Lotus CEO Busted at 102 MPH, Lawyer Claims He Was Just Testing the Car

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Most of us have been caught speeding at one time or another. As enthusiasts, it’s often difficult not to try and squeeze out every last ounce of joy from a fun-to-drive automobile when the path ahead is open. While we may think of corporate executives as soulless monsters, singularly focused on satisfying shareholders and lining their pockets, some of them are also people who enjoy driving cars.

Lotus CEO Jean-Marc Gales is definitely such a man, and his love of driving ended up getting him into trouble when he was nailed for traveling 102 mph in a 70 mph zone on England’s A11 expressway. While the offense occurred roughly a year ago, his court date was yesterday. With eight points already on his license (most of which also came from speeding violations), things looked bleak for Gales, at least until his lawyer managed the most brilliant defense in traffic court history — claiming that it was vital the CEO not lose the ability to test drive new models.

It worked.

According to The Telegraph, defending attorney Simon Nicholls explained to the Norwich courtroom that Gales was only testing the new Lotus as part of his job. Since he would need to continue to do so, Nicholls suggested a short ban as an alternative to adding more points — which would result in Gales’ disqualification as a motorist.

The attorney insisted that sentencing guidelines were “handrails not handcuffs,” suggesting that a brief suspension would be “in everyone’s interest.”

We don’t know if Mary Wyndham, chairman of the bench, is a car lover or just easily intimidated by lawyers, but she agreed to impose a 30-day driving ban instead of adding points. Gales, who was not present in the courtroom, was fined £666 for the offense — followed by a £100 in court fee and a £66 “victim surcharge.” All in, that’s about $1,183 USD.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at the UK road safety group Brake, didn’t seem too pleased with the court’s decision.

“Driving over the speed limit is selfish, reckless and endangers lives,” he said. “There is no justification for traveling 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 [license], 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 behavior will not be tolerated.”

I’m not sure if this is a victory for driving enthusiasts or just another case of wealthy executives getting away with murder, but I am clearly less hurt by the outcome than the well-meaning nerds at Brake. In any case, I’ll definitely be trying the “it’s for my job” defense the next time I’m slapped with a speeding ticket.

[Image: Lotus Cars]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 23 comments
  • NeilM NeilM on Jan 25, 2018

    Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at the UK road safety group Brake, didn’t seem too pleased with the court’s decision. “[...] Excessive speeding is a menace on our roads and the law should be used to its fullest extent, making clear that this kind of behavior will not be tolerated.” I'm against excessive speeding too. Just the right amount, on the other hand... I'm surprised the Lotus was able to hit 102 mph on the A11, which is a pretty busy road.

    • ...m... ...m... on Jan 26, 2018

      ...hell, man, coming down I-80 into salt lake city, one-ten is just the normal flow of traffic...

  • John Horner John Horner on Feb 04, 2018

    Hmmm, do you suppose the judge would have imposed the same sentence on young man with the exact same driving record, a heavy accent and dark skin? I bet not.

  • Grg I am not sure that this would hold up in snow country. It used to be that people in snow country would not be caught dead in a white car. Now that white cars have become popular in the north, I can't tell you how many times I have seen white cars driving in the snow without lights. Almost all cars are less visible in a snow storm, or for that matter, rain storm, without lights. White ones become nearly invisible.
  • Douglas I have a 2018 BMW 740e PHEV, and love it. It has a modest electric only range compared to newer PHEV's (about 18 miles), but that gets me to the office and back each day. It has a small gas tank to make room for the battery, so only holds about 11 gallons. I easily go 600 or more miles per tank. I love it, and being able to take long road trips without having to plug in (it just operates like a regular Hybrid if you never plug it in). It charges in 75 minutes in my garage from a Level 2 charger I bought on Amazon for $350. Had an electrician add a dryer outlet beside the breaker box. It's the best of both worlds and I would definitely want a PHEV for my next car. 104,000 miles and ZERO problems with the powertrain components (so far).
  • Panther Platform I had a 98 Lincoln Mark VIII so I have a soft spot for this. The Mark VIII styling was not appreciated by all.
  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...