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  • Namita Pawa

Spotlight on Driving: Speeding

Updated: 6 days ago

Speeding is an extremely common offence and so many people every year commit this offence. Being caught speeding – or driving over the speed limit – can be caught in a number of ways, which include being flashed by a speed camera, being stopped by the police following you, or by a speed gun.


Generally, before a speeding ticket is issued, a notice will be sent out to the address of the registered keeper of the vehicle to identify the name and details of the driver on the date of the speeding offence – this is known as a Section 172 Notice, as well as a Notice of Intended Prosecution.


It is crucial that form is completed on time (within 28 days) and returned telling the police who the driver was, as failure to do so can result in you being prosecuted, as the registered keeper of the vehicle, for not providing the information. Please contact us for more details about the implications of not providing this information.


Once the form is returned, the driver of the vehicle will either receive a Fixed Penalty Notice or a letter telling them to go to Court. In some circumstances, you can be offered the opportunity of attending a speed awareness course.


What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?


A Fixed Penalty Notice is a way for the police to deal with relatively minor offense administratively without you having to go to court. It is a conditional offer of penalty points and a fine if you accept guilt and you therefore avoid having to go to court.


If you challenge the offence then you will be able to plead not guilty and have an opportunity to go to Court to do this.


It is important to note that to be prosecuted for speeding, you do not need to have been aware of your error. It is simply enough for the prosecution to show that you were driving in excess of the legally permitted speed for the particular road at that time.


Does accepting a Fixed Penalty Notice result in a criminal conviction?


The short answer is no. The longer answer is that whilst speeding is a criminal offence, by accepting a FPN and on the basis that you comply with the requirements of payment on time, you avoid a formal criminal conviction on your record.


How many points will I get on my licence for speeding?


There are numerous different types of speeding offence, ranging from driving in excess of the statutory speed limit on a public road (SP30) or motorway (SP50), to driving over the speed limit for a specific type of vehicle such as goods carriers (SP10).


Each of these carry a possibility of between 3 and 6 penalty points per offence. The number of penalty points given to you will depend on how far above the speed limit you were driving, the location in which the speeding took place and the circumstances surrounding the speeding. For example, you may receive 3 points if you were going 26mph in a 20mph zone in a less busy area. However, you may receive 6 points if you are going 66mph in a 40mph zone on a busier road.


It is important to note that receiving 12 points or more within three years may result in you being disqualified from driving through the ‘totting up’ principle – literally adding together or multiple penalty points.


If you’re a newly qualified driver and receive 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, your licence will be automatically revoked. In order to get it back, you will have to pay for a new provisional licence and pass your theory and practical driving tests again.


How long will the penalty points stay on my licence?


The length of time depends on the precise offence but these can be either four years or 11 years and can apply from the date of the offence or the date of conviction. Speeding offences result in penalty points remaining endorsed on your licence for four years.


Will I be fined for speeding?


On top of points on your licence you are also likely to receive a fine when caught speeding.

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence. As with points, this will vary depending on the nature and seriousness of the offence.


How do I qualify for a Speed Awareness Course?


If you plead or are found guilty for a speeding offence, you may be offered a Speed Awareness Course. The course is generally offered to first time offenders and you will be required to pay for the course to avoid the penalty points and the fine. You can only take it once every three years but even then, in exceptional circumstances if you have previously taken it.


The course is essentially a driving lesson in a classroom. It aims to educate people of the dangers of speeding with an objective of preventing repeat offending. The course can also have benefits for insurance purposes if you have been convicted of speeding.


In order to be eligible for a speed awareness course, you will need to fit the following criteria:


  • It must be your first speeding offence in the last three years;

  • You must have been driving over 10% plus 2mph of the speed limit, but below 10% plus 9mph of the speed limit – or in other words:

    • 31 mph in a 20 mph area

    • 42 mph in a 30 mph area

    • 53 mph in a 40 mph area

    • 64 mph in a 50 mph area

    • 75 mph in a 60 mph area

    • 86 mph in a 70 mph area

  • You did not commit any other offence in the process of speeding.


Will I get disqualified from driving for speeding?


Although it is rare, it is possible that you could be disqualified from driving for speeding. This will be most likely where:


  • You were speeding over 100mph;

  • You were speeding 30mph over the speed limit; or

  • You have now received 12 or more points on your licence within three years.


If you are disqualified from driving for speeding, it can last between 7 and 56 days depending on the nature and seriousness of your case. For more serious speeding offences, the ban can increase up to 120 days.


Newly qualified drivers who receive 6 points within the first two years of passing their test will have their licence revoked entirely. This then requires a new provisional licence, and a retake of the theory and practical driving tests.


If you are at risk of disqualification either because of the speed you were driving, the circumstances or because of the number of points you already have, you are unlikely to be offered a Fixed Penalty Notice or a speed awareness and will instead will need to attend Court.


Are there any defences to speeding?


Speeding is often considered a ‘strict liability’ offence. This means that it does not matter whether you were aware that you were driving in excess of the speed limit or not. It simply matters that you were.

It is possible that a defence applies in your case, but these can often be technical and it is advisable to see legal assistance to explore your options.


The most common issues raised in speeding cases are ‘Special Reasons’. While not technically a defence to speeding as it involves admitting that you were driving over the speed limit, it may enable you to avoid points on your licence, get a disqualification reduced or avoid one altogether.

Special Reasons might apply if you can demonstrate that you were speeding due to an emergency, for example you had a passenger who urgently needed to get to hospital, or you were fleeing imminent danger. It can be complicated to establish special reasons, so obtaining legal advice is appropriate to establish the most effective way to run such arguments, if they apply.


Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.


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