A FLAT phone battery doesn’t just mean you can’t check Facebook – it could also land you in court.
It happened to Jemima Kelly, who ended up with a £476 fine after her phone died on a bus, meaning she couldn’t prove she’d paid her ticket.
Her bizarre case reveals how Brits can end up in trouble with authorities by being forgetful, not knowing the rules or just plain unlucky.
Today we look at Jemima’s tale of injustice and some of the other ways people can unexpectedly get in trouble with the law.
Jemima last week told how she was bizarrely convicted after using Apple Pay — a way of paying for things using an iPhone — to get her bus fare last October.
Five minutes later her battery died, meaning that she couldn’t prove she had “tapped in” when asked by a bus inspector.
He took her details, but the Financial Times writer heard nothing until a letter after Christ-mas said she had been charged with failing to show a ticket. She was asked to send a bank statement proving the payment, which she did, but was then told it was insufficient.
After calling and emailing Transport for London, but not getting a response, Jemima got another letter saying she had been found guilty in a magistrates’ court and fined £476.50.
Eventually, sense prevailed and she had her conviction overturned and money returned.
She later said of Apple Pay: “I always thought that criminals were meant to be the ones that exploited ‘innovation’.
But it felt like innovation had exploited me, and turned me into a criminal.”
Transport for London says if you pay using a gadget it must have enough battery — since passengers need to prove payment.
But if someone is caught out they can get in touch right away, with proof of payment, to end the matter.
Some of the lesser-known motoring offences can be committed by even the most careful drivers.
- Flashing your headlights to warn other drivers about upcoming speed traps.
- Driving with a dog unsecured.
- Parking on the wrong side of the road at night with rear light reflectors not visible to traffic.
- Running out of screen wash.
- Looking down at your phone while using it as a sat nav when driving. It should be secured to the windscreen or dashboard.
- Obscuring your view by hanging an air freshener from your rear-view mirror.
Police will give you a £50 on-the-spot fine (fixed penalty notice) if they catch you doing any of the above.
They have the discretion to give you 14 days to sort it out — but often they don’t.
You need to go to court to contest a fixed penalty notice, where you could end up paying higher charges.
Kelly Bosworth, 30, of Sleaford, Lincs, was fined £300 by magistrates for no windscreen washer fluid in her Vauxhall in 2016.
Using your phone as a sat nav is also an offence — unless it is fitted to a mount on the windscreen or dashboard.
You cannot hold it, or have it on the passenger seat. It is a more serious offence than those above, with up to a £200 fine and six penalty points.
Forgetting to tell certain authorities and insurers of a change in personal circumstances can get you in serious trouble.
You must tell the DVLA if you move house, take a new name or develop certain medical conditions or risk a £1,000 fine.
Your car insurer also needs to have up-to-date info about your driving habits and history, otherwise you could invalidate your policy and become illegally uninsured.
The RAC has warned of surprising ways you could void your premium, including under-estimating mileage, not declaring your car is used to commute or has been modified.
Last year mum Kelly Anne Daly, 30, from Airdrie, North Lanarks, feared having to pay for repairs of up to £100,000 after accidentally causing a four-car pile-up while driving home from work.
She discovered to her horror that her policy, taken through broker goskippy.com, wasn’t valid as she’d forgotten to add cover for commuting when she returned to her job after two years’ maternity leave.
After intervention from The Scottish Sun on Sunday, the insurer agreed to pay third party costs.
She still had to foot the cost of her £10,500 Dacia Duster car, which was written off in the incident, but was relieved not to pay the full cost of the damage.
Her husband Michael said: “It was an honest mistake — we weren’t trying to save money.”
Sometimes people are overpaid state benefits because their circumstances change — and they don’t realise or forget to inform the benefit office.
If this happens you will not necessarily be suspected of fraud but it’s likely that you will be be ordered to pay it back — or face court action.
A common problem for hard-working families is receiving too much child benefit because their earnings rise above the threshold at which you have to start paying it back.
Parents get full child benefit — £20.70 per week for the first child — if they are each paid less than £50,000 a year.
Those earning between £50,000 and £60,000 must pay a portion back in extra income tax through a Self Assessment return. Many parents don’t realise this or forget to do it.
Around 35,000 have been fined for keeping it all. HMRC cancelled 6,000 fines for those who argued they didn’t know about the new rules, introduced in 2013.
- Unfairly treated over a trifling offence? Send your tales to [email protected]
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