Speeding fines - how much you now have to pay

Speeding fines - how much you now have to pay
More than 790,000 people were issued penalty notices for speeding in 2015 - but how much is a speeding fine and can the punishment be more severe than that?

Our guide outlines the varying degrees of punishments for different speeding offences and also looks at ways you can dispute your fine.

It is also worth noting that while many people are under the impression speeding laws changed in April 2017, this isn't true.

It is in fact only the sentencing structure for drivers prosecuted for speeding which has been revised, here's a graphic to show how sentencing has been changed and how that could affect you.

Guide contents:

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Speeding fines - what's the punishment?

The majority of people speeding will be classed as committing a 'minor offence' and will still receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of a £100 fine and three points on their licence.

You can usually avoid the points and opt for a speed awareness course instead, if it is either: your first speeding offence, or, if you haven't attended an awareness course within the last three years.

In some instances, however, the punishment can be more severe and you may be prosecuted in court leading to a significantly higher fine, more points on your licence or even a driving suspension or disqualification.

Whether or not you're prosecuted is down to the police officer's discretion. The police will usually only opt to prosecute if you are considered a 'serious offender' and have either severely exceeded the speed limit or have repeatedly committed the offence.

However, the fact remains that it is illegal to drive at 31mph in a 30mph zone. So, while it's unlikely you would ever get penalised for this - and even if you did you would most likely be offered a FPN - it is still technically possible to be prosecuted for this offence and sent to court, where you could face the new, higher, revised fines, outlined in the table below.

You will also find yourself in court to be sentenced if you are issued a FPN and ignore it, or if you choose to dispute the charge. 

If you are then found guilty in court, as of April 24 2017, your sentence will follow these guidelines: 

Legal speed limit (mph)Recorded speed (mph)Recorded speed (mph)Recorded speed (mph)
Band ABand BBand C
2021-3031-4041 and above
3031-4041-5051 and above
4041-5556-6566 and above
5051-6566-7576 and above
6061-8081-9091 and above
7071-9091-100101 and above
Points/ disqualification3 pointsDisqualify 7-28 days OR 4-6 pointsDisqualify 7-56 days OR 6 points
Fine50% of relevant weekly income*100% of relevant weekly income*150% of relevant weekly income*
*This is what you can expect but the magistrate can fine you anywhere within a range of 25% on either side of that figure, meaning serious offenders could face a fine of 175% their weekly income. This fine, however, is capped at £1,000, rising to £2,500 if you are caught on a motorway.

The pre-April 24 sentence structure only differs slightly.

The sentencing guideline pre April 24 meant that the most serious speeding offenders were only liable to face fines of a maximum of 100% of their weekly income instead of 150% but it was still capped at £1,000, rising to £2,500 if the driver is caught on a motorway, so the maximum available fines are still the same.

These tougher sentences were introduced as more of a deterent for serious speeders, and while the RAC welcomes the change, RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “With a significantly reduced number of dedicated roads policing officers you have to question whether increased fines alone will change the attitude of excessive speeders."

Am I allowed a 10% leeway of the speed limit?

In the eyes of the law, you’re liable for a speeding fine as soon as you exceed the limit. So if you’re doing 31mph in a 30 limit or 71mph on motorway, you’re breaking the law.

Guidance from the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) does recommend giving drivers a so-called ‘10% plus 2’ leeway, to aid police officers in using 'discretion', however, it is well worth remembering this is only a recommendation, not the law.

Most speed cameras have to be manually set to trigger at a speed, however, it is unconfirmed whether they are in fact set 10% above the limit. It's not worth gambling and assuming they give you 10% - never exceed the speed limit.

When you are caught speeding by a mobile camera, it is up to the police officer's discretion to penalise you if you are over the speed limit in any way, they can choose to take the NPCC's guidance, but do not have to, because - as stated above - 1 mile an hour over is still breaking the law. 

The best advice is to not speed full stop.

What happens when you get caught?

Caught speeding

This really depends on the severity of the speeding offence you have committed. The following sections outline what happens when you commit either a minor or a serious offence. 

Minor offences

If you think you have been flashed by a speed camera, you have to wait 14 days for it to be confirmed or not: that’s how long the police have to issue a ‘notice of intended prosecution’, or NIP.

It is sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle – worth bearing in mind if you drive a company car.

For minor offences, the police will often offer the chance to take a speed awareness course, instead of issuing fines and penalty points.

You have to pay for this – and it usually takes half a day – but it does help keep your licence clean.

Those who already have points are rarely offered this opportunity.

Serious offences

Speed awareness courses are rarely offered for more serious speeding offences. The minimum here is a £100 fine and three or six penalty points on your licence. The police give 28 days to nominate the driver and pay the penalty; points will then be issued against the driver’s licence.

If you don’t reply within 28 days, the matter can be referred to court. Very serious speeding offences are referred to court anyway, where the penalty could be as high as £1000 – or £2500 if you were caught on a motorway.

If you collect more than 12 points in any three year period, you face disqualification from driving; you can apply to have points removed after four years.

Disqualification from driving

If you've been caught speeding and it's referred to court, you could face an instant ban. Generally, magistrates will only consider imposing a ban if you've been caught at more than 45% over the speed limit. So, in a 30mph limit you'll need to be driving at more than 51mph, 66mph in a 40, 75mph in a 50, 85mph in a 60 and 100mph in a 70.

Bans generally range from 7 to 56 days depending on the seriousness of the offence. In extreme cases, they could be as long as 120 days, and you'll need to reapply for your licence once the ban is up. You may need to resit your driving test, or even take an extended driving test.

The court does have some discretion around driving bans. They'll take into account factors like the road conditions when you were caught speeding.

And you might also be shown some leniency if you were speeding for an emergency, or losing your licence could cost you your job. 

READ MORE: 10 driving offences you didn't know were illegal

How to dispute a speeding fine/ticket

How to dispute a speeding fine

Speeding fines are in place to protect all road users and disputing them is a task that shouldn't be undertaken if you think you may have broken the limit. Always obey traffic laws and never exceed the speed limit.

However, if you think you have been given a speeding ticket unfairly, you can appeal it by filling out the correct section on the Notice of Intended Prosecution within 28 days.

Consider carefully whether you have grounds for dispute beforehand though, because if the police do not accept your appeal, you will have to go to court to contest the conviction.

If this happens it’s best to seek professional legal advice, but you should also be prepared for - if it doesn’t go your way - the fact that you will probably end up with a much heavier fine than in the first instance.

Acceptable grounds for dispute

Some successful speeding fine appeals are on the ground of technicalities, such as missing or incorrect details provided on the NIP, or incorrect, absent or obscured road signs.

You can also appeal if you weren't the one driving, or you believe you weren't speeding and can prove it.

If the road signs were unclear, you will need to provide photographic evidence to prove that.

If you are confident you weren't speeding, the only way to prove your innocence will be to go to court. There you can ask for the relevant calibration certificate for the speed camera that caught you to be produced in court.

Unacceptable grounds for dispute

Prosecutors have heard every excuse under the sun for speeding. Excuses that won’t cut it include not being aware of the speed limit, saying the roads were quiet as it was late at night, or being in a rush and saying it was an emergency.

If you accept you were caught speeding, some of these ‘excuses’ could be used as mitigating factors, however, which could result in a more lenient penalty if you plead guilty in court.

How to send a mitigation letter

If you decide to dispute a speeding fine, the case will go be heard in magistrates court. Although you should consider attending in person (they might be more sympathetic if you show you’re remorseful and outline any mitigating factors), you can also argue your case by letter.

Be apologetic - admit you realise you made a mistake, but give the reasons for this. If you’re at risk of losing your licence (e.g. if you already have points on your licence), outline the consequences should this happen (such as losing your job).

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