The Procedure and the Law
If you are caught exceeding the speed limit you are committing an offence for which you may be prosecuted.
The Association of Police Officers has however, issued guidance to police forces regarding the exercise of a tolerance level.
Enforcement proceedings will not normally be taken where the recorded speed does not exceed the speed limit by more than 10% plus a further 2 miles per hour.
For example in a 40mph zone a prosecution is unlikely where your recorded speed is less than 46mph.
Speed Awareness Course (‘a course’)
Should your recorded speed be in excess of the tolerance threshold explained above, you may be offered the opportunity to attend a course.
One criterion for eligibility for a course is that your recorded speed did not exceed the speed limit by more than 10% plus 9mph.
For example, in a 40mph zone you could be eligible for a course up to a speed of 53mph.
A course normally takes the form of a classroom session lasting half a day and for which you will have to pay between £80 and £120.00.
Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)
The police can issue a FPN if someone has been caught speeding in addition to penalty points.
If Court proceedings are instigated, Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 provides that in order for a person to be convicted of an offence of speeding:
The person must have been warned at the time of the offence about the possibility of prosecution;
The registered keeper must have been sent a notice within 14 days of the offence notifying them of the possibility of prosecution, or
The person must have been served a court summons within 14 days of the offence.
Possible defences to the charge include:
- Factual – you were not speeding;
- Signage – the speed limit was not identifiable;
- Speed detection devices – which may not have been approved or operating correctly;
- the notice of intended prosecution has not been served correctly.
If you have pleaded guilty or been found guilty after trial at Court, the maximum sentence for speeding is a fine of £1,000 (£2,500, if on a motorway), the incurrence of between 3 and 6 penalty points or disqualification from driving.
The Magistrates will be guided by the Sentencing Guidelines which set out both the fine and number of penalty points.
In all cases, the Magistrates have discretion not to endorse penalty points for the offence if they are satisfied there were special reasons for it being committed e.g it was an emergency.
If you are not eligible for a course, the police also have the discretion to offer a FPN, which normally also includes an endorsement of 3 penalty points on your licence and a £100 fine.
You do not have to accept a FPN and you can request a Court hearing, should you so elect if, for example, you do not accept you have committed the offence.
However, it is important to note that if the court does not accept your argument and decides to impose a penalty, it will normally be more severe than the consequences of accepting a FPN.
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