Speed cameras are certainly controversial. Whether you think they are useful to encourage safe driving or they are simply there as a money making tool to help authorities in issuing speeding fines, motorists who exceed the speed limits leave themselves open to speeding fines.
Nobody wants to receive a speeding fine and three points on their driving licence. It can be beneficial to understand the consequences of speeding fines, how tickets are processed and issued and how the appeals process works if you think there has been a genuine error.
Speeding Fines Explained
On many of the roads that you drive on there will be a legal speed limit which is set for a reason. If you exceed these limits you are breaking the law and if caught by a speed camera or the police the following could happen;
- Receive a verbal warning if you are stopped by a police officer
- You may be asked to attend a speed awareness course and the cost will be met by you
- You may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice which is currently £100 and receive three penalty points on your driving licence
- In certain circumstances you may be prosecuted for a speeding offence. In this instance you would be required to appear in court and you could receive a fine of up to £1,000 or £2,500 if the offence was committed while driving on the motorway.
- In addition you may receive between three and six penalty points on your licence or a ban from driving.
The length of which will be determined by the court. The severity of your punishment will often depend on the seriousness of the speeding offence which is determined by the speed at which you were driving at the time.
A police officer can use their discretion as to how far over the speed limit they deem to be unacceptable but the Chief Police Officers recommend;
- In a 20mph zone – 24mph or more
- In a 30mph zone – 35mph or more
- In a 40 mph zone – 46mph or more
- In a 50mph zone – 57mph or more
- In a 60mph zone – 68mph or more
- In a 70mph zone – 79mph or more
If caught speeding, the registered vehicle owner will be issued with a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) which describes the offence along with a Section 172 notice.
Even if you disagree with the Notice of Intended Prosecution you must complete and return the Section 172 notice stating who was driving the vehicle at the time of the offence. This must be completed within 28 days.
If the offence resulted in a road traffic accident, a police officer may issue a Notice of Intended Prosecution verbally.
Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
After receiving a paper notice and once returned you will be sent a conditional offer through a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). The fine can be either paid and you accept the penalty points on your licence or proceed to court and contest the speeding fine.
It is important to be aware however that a court of law only has to prove that you were speeding.
Circumstances such as you didn’t intend to or you didn’t realise that you were speeding are not strong enough arguments.
In some situations the police may choose to prosecute you in court. This is usually if you have more than eight points on your licence or you were driving considerably faster than the designated speed limit this can apply.
The police have up to six months to issue a court summons in these circumstances.
Contesting Speeding Fines
There are procedures in place which mean that you can contest speeding fines if you do not agree with them. Fines usually will not be overturned unless you can prove one of the following;
- You were not speeding at the time
- You were not driving the vehicle at the time of the offence
- There was no notice of the speed limit on the road you were driving on
- The vehicle that you were caught speeding in was not yours
- Your vehicle had been stolen
Some police forces will accept informal appeals for speeding fines and an appeal should be written correspondence describing in detail why the speeding notice should not have been issued.
If the local police decline your appeal or they do not accept informal appeals you can request a court hearing for a formal appeal. This is carried out by completing the relevant section on your Fixed Penalty Notice.
It is advised that you seek legal advice before attempting to launch any action for a court hearing to determine the merit of your case and the likelihood of losing.
Contesting a Speeding Offence in Court
Once you have decided to contest your speeding fine in court there are several steps that you have to progress through;
Stage 1 Making your plea and completing the mitigation form.
This should be completed if your legal representative believes that you have a good chance of success in overturning the speeding fine. There are two ways that you can approach this. You can either plead guilty and state mitigating circumstances or you can plead not guilty.
Pleading guilty with mitigating circumstances is an option if you are not facing a driving ban. Pleading guilty can usually be done by post.
During this stage you may be asked to complete what is known as a statement of mitigation where you should describe why you were speeding and why your penalty should be more lenient. This information needs to be strong enough and will be presented in court.
When pleading not guilty you can ask witnesses and your case will be scheduled for a trial. Legal representatives will attend the trial to defend your plea.
Stage 2 Evidence
You can also request evidence of the speeding offence that the police have on file. This can be useful if you genuinely can’t remember the offence, you can’t recall who was driving, if you think that there was an error in identifying your vehicle or a mistake was made when recording your speed.
Stage 3 Court Appearance
During the trial the prosecution must prove that you were the driver of the vehicle when the offence occurred and your speed exceeded the legal limit for the road.
Stage 4 Guilty or Not Guilty
A guilty verdict will result in a fine anywhere up to £1,000, but this can be up to £2,500 if speeding on a motorway, penalty points or a complete driving disqualification if you were more than 30mph over the designated speed limit
If a not guilty verdict is reached no further action will be taken.
The best way to avoid a speeding fine is to comply with the speed limits and be aware of the speed at which you are travelling.
As cars become more powerful and advanced, it is even easier to exceed the speed limit without even realising particularly when you are driving on familiar roads.
In some vehicles built in satellite navigation systems or other apps and technologies can alert drivers when they are exceeding the speed limit, many of which do so without even knowing. Some devices can also alert you to areas where speed cameras are situated so you can check your speed.
Speeding fines are avoidable if you are aware of your driving and you make sure you know what the limits are on the roads you are driving on.
About the author:
This article was written by a member of the Expert Answers legal advice team. Expert Answers provides online legal advice on all aspects of UK Law to users in the United Kingdom.