Speeding offences and the law

There are various defences to speeding charges and it's important to understand the law before contesting a case.

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In 2017, according to the government's national statistics, there were 159,434 speeding charge fines in England and Wales,  while many others were summoned to court to answer speeding charges.

What are speeding offences?

If you are caught driving faster than the speed limit for your type of vehicle on a particular road, you will be charged with a speeding offence.

For cars, small vans and motorcycles, the speed limits are 30 miles per hour (mph) in built-up areas, 60mph on single carriageways, and 70mph on dual carriageways and motorways.

The speed limits are lower for vehicles towing caravans or trailers (50mph on single carriageways and 60mph on dual carriageways and motorways), and if you drive another type of vehicle, such as a motorhome, a bus, or a minibus, it is worth checking the government speed limits for your type of vehicle.

The police can notify drivers of speeding offences by sending details of the penalty through the post, or the case can be sent straight to court, meaning the driver receives a court summons.

What are the penalties for speeding offences?

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to the driver’s licence.
In cases that go to court, exceeding the speed limit is generally subject to fines up to a maximum of £1,000, unless the offence took place on a motorway, in which case the maximum is £2,500.
Again, in both cases, at least three points will be added to the driver’s licence if found guilty of speeding.
If the offence is particularly serious, such as in cases where the driver has been caught driving a long way over the speed limit, or if a prosecution means exceeding 11 penalty points within a period of three years, a disqualification could follow.
Drivers who are charged with a speeding offence within two years of passing their driving test will have their licence revoked if six or more penalty points are added to it.

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What are the defences to speeding charges?

Defences that can be argued in speeding cases, depending on the facts, include:

  • Factual defences, ie. arguing that the driver was not speeding.
  • Speed cameras, ie. a defence based on the functionality of the device.
  • Expired time limits, i.e. the notice of prosecution or summons were late.
  • Signage, ie. the speed limit was unclear or unidentifiable.

The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 states that the driver must be warned at the time of an offence about the possibility of prosecution, sent a notice within 14 days of the offence notifying them of the possibility, and if a court summons is issued this must be received within 13 days of the offence.

It needs to be proven that a driver (or the defendant) exceeded a speed limit to be convicted. But don’t assume that you don’t have a defence until you have spoken to a solicitor with experience of handling speeding cases. There may well be complexities in the case due to the evidence you present, or because of information provided by witnesses.

I’ve been given a speeding penalty that I want to dispute – what should I do?

If you have been sent a notice of intended prosecution, a response is required within 14 days – you may have to go to court if you ignore it.

Should you receive one, it is advisable to seek legal advice from solicitors with experience in successfully handling cases relating to speeding tickets and fines.

At First4Lawyers, our solicitors understand just how serious the repercussions of being issued with speeding fines can be, and know how best to address them. Our experience enables us to give you the best possible advice and assistance. Simply get in touch to see how we can help.

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