Have you ever been driving along, perfectly safe and carefully, only to have some loony-toonz driver almost hit you? Often, if visibility ought not to be a problem, you’ll wonder to yourself, in a very un-PC way, “What is that driver? Blind or something?” In at least one case, in a true story that reads precisely like a Monty Python sketch, the answer would be yes:
A police officer described yesterday how he pulled over a motorist who was veering across the road and found that he had no eyes.
Omed Aziz, who lost both his eyes in a bomb blast and is also deaf, was caught behind the wheel with a friend sitting in the passenger seat giving him instructions on when to steer and brake, and how quickly to drive.
Aziz, who also suffers from leg tremors, claimed he was perfectly safe and denied a charge of dangerous driving before being convicted.
Pc Glyn Austin told magistrates that he saw Aziz’s white Peugeot 405 move from one side of the ring road in Oldbury, West Midlands, to the other, crossing a white hazard line, before turning left.
He and a colleague had already seen him successfully negotiate two roundabouts and a corner.
Pc Austin said that when he pulled over the car, Aziz, who wore dark glasses, was fumbling with the controls. When asked if he noticed anything about Aziz he replied: “I did — he didn’t have any eyes.”
He said: “I attempted to speak to the driver. At that point the passenger leaned across and said ‘He’s blind’.”
Aziz, 31, and his passenger, who was banned from driving at the time, were arrested and taken to Smethwick police station, where Aziz confirmed that he was totally blind and had impaired hearing in his left ear as a result of injuries from an explosion in Iraq before he moved to Britain.
He said he had driving experience prior to being blinded and said he was suffering from depression about his injuries and was “testing himself” by getting behind the wheel.
Warley magistrates heard that he also lost a thumb and two fingers in the blast.
Pc Austin’s colleague, Pc Stuart Edge, told the court that he asked Aziz whether he could see him. He said: “He removed the dark-coloured sunglasses he was wearing and I could clearly see he was blind as he had no eyes.”
Timothy Gascoyne, defending, said Aziz, who did not give evidence, should be cleared because “the question is not whether his driving was dangerous, but whether being blind makes it dangerous”.
He said: “If my client hadn’t been blind he wouldn’t have been arrested for dangerous driving, so it doesn’t fall far below what is expected from a careful and competent driver.”
Peter Love, prosecuting, told the court: “A blind man controlling a vehicle is inherently dangerous. A careful and competent driver would not dream of driving in this manner.”
Aziz, from Darlaston, Staffs, who was followed by police driving at 35mph for half a mile before he was stopped at 11pm in April, was led into court by an interpreter. He previously admitted driving with no tax, insurance or MOT.
Finding Aziz guilty, Richard Knight, the chairman of the bench, said: “We find he was aware of the real risk of driving with his injuries and therefore this amounts to dangerous driving.” He will be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court next week. (Bolded emphasis mine.)
I’m absolutely delighted by the lawyering there, too. DQ likes to say, “If you have the facts, argue the facts; if you have the law, argue the law; and if you have neither, pound the table.” And I would add that, if you’re in a situation in which you can’t pound the table, fall back on illogical double talk.