Speeding Tickets and Fines Explained
Speeding tickets are a somewhat contentious issue, with some believing that their value to the welfare of society and safety of the roads is invaluable, whereas others contest that they are unreasonable, unjust and a poor reason for public money to be spent. People who are caught speeding can be subject to hefty fines and multiple points on their licence, and so it is important that drivers understand the consequences of breaking speeding laws.
The following article explains how speeding tickets are issued, when they can be appealed and what happens if the fines are not paid promptly.
When is a speeding ticket issued?
It is illegal to drive faster than the speed limit that is applied to the road on which the driver is travelling. Those who are caught driving too fast by the police or a speed camera can be subject to any of the following:
- A police officer can give the driver a verbal warning at the roadside
- The driver is asked to attend a speed awareness course. This course details the dangers of driving in excess of speed limits and serves to reiterate the importance of drivers observing the law
- The driver may be issued with a fixed penalty notice, otherwise known as a speeding ticket. This will mean that the driver has to pay a £100 fine and will receive three penalty points on their driving licence.
- The driver could be prosecuted for speeding following a court appearance. In this instance, a fine of up to £1,000 can be imposed, and this can be increased to up to £2,500 if the offence was whilst driving on the motorway. The court will also impose penalty points, usually three or six, to the driver's license
- In serious cases or for repeat offenders, a court hearing could result in a fine, penalty points and a driving ban being imposed.
The level of severity of the punishment given normally reflects the speed that the driver was caught driving at. The police are authorised to use their discretion when they decide how far over the speed limit warrants punishment. The police obtain the following guidance for this from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).
|Road Speed Limit||Minimum speed for a ticket to be issued||Minimum speed for a prosecution|
When a vehicle is caught speeding, a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) will be sent to the owner. Along with the NIP, the owner will receive a document that is referred to as a section 172 notice. Irrespective of whether the owner agrees or contests the NIP, they must complete the section 172 notice which will request confirmation of the driver of the car at the time of the speeding offence. This needs to be returned within 28 days.
Once the completed NIP is returned, a conditional offer of a fixed penalty notice (FPN) will be sent to the owner. They are then entitled to pay the fine and accept the penalty points or take their case to court to contest the fine and points.
Drivers who are prosecuted for speeding and who have eight or more penalty points on their licence, or those who were driving significantly faster than the speed limit may be required to attend court automatically. In these instances, the driver will be sent a court summons and the police are given up to 6 months to issue this summons.
How to contest a speeding ticket
If the recipient of a speeding ticket does not agree with the charge, they are entitled to contest it. Realistically, the fine is likely to stand unless the driver is able to prove one of the following:
- The driver was not speeding
- The ticket recipient was not driving at the time that the offence took place
- The driver can prove that no adequate or proper speed limit notice was in place for the area
- The vehicle that was caught speeding does not belong to the recipient of the speeding ticket
- The car was stolen at the time of the offence
Some police forces will allow recipients to make an informal appeal after they are issued with a speeding ticket. To do this, the driver will need to write to the relevant force to explain why they believe that the ticket is not applicable to them.
If the local police force does not accept the appeal, the recipient is entitled to escalate the case to a formal appeal through a request for a court hearing. The penalty notice will have a section that the driver can complete to request a hearing. A solicitor will offer advice regarding the strength of the driver's case and how appropriate it is for them to pursue a formal appeal through the court.
Contesting Speeding Tickets in Court
In order to make a formal appeal through a court, the recipient will likely need to complete the following steps:
1. Complete a plea and mitigation form. This form will be completed, ideally after a solicitor has confirmed that the defendant has a strong case. The pleas can either be not guilty or guilty with mitigating circumstances.
Drivers who are not likely to receive a driving ban are usually able to plead guilty by post. When doing so, a statement should be included which details why they were driving at excessive speed and why they believe a lenient penalty would be appropriate. The contents of the mitigation statement will be heard in court and could encourage the magistrate to impose a lighter punishment.
If the driver believes that they were not guilty of the offence, they will plead this at the speeding charge hearing. The court will ask for any witnesses, and a trial date will be set. At the trial, either the defendant or their legal representative will attend in order to defend the plea. The court will base their penalty decision on the evidence offered.
2. Request evidence that the offence was committed. The defendant is entitled to request evidence of the speeding offence from the police. This can be helpful for either side in demonstrating that the crime was committed and the severity of any dangers posed.
3. At the court trial, the prosecution will be responsible for proving that the defendant was the driver of the vehicle when the offence occurred and that their speed exceeded the limit for that road.
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