A Complete Guide To Speeding In The UK
Exceptional Hardship Arguments in Driving Cases
Normally exceptional hardship arguments can be divided into emotional and financial hardship - for example, if the driver cares for relatives or needs to drive for their job.
However, enlisting the help of our experienced solicitors is recommended. We can draw together the necessary documentation and other evidence, as well as provide the legal advice needed to improve your chances of achieving a positive outcome.
To speak to one of our motoring law experts, call us on 0800 804 8159, or fill in the enquiry form at the top of this page and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
How to Build an Exceptional Hardship case
What we often find is that a successful exceptional hardship argument is built on good preparation and good presentation. All relevant information relating to your personal and professional circumstances should be put before the court in order to give you the best opportunity to save your licence.
That is why we will take a thorough and detailed statement from you, and assist you in gathering other material that will be used to support the arguments that will be put before the court. Our specialist barristers experience of dealing with exceptional hardship arguments will allow them to guide you through this process and extract information that you may not necessarily realise is helpful to your case.
The court more often than not is presented with arguments regarding the possibility of a person losing their job as the result of a disqualification. Although this is a perfectly valid argument, the court will sometimes need slightly more compelling and convincing arguments as to why they should not impose a disqualification. The impact your disqualification would have on an innocent party is a perfect example of this.
How we can help
Sometimes the consequences of a disqualification can be so extreme that the penalty is no longer proportionate to the offence. This is a conclusion that sometimes the court does not easily come to on its own. That is where we come in.
The court’s position will be that you find yourself in this situation due to committing a series of motoring offences in what they would regard as a relatively short period. With so many of us leading busy lives with too much to do and not enough time to do it, accumulating penalty points is easily done. Our job will be to convince the court to give you another chance.
If the court is persuaded not to disqualify you, the chance they will be giving you to continue to drive may be your last chance. The court will still endorse your licence with penalty points, which remain ‘live’ for the purposes of any future court proceedings for a period of three years. You would then be driving around with 12 or more penalty points until they expire.
If you successfully rely on an exceptional hardship and within three years find that you are facing another disqualification due to ‘totting up’ you will not be able to rely on the same set of facts that you relied upon on the previous occasion.
What Are The Penalties For Speeding?
Have you received a speeding summons NIP (notice of intended prosecution)? Are you are being prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit (speeding)?
Minor Speeding Offences – Usually dealt with via a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), 3 points & £100 fine or you may be offered a speed awareness course, or you can elect to defend the alleged offence in court.
Serious Speeding Offences – Normally defined as 20 mph or more over the speed limit. Usually leads to a Court summons & prosecution. Penalties in the range of 3 – 6 points or a discretionary disqualification of between 7-56 days and up to £1000 fine (up to £2500 for speeding on a motorway). Police are required to lodge the summons with the Court within 6 months, but this does not mean that if you don’t hear from them within six months that you have escaped prosecution.
Very Serious Speeding Offences – Usually regarded as 30 mph+ over the speed limit. Often result in a 7 – 56 day driving ban, or longer if the speed is ‘grossly in excess’ of the limit. In the most serious cases involving very high speeds you can receive a custodial sentence.
The full guidelines can be found here
Speed Awareness Courses
You may only attend one course in a 3 year period. The cost of attending these one day courses varies across the UK & may in some instances be more than the £100 fine you would receive for a fixed penalty notice.
A course allows you to avoid the penalty points and fine from the offence, however, some insurance companies will still increase your premiums if you have attended a course.
Are you a new driver? The rules on speeding for the first two years of driving are different.
The ‘probationary period’ for new drivers is the first two years that you are on the road.
If you accumulate 6 points then the DVLA will revoke your driving licence. In order to get it back you will need to take a complete re-test.
This new driver penalty is not a discretionary matter for the court. Pleading for leniency from the court is pointless.
If you are guilty of the offence, then magistrates have very little discretion about imposing points on your licence.
Once you have the points then the decision to revoke happens administratively at the DVLA as soon as they are notified of the points on your licence by the court.
This process is automatic and there is no means of affecting the outcome.
How To Check If You Have Been Caught Speeding – There are various bogus sites online, but none of them offer genuine information. You cannot check speeding offences online. You will either receive an NIP or not.
Are You Expecting A Speeding Ticket?
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. Furthermore, if your speeding offence involves excessive high speed then you can be given a discretionary ban
In relation to endorsable offences, whenever Magistrates have the power to give you penalty points, they can, (if they feel that the offence is serious enough) impose a discretionary disqualification (driving licence ban) instead of issuing penalty points.
The fixed penalty fine (FPN) is £100. It’s especially relevant however, to point out that fines for non fixed penalty offences can be up to;
- £1000 for non motorway
- £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.
The requirement is that street lighting must consist of lamps placed at a distance of no more than 200 yards apart.
Therefore, 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.
Have you received a speeding summons NIP (Notice of intended prosecution)? Are you are being prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit (speeding)?
If the police believe that you have commited certain road traffic offences, they must issue a Notice of Intended Prosecution ( NIP ). Common offences that require an NIP include; Speeding, careless and dangerous driving and traffic signal/sign offences.
If you have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) we know that you will be worried and you will want to check whether or not it is legally compliant with the requirements of Section 1 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. Under this section, certain road traffic offences require the service of a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days of the date of the alleged offence. When counting the 14 days you take off the day of the alleged offence, therefore counting the 14 days from the day after.
If you are of the belief that there were not any specific signs in place, then you should check the street lighting system that exists.
The limit is lawful because, the lamps are placed at no more than 200 yards apart.
Street Lighting & Speed Limits
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.
Additionally, it is a requirement that signs should be clearly visible at regular intervals during the enforced speed limit.
As well as also being 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.
Please contact us today without obligation.
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 ban.
It is not 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 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.
Do you have any questions with regard to your specific offence?
Find out whether any of these technical legal arguments can be raised to defend your alleged speed…contact us straight away.
It is up to the prosecution to have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt with regard to your alleged offence. Therefore, you need to cast a doubt in order to defend this road traffic allegation.
Questioning the Evidence Against You
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, who 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. This would mean 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.
How Long Do Speeding 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.
Genuine Speeding Defences
First of all, 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 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!!
Contact us today and we will put you in touch with a specialist public access barrister.
If you commit perjury by misleading the court then you may well go to prison. This would be a far worse proposition than potentially losing your driving licence.
Speeding Defence Myths & Untruths
The internet is full of quick fix solutions in relation to defending speed related allegations;
“We Guarantee to get you off speeding, for only £??” / “When you receive your Notice of intended prosecution use these letters and the police won’t issue a summons…”
We get calls everyday from people who have tried to beat the system. They do so 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. If you fail to prove that he was, they will prosecute you for permitting him to drive without insurance( 6 – 8 points).
Perverting The Course of Justice
It is possible if the police really disbelieve your story that they will investigate. To attempt 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.
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
- 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
- you were in a motor vehicle
- The offence occurred in a public place or on a public road
- The suggestion that you were exceeding the speed limit
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. We have had instances of clients who initially admitted that they were driving. Later they discovered that they were not driving at the time of the alleged speeding offence and therefore 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.
Specialist public access barristers have helped speeding cases where the defendant claimed never to have driven the vehicle in question. Additionally, they have 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 therefore is – “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.
This is 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.
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.
Contact us today and well help arange first class legal representation from a public access barrister.
Speed Detection devices are generally very accurate and reliable. But, 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), who specify the test conditions under which the device was found to be reliable.
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.
This would therefore, make the evidence provided by the device inadmissible.
Important Points to Confirm for Speeding Detection Device Evidence
- Calibration certificates (each device should be calibrated annually).
- That 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
- Request 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. Otherwise, you may 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!
Speed Camera Laws
Common Types Of UK 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. 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.
This would be 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.
It will be possible for a barrister to defend the speeding allegation if the difference between the two results is greater than 10%.
All UK speeding detection devices are subject to strict calibration requirements in order to be used within Home Office approval guidelines.
They need to meet these requirements 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
Find more about SPECS speed cameras 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
In Car Safety Camera Detection Devices
Camera detectors are legal in the UK and can aid you in avoiding being caught by a roadside camera for speeding.
Speed camera detectors use GPS and/or radar or laser to identify camera locations.
The GPS tells you where the cameras are; the radar/laser is supposed to tell you if they are live and active.
Sophisticated speed camera detector devices can identify both fixed and mobile cameras. They 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. With many devices, you are usually required to plug the device into a computer on a regular basis to receive free updates.
If you don’t have the time or forget to do so it creates a weakness in the system. You may find your reliance on the device makes you less aware of the potential speed camera risks around you.
Speed Camera Detector Updates
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. The police are not always based at these locations.
Many camera detection devices however will signal an approaching hotspot. They beep continuously and unnecessarily until you pass. This can become annoying, especially when you are on a long journey!
So, 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.
However, they certainly don’t provide a guarantee that you won’t get caught speeding. They don’t remove the need to pay attention and always try and keep within the legal limit.
HELP WITH SPEEDING TICKETS
Call us to discuss your alleged speeding offence circumstances if you have recently received a Traffic / Speeding ticket and we will explain what your options are.
We have access to the very best public access barristers who specialise in advising motorists in relation to all endorsable driving offences.
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.
You should probably take the fine if you accept that you committed the speeding offence.
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 therefore, rejecting the fixed penalty offer and taking the case to court.
You will however pay a higher fine and court costs if you are unable to defend the ticket in court. More than if you had 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.
Therefore, you have to be very clear as to the basis of your not guilty plea. You will often only get full disclosure after you have served a defence statement.
**Please note that a public access barrister will not encourage you to try and fight speeding tickets or fines simply for the sake of it. They will always advise you on whether or not you have a reasonable prospect of successfully defending the speeding offence by assessing your case first.**