarked car speeding and was sitting on my bumper (but he did not have the lights on - at first).

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New Zealand in the 70's had strict licensing laws which encouraged club owners to flout the law.  Most club staff and bouncers turned a blind eye to people bring their own liquor in hip flasks or otherwise concealed within jacket or ladies hand bag.  Once seated at a table everyone would order soft drinks and surreptitiously add the spirit of choice whilst holding ones glass of soft drink under the table.

Needless to say, as the night wore on, it was easy for spirits to get mixed and inebriation would surely follow.  Long before DUI offences became a Police issue it was common to drive home and I nearly killed myself in the wee hours waking just in time to see a power pole directly ahead,  I missed it,  Stopped, vomited and vowed never to touch spirits again.

I'm 100% a beer and wine only drinker.  Best performance in UK pubs, The Castle, Isleworth, was 8 pints in an evening session,  I walked home of course.  1 imperial pint = 570ml approx.

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I was an L driver back in 2010 at that stage had been driving with plates up for around 2 to 3 years and had not bothered yet to do the driving test. I was out with several friends in the car and ended up behind a very very very slow driver and to impress them and my own ego, I undertook the car in front in the hard shoulder and got ahead of them. What a shock I got as the driver of the car was a police officer in an unmarked car and all i could hear was a siren and see flashing lights. I pulled in a couple of 100 yards down the road and got one hell of a lecture, penalty points and a fine. I was very lucky not to have been taken to court for serious dangerous driving. The whole event was an eye opener for me and changed the way i viewed the road ever since. 

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Hi Tjampman, learned my lesson and now a very cautious driver and have come a full circle and turned into a big critic of driving standards in and around Bangkok.

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Pattaya is appalling for traffic accidents when the tourist season is in full force and the amount of hired cars that have mishaps is absolutely staggering. Very few accidents at the moment due to covid-19 with the lack of tourism.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/5/2021 at 6:21 AM, King Cotton said:

Here’s a tale, going back to 1998 when I lived near Settle in the Yorkshire Dales, about an incident that was both life-threatening and educational; life-threatening because it involved a head-on car crash and educational because I’d enjoyed a few beers beforehand, i.e. I was driving under the influence – DUI as we so often read about in reports of Thailand’s terribly high road accident and death numbers.

One rainy evening, after spending a couple of hours at one of the town’s pubs, watching my daughter performing in a local rock band and chatting and enjoying a beer or three with another proud dad, I was driving back home and entering a sweeping right-hand bend, when another car, completely on my side of the road, gave me a split second in which to try to steer towards the road centre to prevent a head-on impact. I reckon I’d have been doing about 50 mph and, judging from the other car’s frighteningly rapid approach, that it was doing a similar speed. Sadly, though, and not entirely surprisingly, the other driver tried to evade a crash by steering towards the middle, resulting in a head-on, in the middle of the road, at an impact speed of about a 100 mph.

It was an almighty crash, but my airbag kept me in my seat (albeit with a cracked rib!) and I was able to exit my car and to help the other driver out of her car; she was a French woman, holidaying in The Dales. She couldn’t walk unaided but let me help her across the road to where there was a field gate that she could lean against whilst I ran up the road a little way to where there was a youth hostel from where I’d be able to call the emergency services.

Approaching 11 p.m. on a rural road, there was very little traffic needing to be warned about the wreckage and about ten minutes later the local ‘bobby’ arrived. He had a quick word with the hostel warden who was comforting the clearly distressed French woman and, whilst advising me that she’d admitted to being on the wrong side of the road (thinking she was back in France), he smelt the booze on my breath and asked me to take a breath-test. I saw that the test immediately showed amber but, a few awful seconds later, it turned to red and I was told I’d need to take a re-test at the district police station in Skipton, almost twenty miles distant.

The officer was one of Settle’s regulars, who’d helped my wife and me after one of our son’s had damaged a farm wall, having aquaplaned into it on a stormy evening a few weeks earlier. He was happy to chat, especially thanking me for calling the emergency services when, he said, many drink-drivers would have done a runner. I’d had three pints of beer and he told me that, with his test having taken an age to show red, there was every chance the ‘proper’ test would be negative.

The proper test was negative and, although being a minute or two that I will never, ever forget, did give a reading below the illegal, positive level and even the sergeant who’d officiated was pleasantly light-hearted about the warning that he gave me. I was driven back home by the friendly bobby and, in a pretty sorry and guilt-ridden state, apologised to my wife for the unfortunate end to what should have been a happy evening. That was pretty educational, but there was a further lesson still to come.

Next day, whilst preparing a statement of events for my insurance claim, I phoned the local police station, asking for their confirmation that the other driver had admitted full blame, only to be told that, once she’d seen me being ‘carted away’ for another DUI test, she’d changed her tune and simply denied having been driving on the wrong side, saying that it was my fault. It was the same officer speaking and he had to explain that since the French woman had not been cautioned before making her statement – her admission – there was no further action they could take.

Now, that was a lesson and, since that dark and stormy night when I could easily have ended-up dead, I’ve never had more than one beer to drink before driving. I considered that to be an OK response to the lesson.

What do you think?

What do I think? I think you were drunk. You admitted you'd had three pints, which is one over the two you were allowed. 

The first test showed red. The second, twenty miles away, and sometime later when alcohol had dissipated, showed negative - it would.

I know the roads around Settle. where can you do 50 mph. There is a Settle bypass, and there is a stretch up near Clapham common. The rest are narrow winding roads with speed limits of 30 to 40 MPH.

You were 20 miles from Skipton, near a youth hostel on a rural road. I doubt it was a road that you were allowed to drive 50 mph on. You went around a bend, as rural roads are likely to have. It is likely you were speeding.

Luckily you met a police man who had dealt with your son running off the road and damaging a farm wall. 

Was it the same road?

Anyway you had to use your own insurance, not the French tourist's insurance, so who was to blame?

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The french tourist was to blame for driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic.

King Cotton would have got a driving ban for driving whilst been intoxicated, over the legal limit, if he had been tested sooner.

In the end both drivers had to use their own insurance to pay for the repair of their own vehicles.

The biggest winner was the French driver who did not had to admit liability and did not have to pay for the other drivers repairs.

One hell of a way to learn a life lesson and everyone survived the impact.

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35 minutes ago, Andrew Reeve said:

The french tourist was to blame for driving on the wrong side of the road into oncoming traffic.

King Cotton would have got a driving ban for driving whilst been intoxicated, over the legal limit, if he had been tested sooner.

In the end both drivers had to use their own insurance to pay for the repair of their own vehicles.

The biggest winner was the French driver who did not had to admit liability and did not have to pay for the other drivers repairs.

One hell of a way to learn a life lesson and everyone survived the impact.

I disagree. A French tourist encountered an over the limit drunk driver, and suffered extreme danger and damage.

This drunk driver claimed the French tourist was on the wrong side of the of the road.

There was no evidence that she was, apart from the testimony of the drunk driver King Cotton.

If there was, it should have been settled in court.

You declare the intoxicated if tested sooner would have been incurred  a driving ban.  He was shown to be intoxicated.

Why did he not have a driving ban? Was it because he was aided by a copper that he knew and was biased in his favour?

End of story. He should have been banned, fined and subjected to the proper enforcement of the law.

 

 

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