The CEO of Lotus was caught speeding, and his defence was absolutely ridiculous
I imagine that being the CEO of a supercar company is a pretty sweet job. Not only do you get paid an absolute fortune and get to travel all over the world, you probably get a bunch of free cars to drive around in as well. However, it seems that with such riches and decadence, you begin to believe your own hype
That certainly appears to be the case for Jean-Marc Gales, the CEO of Lotus cars, who believes that he is above the law. You would think that after routinely breaking speeding restrictions and being caught, you would lose your license for a significant amount of time, right? Well apparently not.
Gales, 54, was clocked doing 102 mph in a 70 mph zone while out testing one of his company's new luxury cars near its headquarters in Norwich, UK.
It's not the first time that the businessman has been caught speeding, with him already have notched up eight points on his licence at the time of the incident. However, he managed to persuade a magistrate that it was imperative that he didn't gain any more in order to ensure that he was still able to test drive the new vehicles himself.
Simon Nicholls, defending, told the magistrates' court that a short ban, rather than more points, would suffice and be a better option for all involved. He pointed to the fact that Gales would still have eight points on his license, meaning that he would have to continue to watch his speed (something which he clearly takes very seriously).
Nicholls claimed that sentencing guidelines are meant to be "handrails not handcuffs", saying that a more lenient sentence would be "in everyone's interest".
Mary Wyndham, chairman of the bench, agreed with Nicholls and issued a 30-day ban on Gales, rather than imposing more points. She told the defence that his client, who decided not to appear at the court, should avoid using public roads to test his cars in the future, particularly when they have a test track at the site already.
Mr Gales was caught doing 96mph on the same road back in 2014 and was given five points and fined almost £400. If the same punishment had been issued for his latest offence, the CEO would've been banned from driving for at least six months.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, was unimpressed with the lenient punishment, saying:
“Driving over the speed limit is selfish, reckless and endangers lives."
“There is no justification for travelling at the speeds demonstrated in this case and Mr Gales should count himself lucky that he did not receive an additional six points on his licence, resulting in a 12-month ban."
“Excessive speeding is a menace on our roads and the law should be used to its fullest extent, making clear that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
According to sentencing guidelines, those driving in excess of 100 mph in a 70 mph zone should be given six points or be disqualified from driving for between seven and 56 days. Driving 'grossly in excess' of the limit could also justify a longer disqualification.
Mr Nicholls told the press that magistrates had made a “common sense decision”, adding: “There are people out there doing far worse - someone driving at 35mph on their mobile phone is far more dangerous.”
It seems pretty mad that someone can get away with breaking the law on the basis that they need to test cars. If Gales didn't face any form of severe punishment, does that now set a precedent for other people who get caught excessively breaking the speed limit?