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Ambulance driver taken to court for speeding during emergency response

In Europe
June 09, 2024

An ambulance driver who was taken to court for speeding while responding to a blue light emergency has called the proceedings “embarrassing”.

Matt Wood, 27, was caught going at 90mph on the M27 as he drove to Southampton Airport in January last year to pick up an “unstable” patient arriving from Guernsey, in the Channel Islands.

The emergency worker, who was driving an unmarked ambulance, provided evidence he was responding to a medical emergency but was still prosecuted, which he has branded “a complete waste of time”.

He attended Southampton magistrates’ court after receiving a notice of intended prosecution (NIP), but the case was eventually dismissed because of the evidence he provided.

He said: “I couldn’t believe it even got taken to court. It’s very odd this has happened.

“I am pleased the case has been dropped but it is a waste of everyone’s time.

“It’s embarrassing it has even got this far. I am hoping this won’t happen again.”

Matt Wood was still prosecuted despite providing evidence he was responding to an emergency

Matt Wood was still prosecuted despite providing evidence he was responding to an emergency

Hampshire Constabulary said records indicated the vehicle used was “not equipped to transport people and was not marked as an ambulance”. Though the emergency vehicle he was driving was an unmarked Volvo, he did use blue lights.

Mr Wood argued their cars must be unmarked as they are kept at their homes.

He said: “We serve the emergency flights from Guernsey – we don’t know in advance what time they will be arriving…The patient was deemed to be an emergency case.

“It was argued it was not an emergency as we should’ve known what time the flight would be arriving.

“When the NIP was served on me, I didn’t know whether to laugh or not. It’s quite embarrassing, especially as it is our job.

“Working in this field, my colleagues and I know there is a risk of this happening, not when it is clear cut.

“In these cases we always make it clear to Driving Standards and the police who we are and what we are doing, and they tend to leave it alone, but not this time.”

A Unison spokesman said: “NHS vehicles equipped with blue lights have arrangements in place for handling speeding tickets when dealing with emergencies.

“Ambulance workers can claim exemptions for going over the speed limit, but issues may arise if they’re in unmarked cars.”

The Crown Prosecution Service said a reviewing lawyer took the view the case should be brought to trial after police submitted a file of Mr Wood’s speeding.

A spokesman added: “The CPS have a duty to continually review cases, and in light of Mr Woods’ evidence, the lawyer in court took the decision to offer no evidence and stop the prosecution.”

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