Speeding is a perennial hot topic among motorists.
There is a lot of discussion about whether speed limits are fair, how they are enforced and whether speeding tickets and fines are proportionate.
As well as arguments about the fairness or otherwise of speeding penalties there is confusion about how and when you can be caught speeding and how much a speeding fine will be.
Here we’re going to lay down the basics but bear in mind, 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 you 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.
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.
However, 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 the 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?
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, and admitting that you were speeding but offering an excuse will virtually never work.