A Legal Question

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by TwickenhamCyclist, 15 Jun 2008.

  1. Hi All

    Had a littlt of a tête-à-tête with a driver today. I’ll try and keep it short. Urban narrow dual carriageway - 2 lanes in each direction (A316 between Richmond circus & the Kew “gasworks roundabout” heading towards central London for those who know it). Riding justifiably in primary – around 20mph (30mph limit) traffic flow fairly light – everyone able to overtake me – part of regular commute etc.
    Get a close overtake on purpose with driver swearing through passenger window – something about should be on the pavement – you know the routine.
    Lights red just ahead so I easily caught up with him – on driver side now – he’s still ranting and swearing – threatened to “f…ing knock you off next time you’re in the middle of the road…” etc – I’m sure we’ve all met them – lovely chap – I for once kept my cool and tried to reason with him but as lights changed he carried on ranting and swearing and accelerated off.

    My question is – while he was threatening to “knock me off…” I was well within reach of his ignition. A quick lean through the open window and his keys would have been mine.
    Having had this situation twice in the past, If I simply leaned into the car and removed the keys (with full intention to return them via the police) could I end up being charged for taking his keys – my defence would be that he was threatening me with an offensive weapon (his car) and I was using justifiable force to disarming him – but I get the feeling that with no witnesses I’d somehow end up charged.

    Any thoughts?
  2. PBancroft

    PBancroft Senior Member

    IANAL but my presumption would be that you would be charged, maybe for theft, maybe for something else.
  3. Sh4rkyBloke

    Sh4rkyBloke Jaffa Cake monster

    Manchester, UK
    Yes, the Police may well charge you in this day and age...

    However, throwing his keys down the nearest drain will circumvent any contact with said Police and so everyone is happy...

    ...apart from the f*ckwit driver, of course.
  4. PBancroft

    PBancroft Senior Member

  5. piedwagtail91

    piedwagtail91 Über Member

    he's threatened to knock you off which could result in serious injury or death.by taking his keys you would just be preventing this from happening until the police arrive.
    if your life is "in danger" the surely the police must see this?
    if you weren't in danger why would you remove the keys from a passing car?
    i would have thought that if ,when the police arrive, you walk calmly up and give them the keys you could explain whilst the driver is having an a attack of road rage and making his position even worse.

    the only other way would be leave the keys and ring the police telling them a motorist had threatened to kill you,a s you are ona bike you are concerned about the rest of your journey.he's unlikely to get more than a visit and a word in his ear so a little exaggeration is in order!
  6. Tynan

    Tynan Veteran

    there's a string of petty offences taking place and yes leaning into his car and taking his keys is an offence or likely a variety at the gift of the coppers, none of which will interest them

    more importantly its certain to start a fight isn't it? maybe not at the time if you ride off but next time he sees you, or worse some other poor rider
  7. dondare

    dondare Über Member

    I see some downsides to taking the keys, as well as any legal problems, for instance:
    He may have a spare set handy and come after you straight away.
    He might be quicker and more alert than you think, and grab you before you can get the keys or before you can get away.
    He might recognise you tomorrow or next week.
    He might take it out on another cyclist or other cyclists.
    Any kind of interaction with peanuts should be kept to an absolute minimum; it's best to let them just drive away (or remain stuck in traffic while you ride off) than attempt to get you own back.
  8. Wolf04

    Wolf04 New Member

    Wallsend on Tyne
    Sorry you had to experience as you say an all too common event. I agree with Tynan's comments. The police are sadly not interested so would be more likely to charge you. If you are going to take keys you might as well drag the tosser out of the car (using minimum force obviously) perform a citizens arrest and phone police and using only reasonable force to restrain him till they arrive. Without witnesses though you're better of counting to ten and letting it go.
  9. andyfromotley

    andyfromotley New Member

    Otley, west yorks
    No you are not 'legally within your rights to take his keys. 'you are not in immediate danger of assult by him. His threat was conditional, 'i will knock you off next time you cycle in the middle of the road', is not the same as 'i am am going to knock you off now'.
    He is certainly commiting an offence under the public order act. Either S4 or S5 Threatening words or behaviour. I would fancy a S4 myself. Both are arrestable by a constable if you are commiting the offence but for S5 you must have already been warned by a constable to stop.
    However although there was no constable about a credible report to the police of this behaviour could result in him being summonsed for the offense. (arrest and summons are just different methods of getting people to court in effect)
    As for taking his keys, my view is you are not commiting theft fo a number of reasons
    1. You have no intention of permanantly depriving him of his keys (you intend that the police return them to him.) This is a key element of theft...no intention to permanantly dprive = NO THEFT.
    2. Even if it was decided that you did intend to permanantly deprive him of the keys you could argue that a normal person would have found youre actions reasonable and not dishonest. No DISHONESTY = NO THEFT.

    Just to further complicate matters, should he assault you whilst you are taking his keys, he would probably argue that he was using force to defend his property, which he is entitled to do providing it is reasonable. I think he could argue this successfully, fairly easily.

    On the plus side you have correctly described his car as an offensive weapon. ANYTHING can be described as an offensive weapon if the person using it intends to cause injury, (literaslly 'an intended offensive weapon') proving intent is always tricky but there you go, thats my two pennorth worth.

    My advice, contact the police and insist that the driver is spoken to. He will of course deny it/blame you but it will massively reduce the chances that he will run you over.

    Hope this helps

  10. OP

    TwickenhamCyclist Guest

    Thanks all – some interesting responses.
    While I respect the argument that aggravating a motorist might encourage them to take it out on the next cyclist, I would say that they already have a pretty bad attitude and would therefore possibly be horrible to the next cyclist regardless – as a counter view, if stood up to, it might make the bully think twice before having another pop at the next person.
    Whilst it wasn’t pleasant, I did not feel in any danger as I’m a pretty big bloke and, in my experience, most people aren’t quite as tough once they are out of their cars or can’t drive off (ie stuck in traffic).
    I doubt he really would run me over on purpose and am pretty sure it was just empty threats, but he still shouldn’t behave like a bully.
    I think next time I have some spare cash I’ll invest in a helmet camera so that on the rare occasions when these sorts of events happen at least I’ll have some evidence.
    My “problem” is I always feel like responding to piss poor driver behaviour – depending on my mood this can vary from blowing them a kiss/waving (my personal favourite) to attempting to have a polite word/rational debate to having the red mist descend and swearing at them (my least favourite – but it does feel good at the time).
  11. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    South Manchester
    Waving usually really winds them up, but it's not aggressive - we used to do it on club runs.....

    Just a typical angry person - the sort that swears at any other motorist...
  12. Riding in Circles

    Riding in Circles Veteran

    Just drag him out of the window and beat him to a bloody pulp.
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