Whether the car park where the driving took place was a ‘public place’ within the meaning of section 3.
Held: The appeal failed.
Laws LJ set out the following propositions as accurately summarising the relevant legal principles:
a. The burden of proving that a particular location is a ‘public place’ rests on the Crown to prove beyond reasonable doubt;
b. There must be evidence that the public actually utilised premises before a court can conclude that they are a ‘public place’. It is not sufficient to say that the public could have access if they were so inclined: Spence, supra.
c. Premises will be private where they are entered for reasons beneficial to the occupier: Vivier, supra, p24d, or where they are visited for business purposes: Harrison v Hill 1932 JC 13, 16;
d. However, even business premises will be ‘public’ if the location is a public service, a railway station, a hospital or other public utility: ex parte Taussik, supra, . This will include a pub car park during licensed hours: R v Waters (1963) 47 Cr App R 149,154;
e. A distinction is to be made where premises are occupied by a large number of people – even if there has been a condition of entry for those people, the premises will be a ‘public place’: Planton v Director of Public Prosecutions  RTR 9,  (explaining Vivier, supra). This is because a potentially large number of individuals need to be caught or protected by the umbrella of the legislation.
‘In the present case there are no restrictions whatever upon the access of members of the public generally to the inner park during its opening hours. There is no selective process. A member of the public need not demonstrate or even harbour any particular reason for going there, albeit that the car park is intended for the use of customers of the premises. The car park adjoins a public road. In my judgment those factors are in this case sufficient to justify the lower court’s conclusion that this was a public place. ‘
Laws LJ, David Steel J
 EWHC 1280 (Admin)
Road Traffic Act 1988 3
England and Wales
Cited – Regina v Spence CACD 24-May-1999
A private company car park, where there was no proof of use by the public, was not a public road, and a driver could not be convicted of dangerous driving whilst in it. There must be evidence that the public actually utilised premises before a court . .
Cited – Harrison v Hill 1932
Mr Harrison was convicted by the Sheriff-substitute of an offence under section 7(4) of the 1930 Act on the ground that, while disqualified from holding a driving licence, he had driven a vehicle on a specific road. The Sheriff-substitute stated a . .
Cited – Planton v Director of Public Prosecutions QBD 6-Jun-2001
The defendant was found by police sat in the driving seat of a car parked on an isthmus which would be submerged at high tide. The engine was running, and the car lights were on. He failed a breath test, but argued at trial that since the car had . .
Cited – Regina – – Director of Public Prosecutions ex parte Taussik 7-Jun-2000
Even business premises will be ‘public’ if the location is a public service, a railway station, a hospital or other public utility. . .
Cited – Regina v Waters 1963
A public House car park may be a public place for the purposes of the road traffic legislation during opening hours when the public may be expected to have recourse to it. . .
Cited – Director of Public Prosecutins v Vivier QBD 1991
There had been a traffic accident in a large privately owned caravan park.
Held: Premises will be private where they are entered for reasons beneficial to the occupier. Referring to Harrison v Hill: ‘What Lord Sands, and indeed Lord Clyde, say . .
Cited – Richardson v Director of Public Prosecutions Admn 28-Feb-2019
Private Car park was not a public plae.
The defendant appealed from his conviction for being drunk in charge of a vehicle in a public place. The place was marked private but allowed for paring for designated businesses.
Held: The appeal succeeded. The phrase public phrase had to be . .
Cited – Bowen and Others v Isle of Wight Council ChD 3-Dec-2021
What makes a road a Road?
The Court was asked whether a Road was a ‘road’ for the purposes of the 1984 Act’
Held: It has often been said that the public access mentioned in the definition of ‘road’ must be both actual access and legal or lawful access. However, simple . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.
Road Traffic, Crime
Updated: 10 December 2021; Ref: scu.228215