Speeding is illegal. Speed limits are there to protect other motorists, and other members of the public. Quite simply, speed limits on the roads save lives. If you want to avoid a speeding ticket, keep to the speed limits.
That said, it’s important to note that a speed limit is the maximum speed a motorist is permitted to reach. If the conditions or circumstances are such that a lower speed is more appropriate and you drive faster (but still within the speed limit), and there is an accident, you could still be charged with a driving offence.
Some argue that speed limits are at times too low, but it is impossible to set a speed limit that adjusts itself depending on driver ability. Speeding laws are designed to ensure a cautious driver is not forced to drive beyond their limits to keep up with the traffic flow dictated by a boy racer.
What if I am caught speeding?
If you are caught speeding, you will be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) – a speeding ticket – outlining the offence, and a form called a Section 172 notice. You must complete the s172 notice within 28 days declaring who was driving the car at the time of the alleged offence. If you don’t, you could face six points on your licence, and a fine of up to £1,000.
Once the NIP is returned you may be:
- issued with a fixed penalty notice: this means 3 to 6 points on your licence, and a fine of between 50% and 150% of your weekly income – depending on the seriousness of the offence. You could also face disqualification
- invited to attend a speed awareness course. This allows you to avoid the fine and points on your licence but you will have to pay for the course personally
- prosecuted and fined a percentage of your weekly wage depending on how fast you were going, and receive points on your licence (or be disqualified)
What can I do if I dispute the speeding ticket?
You are innocent until proven guilty, but if you do not challenge the speeding ticket, it will be assumed to be correct. If you believe you do not deserve the speeding ticket, or you think it was sent by mistake, you may have grounds to challenge it. For example:
You were not at the wheel at that time: you’ll need to be able to prove that you were elsewhere at the time the offence was committed.
There were mistakes in the details on your ticket: significant mistakes can mean the NIP is invalid (eg, if the wrong charge is listed on it). However, it can be amended for errors. To successfully challenge it, you will have to be able to show that any amendments would be fatal to the case against you, and highly prejudicial to continue the case.
Signatures were missing on the ticket: this omission alone can overturn your case in a speeding ticket.
The notice was received beyond the 14 days allowed by law: if you do not receive the NIP within 14 days, any prosecution will usually be considered invalid.
The alleged speed violation is inconsistent with the traffic signs posted in the area: you should review the area and make sure the speed limit was properly posted and sufficiently visible.
The camera or the speed gun was faulty or recorded the wrong speed: this is particularly effective if the data is near the borderline of legal speeds. You’ll need to know for sure that your speedometer is in fact accurate. The problem may be proving it in court.
Your GPS data differs from that of the speed camera or gun: a driver safety GPS-based telematics device has been used successfully in the UK to overturn the data from a speeding camera or speed gun
Deciding whether to challenge the NIP
You should weigh up your options carefully and take the advice of specialist speeding offence solicitors before challenging a speeding ticket. It may not be easy defending a speeding ticket in court. If you are convicted, you could face a heavier penalty as well as additional legal fees.