If you are caught speeding, you could be issued with a speeding ticket cost of up to £100 for a fixed penalty. If the case is referred to court, the maximum fine is £1,000. However, if you were caught speeding on the motorway, the maximum penalty is £2,500.
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Have you been caught speeding?
Any person charged with speeding has the right to check the evidence against them.
Speeding offence begin in one of two ways;
1. You were stopped by the police
In this situation you may have received a fixed penalty (sometimes referred to as a speeding ticket), or told that you would be reported to court for a summons. You may also have received a ‘producer’ requiring you to produce your licence and insurance documents at the police station within 7 days.
2. You were not stopped by the police
For instance, if you were photographed by a speeding camera. In this situation you will have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) through the post. This will also be accompanied by a ‘s.172 notice’ requiring you to identify the driver.
Speeding is a common driving offence but it is vital that you take the correct action to try and avoid a conviction for speeding.
Speeding will result in 3-6 penalty points and a fine up to £1000. Depending on the speed, the court may impose an immediate driving ban. It you ‘tot-up’ to 12 points within any three year period then you will be subject to a minimum 6 month ‘totting-up’ ban unless the court can be convinced that ‘exceptional hardship’ would arise.
How to contest a speeding ticket
Speeding is a common driving offence but it is vital that you take the correct action to try and avoid a conviction for speeding. Click the button below to get the expert advice of one of our experienced speeding solicitors.
It is possible to fight a speeding ticket, should you receive one, and there are a few common defences:
Conviction by one officer
The law is clear: you should not be convicted of speeding based on the evidence of one police officer alone, no matter how experienced the officer (s.89(2) Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984). These days, speeding offences are usually detected by ‘camera enforcement officers’ or ‘speed reduction officers’, who are not actually police officers.
A speed camera must be used to corroborate the opinion of the officer – and this is why the accuracy of the speed camera is vitally important. Although the police will never accept that a speed camera can give a wrong reading, manufacturers often accept that the speed recorded may not be 100% accurate! Even the Crown Prosecution Service allows a margin of error.
Photograph as evidence
Many motorists are caught by speed camera vans parked at the side of roads. Such vans utilise a laser gun linked to a video recorder. If you have been sent a photo of your car with a speed reading printed onto it, do not be misled into thinking this proves an offence; it does not. In law, a photograph cannot prove the speed of a vehicle, even if speed data has been printed onto it.
Officer’s speed gun
It is also worth checking whether the officer was using a Home Office approved device and that it has been calibrated. This includes checking:
- The alignment of the red dot in the sighting scope to the laser beam
- The alignment of the laser beam to the cross hairs shown on the video
- A distance check
- A speed check
- Timing accuracy
- Video connection
- Dates of calibration
Other factors that can affect the reliability of the laser include:
- The slip effect
- The shake effect
- Beam spread
- Double reflection
- The diffraction effect, etc.
Accuracy of a speed camera
If you were caught by an unmanned static speed device, such as the notorious ‘Gatso’ camera, the accuracy of the device can be challenged in numerous ways. As there was no officer detecting an offence as it happened, the prosecution will rely on a ‘viewing officer’ to assess the photo evidence and decide whether the speed is accurate.
As for accuracy, the manufacturer of the Gatso device admits that it can over estimate speed by up to 2mph. The guidance issued to the prosecution service is that a motorist should not be prosecuted unless the alleged speed is 10% + 2 mph above the speed limit, which equates to 35mph on a 30mph road, 46mph on a 40mph road, etc.
Number of forms of evidence
With all unmanned speed cameras there should be two forms of evidence in order to convict a motorist, known as primary and secondary. The radar will record the speed and therefore provides the primary evidence, assuming if the device has been calibrated and set up accurately. A ‘viewing officer’ should then assess the accuracy of the photographs (at least two are needed) and provide the secondary evidence.
Due to the many thousands of alleged offences detected every week, it is questionable whether the viewing officer actually views every image. In reality, these prosecutions are automated (you may have noticed a bar code on your Notice of Intended Prosecution letter) and the accuracy of the speed is not checked until a prosecution is being defended.
Accuracy of photographic evidence
It is vital that every photograph from a speed camera is carefully inspected. The accuracy of the speed can only be determined by assessing the distance travelled over a set time, and this is why at least two photographs are needed. With a Gatso device, the two photos will be taken a half second apart and the white lines painted on the road surface will show distance. The problem for the prosecution is that the space between each white line is usually 2 metres. As the vehicles tyres are usually in between the white lines, it is almost impossible to accurately measure the distance travelled. In some cases, the white lines cannot clearly be seen.
Even if the police provide clear photographs to you showing the white lines, remember that the photographs do not prove the speed. The viewing officer should have assessed the accuracy and provided a witness statement or certificate confirming accuracy. Even then, we would always recommend challenging the assessment and opinion of the officer, as these statements and certificates are often mass produced templates.