Being charged with speeding

Being charged with speeding

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Being charged with speeding

If you're caught driving over the speed limit on a UK road and you're stopped, you can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) (Punishments) if your speed was below the minimum speed for prosecution. If your speed was over the speed limit but low enough, you can, on a one-off basis, be offered the option of a speed awareness course. If you do take this option, you'll have to pay for the speed awareness course and attend it, but you won't need to pay the fixed penalty and you'll avoid getting any penalty points.

Procedure

There are 2 stages in being charged with speeding.

Stage 1

After the alleged speeding incident, the police will send you, as the registered keeper of the vehicle, a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). The NIP requires you to identify the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged incident, if this wasn't you. You should do this by completing and returning the Section 172 Notice or, in Northern Ireland Article 177 Notice, which is supplied with the NIP. Failure to do so is an offence which could result in penalties.

You'll then receive either a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty Notice (Punishments) (depending on the amount by which the speed limit was exceeded) or an order to appear in court (summons).

Stage 2

If you've received a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty Notice, you can accept the offer (along with 3 additional penalty points and a £100 fine) or reject it and be summonsed.

The police can also decide to prosecute you in court if you already have more than 8 points on your licence. In this case, you'll be sent a court summons. The police have up to 6 months from the date of the offence to start court proceedings.

Challenging a speeding charge

Acceptable defences to a speeding charge include:

  • You weren't speeding
  • It wasn't you driving
  • There wasn't proper notice of the speed limit
  • The vehicle caught on camera has been misidentified

You might need to get the following information from the police to help work out whether you have grounds to challenge the charge:

  • The photographic evidence on which the charge is based
  • Information on the specific type of device used (including make and model) to record the speed
  • A copy of the up-to-date certificate of calibration of the device used
  • Confirmation of the date of calibration and details of the method used

How to challenge a speeding charge

Step 1

When you receive the NIP, return the Section 172 Notice or Article 177 Notice within 28 days, identifying the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.

Step 2

If the police are going to send a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty, they'll normally do so shortly after receiving your Section 172 Notice or Article 177 Notice.

Conditional offers have no official system for appeals. However, some police forces do accept informal letters of appeal, especially if the ticket has been issued in error. If this is possible in your case, write to the address provided (check the individual police force's guidelines for details).

Step 3

If the force that issued the notice has no informal appeals option, or if it rejects your appeal, you'll have to either pay the fine or formally contest the speeding offence.

To do this, you'll need to request a court hearing by completing the relevant part of the FPN. Send this to the address on the 'Request court hearing' slip and you'll receive a summons.

Before you do this, you should seek legal advice to understand your chances of winning your case and the possible consequences of losing it.

How to contest a prosecution in court

Step 1

With your summons you'll receive a 'Plea and mitigation' form, which you must fill in and return before your court appearance. On this form you must give your plea and other information. You have 2 plea options:

  • Guilty with mitigating circumstances

If you don't face a possible ban from driving, you can usually plead guilty by sending the court a statement of mitigation. In this statement, you can set out the circumstances that caused you to exceed the speed limit and the reasons why you should not be punished severely. This information is presented to the court after a guilty plea and can persuade the magistrates to impose a lighter penalty.

  • Not guilty

At the initial hearing you'll need to make your not-guilty plea. The court will then ask whether you want to call any witnesses and relist your case for trial. You'll be told of a new hearing date that you (or your legal representative) must attend to set out your case in defence. As the initial hearing is brief, you don't necessarily need to attend and you can be given the option to move through this process by post.

Step 2

You can ask for the police's and prosecution's evidence of the speeding offence before the court hearing. This can be useful if you:

  • Can't remember who was driving
  • Believe that an error was made identifying your vehicle
  • Believe that mistakes may have been made in recording your speed

Step 3

At the trial, the prosecution must prove every element of the offence, including that:

  • You were the driver of the vehicle at the time and place in question
  • Your speed exceeded the set limit for that part of the road

Your defence should therefore also be based around these elements.

Step 4

If you're found guilty, there is a risk that the fine and penalty points will be more than those attached to the FPN.

Scotland and Northern Ireland

Scotland and Northern Ireland operate similar schemes for speed limit enforcement to the rest of the UK.