Driving with bright lights

Hertfordshire Mercury, 20th November 1915


At Hatfield Petty Sessions on Monday, Reginald William Lay (30), of 16 Canterbury Road, Watford, was charged under the Defence of the Realm Act with driving a motor-car with powerful headlights at Hatfield on October 28.  The defendant pleaded guilty to having the lights, but said he should like to make an explanation.

PS Olding stated that on the night in question he was on duty in New Town, Hatfield, when he saw a stream of light approaching from the direction of the Gun, and an instant later the defendant appeared with his car, on which there were very bright headlights throwing a beam of light for a distance of 60 or 70 yards.  When he stopped the defendant he said he did not know that there had been a lighting restriction order made in Hatfield.  The defendant at once reduced his lights.  Copies of the Lighting Restriction Order (produced) had been published and posted throughout the county and adjoining counties since October 21.

Mr Ernest Streader, a Special Constable, said the defendant had two bright headlights and two smaller oil lamps.  Supt Sullivan: ‘Was there more light than was necessary for the defendant to see where he was going?’  The witness:  ‘Certainly.’  The defendant pleaded ignorance of the Lighting Order.  His business took him about travelling in three or four different counties, and having been out for about five days he was unaware that the Lighting Order had been issued.  When he left Watford earlier in the week the lighting was the same as it had been all through the war.  On the night in question there was a very thick fog, and it was impossible for him to see his way with oil lamps.  He admitted that his lights were bright, but he had them on for his own protection and that of other people on the road.  It was impossible to see where he was going without the lights.  As an instance, about a week ago, even with his headlights on, he drove into a ditch and had to stay there for five hours, and on the night of the charge it took him 31/4 hours to drive from Hatfield to Watford.

Mr Lloyd:  ‘Were your lamps obscured in any way?’  The defendant:  ‘No, I had just put them on to find my way.’  Mr Lloyd:  ‘Have you ever driven a dog-cart or a carriage?’  The defendant:  ‘No.’  Mr Lloyd:  ‘I have for many years, and have always been able to find my way with a couple of candles.’

The Chairman said the Bench had decided to inflict a fine of £1.

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