Most speeding offences are committed by normally law-abiding people who have broken the law by driving slightly above the speed limit. Indeed, speeding is by the far the most common offence in the UK, with government figures showing that in 2017:
- 48% of cars exceeded the motorway speed limit
- 52% of cars exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads
- 86% of cars and motorbikes exceeded the speed limit on 20mph roads
- A much lower 9% of cars broke the speed limit on national speed limit single carriageways
Although the vast majority of speeding offences are not serious and do not result in accidents, it’s important to remember that the punishment for even the most minor speeding offence is a £100 fine and three penalty points on your driving licence. In order to avoid points, it may be possible to attend a speed awareness course if you meet certain criteria in terms of the offence being a minor one and the length of time since you were last issued with a speeding fine or other motoring penalty. The rules on this vary from area to area across the UK, but usually you will only be eligible if you have not attended a similar course within a three-year period.
Penalties for speeding offences vary according to your previous record and the seriousness of the alleged offence. In many circumstances, it’s essential to take expert legal advice if you have been accused of speeding. At Purcell Parker, our highly experienced speeding solicitors have a proven track record when it comes to defending clients in connection with all aspects of prosecutions for speeding.
Do I need a motoring solicitor if I am caught on camera?
Most speeding offenders are caught by speed cameras. Within 14 days of seeing the camera flash, you will receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and a Section 172 notice in the post. You then have 28 days in which to return the Section 172 notice, stating who was driving the car at the time. It’s important to remember that Section 172-related offences where individuals lie about who was driving at the time in order to avoid points can result in further prosecution.
Next, you will be a sent a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a court summons, depending on the speed you were driving at and your previous record.
Motorists who have more than one driver insured on their vehicle may be unsure who was driving the car at the time of the incident, for example if a husband and wife were sharing the driving on a long journey, or if the vehicle belongs to a business. In these circumstances, it may be possible to request photographic evidence, although this may only confirm the car, not the driver. If you are genuinely unsure of who was driving at the time of the alleged speeding offence, the motoring offence solicitors at Purcell Parker can give you advice on the best course of action.
If you are caught speeding by the police in person, the police officer may issue a verbal NIP, otherwise you will receive it in the post. If you were driving only slightly over the speed limit, it’s possible you will be lucky enough to be sent on your way with a verbal warning.
It’s important to remember that failing to respond to the NIP in the 28-day time frame can result in 6 points on your licence and a fine of up to £1000, so simply ignoring the NIP will usually result in a harsher punishment than engaging with the process.
What happens when I get my Fixed Penalty Notice?
A Fixed Penalty Notice is an offer to resolve the speeding offence by paying a fine and receiving points on your licence. When you receive the FNP it’s up to you whether or not to accept its terms. In minor cases, where drivers have been fairly caught and are not facing severe consequences, by far the most common approach is to pay the fine and accept the points (or if appropriate attend a speed awareness course) and resolve to be more careful in future.
In certain circumstances, it will be appropriate to contest the FPN on the advice of an experienced speeding solicitor who will make recommendations based on your individual circumstances. This will be weighed up against the fact that a not-guilty plea always involves a court appearance and the risk of more severe consequences than you were originally facing if found guilty, including increased fines and penalty points and in some serious cases, a driving ban.
Some acceptable lines of defence for alleged speeding offences can include:
- You were not speeding
- It’s a case of misidentification where the vehicle caught speeding by a camera does not belong to you
- Proper notice of the speed limit was not displayed (although by law it only needs to be displayed where a speed limit changes on the same section of road)
- Your car was stolen and the offence was committed by the criminal
- Correct procedure was not followed in the issuing of your FPN
In circumstances where one or more of the above factors apply, the motoring offence solicitors at Purcell Parker can advise you on what to do next.
Speeding offence solicitors when you receive a court summons
If you receive a letter asking you to appear in court in relation to a speeding offence, this will be for a reason such as:
- The offence is deemed too serious to warrant a FPN
- You already have a certain amount of points on your driving licence showing you have a track record for speeding
- There were aggravating factors in place such as being over the legal limit for alcohol while speeding.
Certainly, if you have been accused of exceeding the speed limit by 45% or more, you are very likely to receive a court summons within 6 months of the alleged offence.
Due to this, it’s vital to talk to one of Purcell Parker’s motoring lawyers as soon as you receive a court summons. Being summoned to appear in court is never a pleasant experience, particularly when it is your first experience of being accused of an offence, so your solicitor will make sure you are kept up to date with all aspects of the process and are fully prepared for the court appearance itself.
Special reasons and exceptional hardship in speeding offence cases
In court, you can plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty.’ If appropriate, our motoring lawyers will advise on how you may have an opportunity to reduce your punishment by proving ‘special reasons’ that led you, a normally careful driver, to significantly break the speed limit. This could include a situation in which you drove at speed to evade a vehicle that was chasing you or to urgently get someone to a hospital. However, any defence of this kind must be proven to have been the only available course of action in hindsight, not just in the heat of the moment. For example, in circumstances where it would have been possible for an ambulance to arrive in the same timeframe to take a seriously ill person to hospital, special reasons may not be acceptable.
That said, even in situations where external events led you to speed but are not grounds for acquittal, making the court aware of the circumstances that led to the offence being committed may mean that they are willing to see your offence in its true context, with you acting in a manner that was out of character.
There may be grounds for an ‘exceptional hardship’ argument if losing your licence would result in the loss of your job or the loss of essential transportation for your family or someone with an illness, disability or special needs.
It’s crucial to discuss these or any other mitigating factors with your solicitor well in advance of your court appearance so that the unique details of your case can be sent in the form of a letter to the court to consider in advance of your appearance.
What penalties apply to my offence?
Again, although the vast majority of speeding penalties involve a FPN with a £100 fine and 3 points (or the option to attend a speed awareness course if applicable), there is no one-size-fits all approach to speeding penalties as the consequences will depend on both aggravating and mitigating factors. However, the revised, harsher penalties that were introduced in 2017 are divided into bands as follows:
Band A (1mph – 10mph over limit): 3 points and up to 50% of weekly income
Band B (11mph – 20mph over limit): 4-6 points and up to 100% of weekly income or 7-28 day disqualification
Band C (21mph and over): 6 points and up to 150% of weekly income or 7-56 days disqualification
In cases where a driver has built up 12 or more penalty points within three years, a driving ban can last 6 months. This rises to 12 months if you get a second disqualification within 2 years and goes up to 2 years if you get a third driving ban within 3 years. If you are facing what is known as a ‘totting up’ ban, our motoring solicitors can help.
What happens if I go on a speed awareness course?
A speed awareness course can be an excellent alternative to receiving points on your licence. The fact that it is only available to those who have committed a minor speeding offence and who have not been on a course for at least three years, shows that most people regard it as a preferable option to receiving points and a fine, even if the cost of the course is slightly more than the £100 fine.
Some insurers do increase premiums for those who attend speed awareness courses, however there is a definite consequence for accruing points on your licence. Also, you may find your insurer does not penalise you for taking advantage of an invitation to learn about how you can improve as a driver after committing a minor speeding offence.
It’s important to remember that it’s an offence to lie if your insurance company asks you if you have attended a speed awareness course.
Are the rules different for new drivers?
Yes. If you accrue six penalty points within two years of passing your driving test, your licence will be revoked. If you find yourself in this situation it’s vital to speak to the motoring solicitors at Purcell Parker as soon as possible.
What other costs are involved in my speeding case?
If you are issued a Band A FPN, the fine or fee for your speed awareness course will be your only financial penalty.
Legal aid is rarely available for speeding cases. Purcell Parker’s competitive fees for motoring cases are as follows:
Plea and sentence hearing – £595 plus VAT
Additional hearings (e.g. sentence) – £395 plus VAT
Half day trial – £1,500 plus VAT
Full day trial – £2,000 plus VAT
Expert speeding offence solicitors in Birmingham and beyond
To find out more about how our speeding lawyers can help you with your speeding fine or potential disqualification, please call us on 0121 236 9781 or fill in our contact form.