The Memo: Drivers make common law claim to avoid speeding penalties

Group 723.png

The latest sovereign citizens, Warwickshire motorists?: Drivers make common law claim to avoid speeding penalties

Erin Bradbury – 14 August 2023

If 2023 hadn’t been a bizarre enough year in the news, things just got better. This year, there has been a surge in efforts to avoid speeding penalties in Warwickshire, only this time, by appeal to the common law. So far in 2022/23, there have been as many as 20 attempts by motorists in Warwickshire alone to claim they are answerable to their own interpretations of the common law. Most recently, in a bid to escape their legal obligation, one disgruntled driver sent numerous documents to the police citing ‘medieval law’ and ‘customs’ along with a demand for millions of pounds. Rather than the speed awareness course the motorist was initially eligible for, they walked away with fines totaling over £1,000 and six points on their license.

The increase in these instances recorded by Warwickshire Police within the past year by motorists, has seen some go as far as to identity as sovereign citizens, citing obsolete laws. The UK strand of the sovereign citizenship movement originated from the US militia in the nineties, which originally emerged from the anti-government protests in the seventies. Sovereign citizens, otherwise referred to as ‘freeman on the land’, are something of a legal fiction, who use arguments that appear to be based in law (but in all actuality are baseless), to try and achieve their aims.

Since the pandemic, there has been an upsurgence in the number of people who proclaim themselves sovereign citizens. Even in recent memory, during the pandemic there were instances of anti-vax sovereign citizens declaring themselves ‘common law constables’ quoting clauses of the Magna Carta as they attempted to remove coronavirus patients from hospitals and protest outside of schools. But sadly, it seems that whatever side of the sovereign citizen fence you fall, it won’t get you out of a speeding ticket.