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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Motorist beats 98mph speeding charge - by buying back his car and proving it can only manage a top speed of 85mph

By Claire Ellicott

It is hardly the boy racer's vehicle of choice.

About 14 years old and with 130,000 miles on the clock, the Honda Civic driven by

Dale Lyle was barely capable of reaching the speed limit.

So when he received a ticket for apparently driving at almost 100mph on the motorway, he told magistrates the mobile speed camera must have got it wrong.

Prove it, they said. He did . . . but it wasn't easy.

Mr Lyle, 21, who has a clean driving licence, had already sold the car to a friend for £600.

He had to take out a bank overdraft to buy it back.

Enlarge Dale Lyle

Dale Lyle, who was accused of driving at 98mph, holds up the test certificate which proves his 14-year-old Honda Civic has a top speed of 85mph

Then he had to pay an independent driving expert £600 to test the 1.3litre Civic's top speed at a circuit in Bedfordshire.

The result was as expected. Even when driven flat-out, the Honda could still only do a top speed of 85.4mph in fourth gear and 81.3mph in fifth.

Next, Mr Lyle obtained the mobile speed-camera footage of his alleged offence - travelling at 98mph on a 70mph three-lane carriageway of the A38, near Plymouth, on December 13, 2007.

The three-minute film shows three other cars in the frame at the same time, he said, which he believes means his vehicle was mistaken for another.

Mr Lyle could have faced a maximum £1,000 fine and a six-month ban for the speeding charge.

test report.jpg

He said: 'The video evidence the CPS sent me was just appalling. They are just picking on innocent motorists. It makes you wonder how many people say, "Fine, give me the points", when they are not guilty.

Eventually, his hard work paid off, and the Crown Prosecution Service informed him the case had been dropped.

'I'm really glad I fought the system and won,' he said. 'It's shocking how hard it has been for me to prove my innocence.'

Mr Lyle, a finance worker, from Staple Hill, Bristol, recalled his feelings when first served with the prosecution.

'I was in total disbelief when I opened the letter,' he said.

'I've never driven my car over the speed limit, let alone at 98mph. It's such a small car I wouldn't feel safe.

'I told the magistrates that the car was ancient and that there was no way it will do that speed.'

He intends to return to court to seek compensation for the £1,200 he spent proving his innocence.

The CPS said: 'We came to the conclusion that there was no longer sufficient evidence to provide a prospect of a conviction. Recompense is a matter between the defendant and the court.'