You may not be aware but currently under the law, you are liable the minute you exceed the speed limit and subject to the possibility of receiving a speeding ticket. If you are travelling at 31mph in a 30mph limit, 41mph in a 40 you are liable. Many experts have stated that with traffic enforcement this strict, it could force drivers to watch their speedos more intensely than the actual road they are travelling on.
We also need to understand that speedometers are not always as accurate as you would like them to be, even on new cars. Therefore if your speedometer’s calibration is incorrect, a driver could think they were doing 70mph, as the speedometer was recording this, but they could innocently be travelling at a higher speed.
To try to take a more practical approach, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is suggesting that police services do not prosecute until drivers exceed a margin of error of 10% of the speed limit. This effectively takes into account driver concentration and another 2mph for speedometer errors.
This should mean that most police services will not prosecute until you are driving at more than 46mph in a 40mph limit, for example, or 79mph in a 70mph limit. It is important to remember, that this is only guidance and any decision is at the discretion of the individual officers and police services.
There are various different ways in which you can be caught exceeding the speed limit;
- A speed camera.
- An average speed camera system
- Mobile speed camera vans
- Speed traps
There is still also the option of being stopped and spoken to by a police officer. If a police officer decides to take formal action the officer must have evidence of your speed to be able to prosecute. This can be obtained by using a hand-held speed gun, or through the use of a camera vehicle, like car or motorcycle. One thing to also be aware of, is that on a motorway, an officer does not need any extra evidence of speeding. The officer’s opinion under these conditions is enough to prosecute.
If your vehicle is caught on a speed camera, the police service concerned will make enquiries to obtain the address of the owner from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The registered owner of the vehicle will then be sent Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), where they will be requested to provide driver details in the post. The Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and the request to provide driver details are two different legal documents and should be treated as such, although in practice they usually appear on the same document. It is important to remember that if you are the owner of the vehicle, you will receive the document, even if you were not the person driving at the time.
If that is the case, you should complete that part of the Notice of Intended Prosecution. This allows you to notify the police of the name and address of the person who was driving at the time.
There have been times where people have decided foolishly to give incorrect or false details, but be aware that doing so falsely is an offence in itself, and can lead to a prosecution for failing to provide driver details, which carries a minimum six-point penalty or a disqualification from driving, or even worse a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice.
Once the driver has been established there are three options: an offer to attend a speed awareness course, a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), or a court summons, depending on your speed will be made. If you dispute that you were speeding, but admit being the driver, you should reply to the police admitting that you were driving. But please remember if the police offer a speed awareness course or a fixed penalty you should not accept. This will then trigger the police to send you a postal requisition, where you can take your case to the magistrate’s court to contest.
The rules are slightly different if you are caught by an officer in person. He or she will either issue you with a Fixed Penalty Notice, or advise you that you will receive a court summons, depending on the severity of your offence. Remember, you have 28 days to decide and it is your right not to accept the FPN. If you decide to reject this offer, again you will have to take your case to the magistrate’s court.
Today the Fixed Penalty Notice for speeding will result in three points on your driving licence and also a £100 fine. If your speed is especially high where a court appearance is required, or if you decide to reject the Fixed Penalty Notice, these penalties may be more severe. The maximum fine for speeding is £1,000, except on a motorway, where this is £2,500 and your licence could be revoked.
The new system appears to be more complicated. Below is a broad outline, starting with the three main ‘bands’ of speeding, which need to be understood and also a speed limit table.
This refers to the lowest level of speeding. For example, you could be driving at between 21mph and 30mph in a 20mph zone, 31mph to 40mph in a 30mph zone, or 71mph to 90mph on a 70mph road. You can expect three points on your licence, and a fine of around 50% of your weekly income.
This is for more serious cases of speeding. If you’re in a 20mph zone and you drive at 31mph to 40mph, or in a 40mph zone at 56mph to 65mph, or up to 100mph in a 70mph, that will be a Band B fine. That means four to six points on your licence, or disqualification for between seven and 28 days, plus a fine of 100% of your weekly income.
This is for the most egregious speeding. If you’re doing 41mph or above in a 20mph zone, 51mph or above in a 30mph zone, or above 100mph in a 70mph zone, that’s a Band C fine. That means six points on your licence or disqualification for between seven and 56 days, as well as a fine of 150% of your weekly income.
||Min speed for a speeding ticket
||Min speed for prosecution
It is important to understand that mitigating circumstances can always make a difference to the final penalty, things like a genuine emergency, a lack of previous relevant convictions and “good character”. Aggravating factors can have an impact such as previous convictions, speeding in bad weather, speeding in a lorry, bus or taxi, speeding while towing, speeding while driving for hire or reward, speeding with passengers, or speeding somewhere particularly inappropriate, like near a school or crowded shopping street.
You could also be offered a speed awareness course as an alternative to a FPN. Many police services now offer a speed awareness course. This course is designed to make people more aware of their speed and the consequences of their actions. It is delivered over one full day.
A Speed awareness course cannot be requested by a speeder. It is totally at the discretion of each individual police service. However, the reason that most people decide to attend one of these courses is because they will not get any points or a fine. Although this was designed to prevent points or fines being issued, some car insurers have now started asking whether you have attended a course, so that they can increase premiums.
The police cannot issue a FPN If you had nine or more active penalty points on your licence on the date that you were speeding. The case will have to go to court. All drivers who get twelve or more active penalty points are disqualified at court for at least six months. However you may be able to plead exceptional hardship.
My advice before deciding to reject an FPN and take a speeding offence to court would be to seek advice from a legal professional.
Procedures do need to be correct for a prosecution to be successful and things that can prevent a successful prosecution are:
- The NIP must be served on the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days of the day following the offence and if it does not arrive within this time period, can be contested. However, the NIP only has to be served on the registered keeper within 14 days and there is no time limit for serving a request for driver details. If someone else names you as the driver, for example if you were driving a company car or a hire car, it is quite likely that the first notice will come more than 14 days after the offence.
- Convictions can be overturned by demonstrating that the equipment was not calibrated correctly. In fact, all speed-detecting equipment must have a calibration certificate valid for the day it is being used, and motorists accused of speeding are within their rights to request a copy of this certificate.
I hope this blog gives you a better insight into the latest legislation in force from today (24th April 2017)