You’re driving in a new area, distracted by rowdy kids in the back seat, or singing along to the radio; in your rear view you see a sickening flash and realise with a sinking feeling that you’ve been caught by a speed camera… No matter how careful a driver you try to be; it’s happened to us all.
If you’ve recently been busted by a speed trap, we’ve got the facts for you; so you’ll know what to expect when, and how to deal with the fine when it hits your doormat.
If you’re caught speeding by either a traffic officer or a camera, the options are pretty simple. The policeman can give you a verbal warning, which a speed camera cannot, but in most cases you will either be:
- Offered the chance to attend a speed-awareness course, which you’ll have to pay for.
- Issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (a speeding ticket), with a fine of £100 and penalty points.
- Prosecuted for speeding. You will have to go to court, and could face a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 if you were speeding on the motorway), between three and six penalty points on your driving licence, and a possible driving ban.
Although individual police forces can use their discretion, the Association of Chief Police Officers or ACPO suggests the following when enforcing speed limits:
|Speed limit||Minimum speed for a ticket||Minimum speed for prosecution|
|20 mph||25 mph||35 mph|
|30 mph||35 mph||50 mph|
|40 mph||46 mph||66 mph|
|50 mph||57 mph||76 mph|
|60 mph||68 mph||86 mph|
|70 mph||79 mph||96 mph|
The painful wait
If you’ve been flashed then the next few weeks can be a stressful game of cat and mouse with the postman. The police have 14 days to issue you with a ‘notice of intended prosecution’ or NIP which sets out the details of the alleged offence. If you were caught by a camera as opposed to being stopped by a policeman, then this will go to the registered keeper of the vehicle.
If you haven’t had a NIP within 14 days then it’s likely you have escaped prosecution.
In most cases, a fixed penalty notice will be issued; the minimum fine for a speeding offence is £100.
You can choose either to pay this and accept the penalty points or, if you don’t think the speeding ticket is correct, contest the speeding charge in court.
You’ll have 28 days to nominate the driver and pay the fixed penalty. If you ignore it or fail to pay in time your case will be referred to court where the fine my well be higher than the fixed penalty.
If you’ve committed a more serious offence, it is likely that the case will be referred to court where the maximum fine is £1000, or £2500 for motorway offences. Fines imposed by the court will always take into account the circumstances, the speed and your driving record.
…and penalty points
Still reeling from the fine? If you have committed a speeding offence you will also find yourself with between 3 and 6 points, and these are stuck on your licence for three years from the date of the offence.
You can apply to have the points removed from your licence after four years. Points can increase your insurance premiums, and if you ‘collect’ more than 12 in any three year period then you could find yourself without a licence and disqualified from driving.
Speed Awareness Courses
Most police forces in the UK also now offer speed awareness courses as an alternative to points and fines. You will have to pay the cost of the course, but you’ll save yourself the points on your licence.
The courses last around four hours and aim to teach you the consequences of speeding and the effect that your driving has on other road users.
You won’t always be offered the course, as it is at the discretion of the issuing force. If you haven’t been offered one, it’s worth asking the issuing force if they will consider it; they may not accept your request but if they do you can escape the dreaded points. If you have previous points, you are unlikely to be offered a speed awareness course.
You have the right to appeal the fixed penalty notice. If you decide to you have 28 days from the day of issue to do so. Your case will be referred to court, where in most cases it will be overseen by a magistrate.
Bear in mind that in court, the role of the prosecution is simply to prove that you were speeding. Arguments like ‘I didn’t know I was speeding’ and ‘I only exceeded the limit for a few miles’ won’t be taken into consideration.
Unless you are sure of your grounds for appeal we’d recommend thinking carefully about heading to court as should you be unsuccessful the fine is likely to be significantly higher than the original fixed penalty.
If you were caught doing high speeds on the motorway, or driving way over the limit in built up areas, the police have six months to start court proceedings against you. This is also true if you already have more than eight points on your licence.
Your penalty will be based on the severity of the offence, mitigating circumstances; past record and any other circumstances that the Court feels should be taken into account, and can range from 3 points and £100 fine to disqualification and a fine of £2,500.
Although you can represent yourself in court, it is recommended that you get yourself some legal advice so as to give you the chance of the best possible outcome.