Speeding is a topic that is never far from drivers' minds.
Whether it's concerns about a limit being too high or too low, the technology used to enforce the law or whether punishments are fair, there is always plenty of interest and debate around it.
There is also a lot of confusion and inaccurate "advice " around about everything from police quotas to how much fines are and whether you can appeal against a speeding ticket.
With speeding the most common motoring offence in the country - around three million drivers currently have points on their licence for speeding - misunderstanding the law could be an expensive mistake, as well as a potentially dangerous one.
So, here we’re going to lay down the basics. Bear in mind, however, that the simplest way to avoid any such hardship is simply to stick to the speed limit.
How can you be caught speeding?
There are two main ways you’ll be caught breaking the speed limit. Either a police officer will observe you doing it or you’ll be caught by a speed camera. The camera could be a static location one, a mobile camera van or a series of average speed cameras.
If you’re stopped by a police officer they might issue you a verbal warning, a fixed penalty notice (FPN) or order you to go to court.
If you’re caught by a camera the registered keeper of the vehicle will be issued with notice of intended prosecution (NIP), along with a Section 172 notice, which requires you to tell the police who was driving the car at the time of the offence. Once you’ve returned that you will be issued with an FPN or summoned to court. If you don’t return it you could be taken to court.
This NIP must arrive with the registered keeper within 14 days of the offence or you many have grounds to appeal.
How much is a speeding fine?
Most cases of speeding are dealt with via FPN. This means you will be fined £100 (£60 in Northern Ireland) and have three penalty points added to your licence.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland if it is your first offence you may be offered a speed awareness course in place of the penalty points but you will have to pay the course fees which are usually around £100. These courses are run online or in person with a group of other drivers who have been caught speeding. Recently Home Secretary Suella Braverman caused controversy by reportedly trying to organise a one-to-one course after being caught speeding in summer 2022.
Although many drivers are offered the option of a speed awareness course, depending on the seriousness of the offence or other factors, including previous speeding convictions, you could be prosecuted in court rather than facing an FPN. If this is the case the maximum fine you will face is £1,000, rising to £2,500 if the offence is committed on a motorway.
In England and Wales, fines are calculated using a fixed “band” system. Under this you can be charged between 50 per cent and 150 per cent of your weekly wage depending on the severity of the crime. See our table below for a full breakdown.
You will also be given between three and six penalty points and, for Band B or C offences be automatically banned from driving for up to 56 days. In cases of “grossly” excessive speed longer sentences can also be considered.
As with the ban, the sentencing council allows for mitigating or aggravating factors to be considered, which could see the fine increased or decreased.
In Scotland, if you go to court there are no set fines for speeding offences. Instead, the sentence is largely down to the discretion of the judge. They will take certain factors into account when calculating the sentence, including the car’s speed, a driver’s prior convictions and their ability to pay a fine. As in the rest of the UK, the maximum fine is £1,000, rising to £2,500 for offences on a motorway.
In Northern Ireland, someone guilty of excess speed is liable to a fine of up to £1,000, discretionary disqualification and between three and six penalty points.
Will I be fined for being 1mph over the limit?
Probably not. Technically, 1mph over the limit is still breaking the law and you could be fined. However, due to concerns over inaccurate speedometers and equipment calibration the police tend to allow a discretionary “buffer”. This is usually given as 10 per cent of the speed limit plus 2mph.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council said enforcing a zero tolerance approach would not be “proportionate or achievable”. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be prosecuted for speeds below the “buffer” limit, so the best way to avoid being caught out is to stick to the limit.
Can I appeal a speeding ticket?
You can appeal against a speeding fine under certain circumstances:
- If you believe you weren’t speeding
- If you weren’t driving
- If the signage was unclear
- If the car was stolen
- If there is an error in the NIP - for example it isn’t your car
- If you do not receive the NIP within 14 days
However, in most of these cases you will have to go to court and prove you’re in the right. It is estimated that just 1% of speeding fines are challenged in court and only half of those appeals are successful. Bear in mind that if you contest a fine in court and lose, you could end up paying far more than the initial FPN, so it's best to be absolutely sure that you have solid groups to contest the ticket.
The 14-day rule is often cited as a means to avoid a fine but if the police can prove that under normal circumstances the NIP should have reached the registered keeper then your appeal is likely to fail. That means if you haven't updated your address with the DVLA, the notice goes to your employer or there are problems with the postal service, you'll still be liable for the fine.