Speeding Offences And Defences
A Complete Guide
How Long Do Excess Speed Points Stay On Your licence?
SP10, SP20, SP30, SP40 & SP50 Points remain on your licence for a period of 4 years from date of offence.
To convict you of speeding, the prosecution have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you;
- Were Driving
- A Motor Vehicle
- On a public road or in a public place
- At a speed exceeding the limit for the road
only then can you be found guilty of driving in excess of a speed restriction.
Penalties: How Many Points For Speeding?
Excess speed offences are outlined in Section 89 Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984. The police or the magistrates court will impose a fine and 3-6 penalty points on your licence, however, if your speeding offence involves excessive high speed then you can be given a discretionary driving ban.
The fixed penalty fine (FPN) is £100, however, fines for non fixed penalty offences can be up to £1000 for non motorway and up to £2500 for motorway offences. (Speed offence fines are means tested).
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 no speed limit signs on the road indicating restricted speed.
Section 81 – Where No Speed Limit Signs are in Place
This section of the road traffic act, states that any road can be restricted to a speed limit of 30 mph (even if there are no signs in place indicating the speed limit) if there is street lighting in place, consisting of lamps placed at a distance of no more than 200 yards apart.
So if you are on a road that has street lighting in place and those lamps are closer together than 200 yards, the road is automatically restricted to 30 mph regardless of the presence of specific signs.
If you receive a speeding summons NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution) advising that you are being prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit (speeding) but you are of the belief that there were not any specific 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 limit can only be enforced by signs indicating the speed limit.
The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2016 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 speed limit as well as within specific distances of any road junctions.
If the signs fail to comply with these directions, your alleged speeding offence would not be enforceable as it isn’t lawful.
See our Speeding Offence related FAQ’s for more information.
Free Speeding Conviction Advice – Penalty Points, Sentences & Penalties
Standard speed tickets carry 3 to 6 penalty points. If your driving offence involves a high speed, the court can use Section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act to impose a discretionary ban.
It is usual for Magistrates to impose a ban for speeding of up to 56 days, but, it is important to note, that Section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 clearly states that the period of any discretionary driving ban can be set for whatever period the Magistrate deems appropriate for your offence.
It is quite common for discretionary bans to be used as a short, sharp, shock strategy, especially for excess speed offences.
Defending Excess Speed Allegations
Allegations of driving too fast can be defended using either the defence that you were not driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence, or that the prosecution has put forward unreliable evidence. There are two additional theoretical 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 specific offence and whether any of these technical legal arguments can be raised to defend your alleged speed, then please contact us for further assistance.
Because it is up to the prosecution to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt with regard to your alleged offence, you need to cast a doubt in order to defend this road traffic allegation.
One common way used to defend allegations of driving above the limit is to demonstrate that for your particular offence, the speed detection device used (camera, hand held gun etc) 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 speeding 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 an approved speed detection device to corroborate his personal opinion.
**See speed camera section below**
Frequently Asked Speeding Questions:
Genuine Speeding Defences
To begin with, please understand this – you should never invent a defence in order to attempt to defend a speeding allegation – you either have a legitimate defence to defend your alleged excess speed offence or you don’t.
Should you be caught trying to mislead the police – by saying that you were not driving 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 relatively minor speeding ticket 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 driving licence.
Speeding Defence Myths & Untruths
The internet is full of sites promising quick fix solutions in relation to defending speed related allegations;
“We Guarantee to get you off speeding, 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 about loopholes to get away with speeding, if you set out to deceive the police in a road traffic matter like this, they will outwit you 90% of the time.
Forget about using such high risk “defences”. By the time you have heard about a particular one (that may have originally worked for the first few motorists that used it) the law will have closed the ‘loophole’ or at very least have found an ironclad way to mitigate it in court.
Speeding Defences You Can Use
It is up to the Prosecution to prove each of these elements beyond reasonable doubt; (Beyond reasonable doubt is normally assessed at 90-plus percent sure.)
- 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 of speeding, 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!!
Speeding Accusations: 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 driving 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 driving, but later discovered that they were not driving at the time of the alleged speeding 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 against you will fail.
We have helped speeding cases where the defendant claimed never to have driven the vehicle in question & disputed even that they were the driver when the vehicle was 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 driving 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 the driver!
It wasn’t a motor vehicle
This is often a difficult argument to use to defend speed related allegations 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 a possible defence.
It wasn’t a public road or public place
In relation to driving too fast, this is another difficult area, as there is unlikely to be a 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 driving too fast” you will be convicted. It requires more than that.
You need to demonstrate that either the police officer didn’t use the speeding detection device correctly, or that the speed detection device (SDD) 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 for Speeding Detection Device Evidence
- 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 speed camera 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 & antagonise the court.
Please bear in mind, that if you have a trial in order to fight excessive speed allegations, if you lose you will receive a heavier sentence and hefty court costs as well as getting a fine for the offence!
Common Types Of Speed Camera
The most common speed detection devices include laser guns, a VASCAR device housed inside a police car, which measure distance and time, to corroborate a ‘follow check’. A calibrated speedometer can also be used again by means of a ‘follow check’. GATSO cameras are static box camera at the side of the road which use radar to measure time against distance.
If you have been caught speeding by means of a static GATSO camera, the device will produce two photographs. These two photo’s are timed 0.5 seconds apart. The photo’s produced will therefore show the distance travelled in half a second.
White line markings in the road are spaced a set distance apart, so by counting the number of markings covered on the road it is possible to carry out a secondary speed check.
Home Office approval guidelines for GATSO cameras state that it has to be possible to carry out a secondary check.
If the road markings are worn, faint or missing it may well be possible to defend your speeding allegation on the grounds that the GATSO speed camera was not being used with the required Home Office approval.
If it’s possible to carry out a secondary check, the result must be within 10% of the initial camera evidence from the GATSO. If the difference is greater than 10% then it is usually possible to defend speeding allegations that come from GATSO cameras.
All UK speeding detection devices are subject to strict calibration requirements in order to be used within Home Office approval guidelines and for the evidence they provide to be treated as reliable.
You can get more information about Gatso cameras here
Read more about Truvelo speed cameras here
More about SPECS speed cameras can be found here
VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Camera and Recorder)
Find out all about VASCAR speed cameras and speed measuring devices… more
Pro Laser III
Read more Pro laser III information here
For more detailed information about LTI 20/20 hand held detectors, click here
Speed Camera Detection Devices
Speed camera detectors are legal in the UK and can aid you in avoiding being caught by a roadside camera for speeding. They operate by using GPS and/or radar or laser. The GPS tells you where the cameras are; the radar/laser is supposed to tell you if they are live and active.
The more sophisticated speed camera detector devices can identify both fixed and mobile cameras and then providing audio and visual band alerts to indicate an approaching camera.
The main problem with them however is that they are pre-programmed with the locations of the fixed cameras. Locations can obviously change. Whilst most devices come with free updates, you are usually required to plug the device into a computer on a regular basis.
If you don’t have the time or forget to do so it creates a weakness in the system and you may find your reliance on the device makes you less aware of the potential speed camera risks around you.
If the device is not 100% up to date, it may not detect an approaching camera. The devices also detect accident “hotspots”. These are anticipated locations where the police may carry out mobile speed enforcement to catch speeding motorists. It does not mean the police are always based at these locations.
Many camera detection devices however will signal an approaching hotspot and beep continuously and unnecessarily until you pass. This can become annoying, especially when you are on a long journey!
Are speed camera detectors a good idea? Providing you are conscious of the weaknesses with the device and this does not reduce your awareness of potential cameras on the road, then yes they can be helpful, but they certainly don’t provide a guarantee that you won’t get caught speeding and they don’t remove the need to pay attention and always try and keep within the legal limit.
Our advice is to pay attention at all times and keep a keen eye on street signage if you want the best chance of avoiding speeding tickets and a potential driving ban.
HELP WITH SPEEDING TICKETS
If you have recently received a Traffic / Speeding ticket, call us to discuss your alleged speeding offence circumstances and we will explain what your options are.
Exceeding the speed limit is very common, and we are here to help you.
Remember – the information on the NIP ticket itself is not the officer’s evidence. Speeding tickets are simply a fixed penalty offer to get the matter over and done with without having to attend court.
If you accept that you committed the speeding offence then you should probably take the fine. If you accept the speeding offence, you can only defend the matter if you can cast a doubt on the reliability of the police evidence. This means rejecting the fixed penalty offer and taking the case to court. If you are unable to defend the ticket in court you will pay a higher fine and court costs for not having taken the fixed penalty offer.
How to Contest Speeding Tickets
If you deny the speeding offence and you are confident that you can cast a doubt on the police evidence then you should reject the fixed penalty and ask for a court hearing. It’s only when you get to court and plead not guilty to the offence that you will get to see the police evidence in full.
The crown prosecution service will not entertain a “fishing exercise” in relation to any speeding offences – so you have to be very clear as to the basis of your not guilty plea and you will often be required to serve a defence statement to get full disclosure.
**Please note that we will not encourage you to try and fight speeding tickets or fines simply for the sake of it. We will always advise you on whether or not you have a reasonable prospect of successfully defending the speeding offence by assessing your case first.**
If taking the fixed penalty offer is your best option then that is exactly the advice we will give you.
We win 94% of the cases we defend where we advise that there is a good defence….. we are very experienced speeding offence solicitors, we can help you……Have you been caught speeding? Please click here and Ask a FREE question without obligation.