Alleged Speeding Offences (Tickets, Points & Fines) and their Defences
Speeding - basic guide
The prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you;
- A Motor Vehicle
- On a public road or in a public place
- At a speed exceeding the limit for the road.
for you to be found guilty.
If want want more information - read on;
The offence of speeding is outlined in Section 89 Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984. The police or the magistrates court will impose fines for speeding and 3-6 penalty points on your driving licence.
In essence, the prosecution have to prove that a person drove a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding the limit for the road in question.
People often get confused about the manner in which a speed limit is imposed.
Quite often a defendant will raise the issue that there were speed limit signs on the road indicating a restricted speed limit.
Section 81 - Where No Speed Limit Signs are in Place
This section of the act, states that any road can be limited to a speed limit of 30 mph (even if there are no signs in place indicating a speed limit) if there is street lighting in place, consisting of lamps placed at a distance of no more than 200 yrds apart.
So if you are driving on a road that has street lighting in place and those lamps are closer together than 200 yrds, the road is automatically restricted to a 30 mph speed limit regardless of the presence of specific speed limit signs.
If you receive an NIP warning (Notice of Intended Prosecution) that you are being prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit but you are of the belief that there were not any specific speed limit signs in place, then you should check the street lighting system that exists, because if the lamps are placed at no more than 200 yards apart, the limit is lawful.
On roads where there is no lighting, or the lamps are not situated at a distance of no more than 200 yards from one another, the speed limit can only be enforced by signs indicating the speed limit.
The Traffic Signs and General Directions 2002 states the requirements for speed limit signs.
It is also a requirement that the road signs need to meet those directions with regard to colour, shape, size and visibility. It is an additional requirement that signs should be clearly visible at regular intervals during the enforced limit as well as within specific distances of any road junctions.
If the speed limit signs fail to comply with these directions, the speed limit would not be enforceable as it isn’t lawful.
See our Speeding Offence FAQ's for more information.
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Speeding Conviction Sentences
Speeding Offences carry from 3 to 6 penalty points. If the speeding offence involves a high speed, the court can use Section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act to impose a discretionary driving ban.
It is usual for Magistrates to impose discretionary driving bans of up to 56 days, but, it is important to note, that Section 34, Road traffic Act 1988 clearly states that the period of any discretionary ban can be set for whatever period the Magistrate deems appropriate to the offence.
It is quite common for discretionary bans to be used as a short, sharp, shock strategy.
Defending a Speeding Allegation
Allegations of speeding can be defended using either the defence that you were not the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence, or that the prosecution has put forward unreliable evidence. There are two additional theoretical speeding defences, the first being that you were not driving the vehicle on a public road at the time of the alleged offence, the second that you were not driving a motor vehicle.
If you have any questions with regard to your offence and whether any of these technical defences can be raised, then please contact us for further assistance.
Because it is up to the prosecution to have to prove a reasonable doubt with regard to your speeding allegation, you need to cast a doubt in order to defend the allegation.
One quite common way to defend speeding allegations is to demonstrate that for your offence, the speed detection device was not being used in accordance with the Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) codes of practice.
In order to rely upon a speed detection device for evidence, the Prosecution are required to show that it was being used in accordance with Home Office Approval. The required Home Office Approval necessitates the testing of the device by ACPO TET.
ACPO TET set out the necessary criteria for using the device. If you can prove that the device was not being used in accordance with that criteria, then it was also not being used with the required Home Office Approval meaning that the evidence would be treated as being unreliable.
You cannot be convicted of a speeding offence purely on the uncorroborated opinion evidence of a Police Officer. It is a requirement that the Police Officer, having formed an opinion that a vehicle is exceeding a speed limit, then uses a device to corroborate his personal opinion.
The devices commonly include a VASCAR device (which measures time and distance) and is carried in a police vehicle to be used on a follow check and hand held laser guns. In is also common to use calibrated speedometers during a follow check. An additional method of speed detection is with GATSO cameras, using a static camera housed in a roadside box, using radar to measure time and distance.
All of these speed detection devices are subject to the same Home Office Approval and strict calibration requirements in order for the evidence that they provide to be treated as reliable.
Genuine Speeding defences
To begin with, please understand this – you should never invent a defence for a speeding offence – you either have a legitimate defence for your alleged offence or you don’t.
Should you be caught trying to mislead the police – by saying that you were not the driver when you were for example – then you will in all likelihood be charged with perverting the course of justice. By lying to the police you will have turned a minor traffic offence into a possible prison sentence!!
Our advice is DON’T DO IT!!
The risks of misleading the court greatly outweigh the potential benefits. If you commit perjury by misleading the court then you may well go to prison, which is a far worse proposition than potentially losing your licence.
The internet is full of sites promising quick fix solutions in relation to defending speeding allegations;
“We Guarantee to get you off, for only £??” / “When you receive your NIP use these letters and the police won’t issue a summons…”
We get calls everyday from people who have tried to beat the system by claiming things such as “It was my foreign friend driving and he’s gone back now & I’ve lost his address….”
Hard as it is to believe, you will not be the first to use such a story, and the police won’t believe you if you try it. It is normal for such claims to be investigated further or alternatively to prosecute you for failing to give the driver identity (6 points). In addition, they will ask for proof that ‘your friend’ was insured, and if you fail to prove that he was, they will prosecute you for permitting him to drive without insurance ( 6 - 8 points).
It is possible if the police really disbelieve your story that they will investigate in order to prove that you were attempting to pervert the course of justice and will tie you up in knots as they do so. Because the police deal with issues like these everyday, they are very experienced at getting to the truth. It doesn’t matter what you think you may have learned on dubious internet sites, if you set out to deceive the police in a road traffic matter like this, they will outwit you 90% of the time.
Real Speeding Defences
It is up to the Prosecution to prove each of these elements beyond reasonable doubt;
- The drivers identity
- That they were driving a motor vehicle
- That they were driving in a public place or on a public road
- That they were at the time exceeding the speed limit
It is a requirement of law that the prosecution proves every one of those elements of the offence, so if they are unable to prove any one of them, the prosecution case will fail.
In order for you be found not guilty, you need to cast doubt, on;
- The suggestion that you were driving
- The suggestion that you were in a motor vehicle
- The suggestion that you were in a public place or on a public road
- The suggestion that you were exceeding the speed limit
If you can successfully cast a reasonable doubt on any of the above they you must be found not guilty…….!
The basic premise is that you yourself don’t have to prove anything, you only have to cast reasonable doubt.
BUT it’s not that simple!!
How Can You Cast Doubt?
- The drivers identity.
In response to the request for the drivers identity under s.172 Road Traffic Act 1988 you will probably have already admitted to being the driver of the vehicle. This ‘confession’ amounts to prosecution evidence that will be used to prove that you were the driver. But, this is your confession, and we have had instances of clients who initially admitted that they were the driver, but later discovered that they were not driving at the time of the alleged offence and so have retracted their confession.
As long as you are believed when you make the retraction, this may be enough to create a doubt with regard to this element of the case. As we said previously, if there is a reasonable doubt in regard to one element, the whole case will fail.
We have helped cases where the defendant claimed never to have driven the vehicle in question & disputed even that he was the driver stopped. A third party had given his details instead of their own!! If the police fail to satisfactorily verify the identity of the driver when stopped, they run the very real risk that the person isn’t who they claim to be.
Basic argument – It wasn’t me driving at the time of the alleged speeding offence.
In other cases, people have tried to argue that they weren’t driving when they were pushing the vehicle, but this argument isn’t very strong. It is about control and motion. If the car is moving and you have control over it you will more than likely be considered to be driving it!
- It wasn't a motor vehicle.
This is often a difficult argument to win with speeding offences because anything that will go fast enough to exceed the speed limit is likely to be considered to be a motor vehicle….. having said that, it can still be possible.
- It wasn't a public road or public place.
In relation to speeding, this is another difficult area, as there is unlikely to be a speed limit in force. Any place or road to which there is unrestricted public access is regarded as a public place & the road traffic laws will apply. The car parks of supermarkets are usually always regarded as public places.
- I wasn't speeding.
For speeding allegations this is the most common defence.
In order to win, you need to cast a doubt. If a police officer formed an opinion that you were speeding and has a reading from a Prolaser or LTI 20/20, then if your only defence is “The officer is wrong – I wasn’t speeding” you will be convicted. It required more than that.
You need to demonstrate that either the officer didn’t use the device correctly, or that the device was not functioning correctly.
Denying the offence is not a defence!
Speed detection devices are generally very accurate and reliable, but in order to be used as evidence in court they must be used in accordance with Home Office Approval. In order to be granted Home Office Approval, the devices are thoroughly tested by ACPO TET (The Association of Chief Police officers Scientific Branch)
ACPO TET specify the test conditions under which the device was found to be reliable, so if the police haven’t stuck to using it in that way, it will be deemed to be being used outside of Home Office Approval, which would make the evidence provided by the device inadmissible.
Important Points to Check
- Confirm calibration certificates (each device should be calibrated annually).
- Confirm the officer carried out pre and post tour of duty device calibration checks.
- Confirm the officer used the device within the ability range of that specific device
- Confirm the secondary check if a GATSO was used- the white lines painted on the road are a secondary check and should always provide a reading within 10% of the primary check, if it does not then the GATSO is not reliable.
The CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) and Magistrates tend to have very little patience with defendants who attempt to raise these arguments if they have no real foundation. It is very important that you make sure that you know exactly what you are doing before you start so that you don’t look foolish.
Please bear in mind, that if you have a trial in order to fight the allegations, if you lose you will receive a heavier sentence and hefty court costs as well as being fined for the offence!
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A new client came to us after being banned by the Magistrates for 6 months. He had accumulated 12 points within 3 years and the Magistrates court banned him for 6 months. The client tried to argue exceptional hardship on his own and the court rejected his argument.
Our client instructed us to represent him at court when he was charged with overloading a hired minibus. He had hired the minibus as he had his extended family visiting for a holiday. At the same time builders were refurbishing his house and asked him if he could help them collect some extra sand and cement. Our client agreed and they went with him to the DIY shop to collect the materials.
Our client was stopped on the way back home for overloading. He was devasted by the charge and the subsequent court proceedings, due to the fact that it was an innocent mistake and he was in the process of applying for an indefinite leave to remain in the UK visa.
He approached many so called motoring lawyers before us who told him to plead guilty and take the fine and points. We acted on his behalf and made a special reasons argument and also an argument under s.48 RTOA 88. The court agreed not to give any points and to impose an absolute discharge meaning that the conviction was imediately spent.
At Patterson Law we think outside of the box and we go the extra mile to try and achieve the results you need. Contact us now on 01626 359800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you want lawyers who represent an island of excellence in a sea of mediocrity!
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