06 December 2017
Contesting a speeding ticket
It’s no secret that driving above the permitted speed limit is illegal. However, did you know that speeding offences are the most common road traffic offences? In fact, over 2.25 million speeding tickets were issued by UK police in 2016, with some speeds exceeding an alarming 150mph. What’s more, government research released in 2017 revealed that 80 per cent of drivers knowingly ignore 20mph speed limits, while one in 10 motorists exceed the limit by at least 10mph when driving on the motorway.
If you’re caught driving above the speed limit, you could receive a speeding ticket. However, you have the right to contest it and the allegation being made against you.
To find out more about speeding tickets, what to do if you’re caught driving above the speed limit and your right to contest your penalty in court, keep reading.
What happens if I’m caught speeding?
If you are caught speeding, it’s most likely you will receive some form of penalty. This could be anything from being asked to complete a speed awareness course, a three penalty point endorsement, to receiving six points or to being disqualified from driving altogether for a period that the court sees fit.
For the majority of cases, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) is issued. This consists of a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points on your licence. If 12 or more points are accumulated within a three year period the statutory minimum six month disqualification applies, unless the court can be persuaded that exceptional hardship will be caused to the individual or to others as a result.
The punishment you receive will depend on the situation, but it is mainly based on the extent to which you have exceeded the speed limit. For example, if you were driving at 35mph in a 30mph zone, it’s unlikely you’ll be disqualified from driving, unless you are a repeat offender and already have a substantial number of points on your licence. Generally speaking, you can expect an instant driving ban if you are caught driving at 45-50 per cent above the permitted speed limit.
I’m a new driver - what happens if I’m caught speeding?
If you’re a new driver, the penalty point threshold is lower. If you’re still within two years of passing your driving test and you accumulate six or more penalty points, you will have your licence taken off you. To get your licence back, you must re-apply for a provisional driving licence, and you will also need to take your written theory test and practical driving test again.
How do I respond to a speeding ticket?
If you’re caught speeding, the person who owns the vehicle will receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) by post within 14 days of the offence. This includes the details of the offence, such as the location where it took place, as well as the time and date. It will also state the speed at which you were travelling. The NIP is accompanied by a document known as a Section 172 notice. It’s important to note that typing mistakes that may appear on this document, such as a misspelt name or incorrect date of birth, cannot be used when disputing a speeding ticket.
Even if you do not agree with the offence detailed in the NIP, you must fill out the Section 172 notice. This must be done within 28 days of receiving it, and you must declare who was the driver of the vehicle when the offence occurred. If you cannot provide these details, you must give as much information as you can concerning all the potential drivers, including full names, addresses, dates of birth and driving licence numbers.
If you are stopped by an officer, you may receive a verbal warning of prosecution or they may inform you of prosecution. If the offence occurred as part of a road traffic accident, a NIP is not required.
After the NIP has been posted back, you will receive a FPN. This is a conditional offer and you can choose whether to accept the ticket and pay the penalty or, if you do not accept it, you have the right to dispute it in court.
What happens if I don’t agree with the ticket I have received?
If you do not agree with the speeding offence, you are entitled to contest it. There are a number of reasons why you might choose to do this. For example, you may want to challenge the speeding ticket if you, the alleged offender, was not driving the car at the time. You may be able to dispute it if the car in question is a company-owned vehicle and you were not driving it. The offence may also be overturned if your car was stolen or there were incorrect or missing speed limit signs.
You may be able to submit an informal appeal to your local police force. This should be in letter form and it should explain why you feel you should not have received the speeding ticket in the first place.
However, if informal appeals are not accepted by your local police, you can choose to take your case to court. To do this, you will need to fill out the corresponding section of your FPN.
How to contest a speeding ticket in the UK
There is a specific process you will need to follow if you wish to contest your speeding penalty.
- Complete a plea and mitigation form
Firstly, you will need to fill out a plea and mitigation form. You have two options. You can plead guilty with mitigating circumstances. If you choose this option and you are not facing a driving ban, you should be able to make your plea by post. In doing so, you will have the opportunity to explain why you were driving above the speed limit and give reasons as to why you believe this does not warrant the penalty you have received. The information you provide will be used in court, and it may convince the magistrate to reduce your punishment.
Alternatively, you can choose to plead not guilty. If you do this, a trial will be arranged and you will have the opportunity to call any witnesses at your court hearing.
- Request to see evidence relating to the offence
Ahead of your court hearing, you have the right to ask the police for evidence relating to the speeding offence, such as copies of photographs if your alleged offence was caught on a speed camera. This is useful for a number of reasons. For example, it could help if you’re unsure who was driving the vehicle at the time, or if you believe there’s been a mistake in identifying the car. If the offence was logged by a device such as radar gun or a police car speedometer, you may request a record of this evidence too.
- Attend your trial
During the trial, it must be proven that you were the driver of the vehicle when the offence allegedly happened and that you were driving above the speed limit at that particular time.
- Receive the verdict
If you are found not guilty, you will not be required to pay your speeding ticket fine, no points will be added to your licence and no further action will be taken.
However, if you are found guilty of the offence, it’s most likely you will receive a penalty. You could be fined up to £1,000, and this amount could be even more if you were driving in excess of the speed limit on a motorway.
You can also expect to have between three and six penalty points added to your licence. If you were driving more than 30mph over the permitted limit, you could even be disqualified altogether.
While it’s important to understand these steps, it’s worth seeking legal advice before you take your case to court.
How can I avoid getting a speeding ticket?
Getting a speeding ticket is an inconvenience we could all do without. So, if you’re keen to keep your licence clean and you want to avoid having to contest a speeding ticket or pay a fine, here are few tips and tricks you could keep in mind while you’re behind the wheel.
Brush up on your speed limits
To avoid landing yourself a speeding ticket, it could help to brush up on your knowledge of speed limits. In the UK, the national speed limit in built-up areas, such as housing developments, is often 30mph, but it can be 20mph in some places. Single carriageways have a speed limit of 60mph, while it is usually 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways, unless it is stated otherwise. For more information about speed limits, you could read up on your Highway Code.
Pay extra attention while you’re driving
It may seem obvious, but simply paying more attention while you’re driving could help keep your speed down while you’re behind the wheel and subsequently, help you avoid getting a ticket. By eliminating distractions, such as having the radio too loud, you’ll be able to focus more on your driving and the speed you’re travelling at.
Use a sat nav
Aside from helping you get to your destination with ease, sat navs can prove extremely useful in avoiding speeding tickets. Whether you use a sat nav device or an app on your phone, this technology has the ability to let you know when you go above the speed limit, encouraging you to slow down.
It’s possible to get sat nav devices that can advise when a speed camera is coming up. This gives you time to adjust your driving accordingly if your speed has gone over the imposed limit. This feature is useful as the police are not obliged to signpost speed cameras.
Recognise that speed limits are there for a reason
Did you know that speed is one of the most common factors in fatal road accidents? Aside from increasing your risk of getting a speeding ticket, driving above the permitted limit could have much more serious consequences. For example, a pedestrian is four times more likely to die if they are hit at 40mph than at 30mph. The speed limit is there for a reason, so it’s crucial that you pay attention to it for the sake of your own wellbeing and that of others.
Why choose Slater and Gordon?
If you have received a speeding ticket and you wish to contest it, Slater and Gordon Lawyers can help. This can often be a highly stressful and complicated process, so it’s important to consult an expert. We have considerable experience in defending a range of different speeding offence cases, and we can support you every step of the way.
Our team of specialist speeding offence solicitors have the expert knowledge and resources to review your case and create the best strategy possible. We will work closely with you to defend you against the alleged speeding offence or to secure a reduced punishment. Our solicitors are friendly yet professional in their approach, and you can trust us to handle you case with the utmost sensitivity.
We have a 93 per cent positive result rate in defending motoring offences, meaning that we are perfectly placed to assist you. Even if you have already accumulated penalty points on your licence and you face a driving ban, we will do everything we can to get you the result you want. We can provide you with the legal representation and support you need if you wish to take your case to court. Our experts will let you know how successful your case it likely to be, helping to manage your expectations.
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