Whether you think speed cameras are a tool to inspire safer driving or only there to line the government’s pockets, they are here to stay.
If you don’t want to find yourself faced with a penalty notice, and the hefty speeding fine and penalty points on your licence that come with it, it’s worth understanding the consequences of getting caught speeding, how tickets are enforced and how you can appeal them if you think there’s been a mistake.
Exceeding the speed limit by too much is illegal. If you're caught by a speed camera or police officer, any of the following could happen:
If you are prosecuted, your fine and punishment will depend on how fast you were driving. You will be put into one of these bands:
Speed limit (mph)
Band A: recorded speed (mph)
Band B: recorded speed (mph)
Four to six*
Seven to 28 days*
25 - 75% of weekly income
75 - 125% of weekly income
*Drivers will receive penalty points or a disqualification.
Factors that can push you into bands D, E or F include prior convictions, offences committed while on bail, poor road and weather conditions, driving a large vehicle, towing a caravan or trailer, carrying passengers or a heavy load, driving for hire, evidence of unacceptable driving over the speed limit, location and if there was a high level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity.
The owner of the car will be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), detailing the offence. Plus, a document called a Section 172 notice.
Whether you agree with the NIP or not, within 28 days you must complete the Section 172 notice declaring who was driving the car at the time of the offence.
If you were stopped by a police officer, they can give you a verbal warning of prosecution and a NIP is not required if the offence was part of a road traffic accident.
Once the NIP is returned, you’ll receive a conditional offer of a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). You can either pay the fine and accept the penalty points, or contest the fine in court.
To uphold the fine, a court only needs to prove you were speeding. Saying that you did not intend to speed, didn’t realise you were speeding or you only exceeded the limit briefly won’t hold water.
If you have eight or more points on your licence, or you were driving way above the speed limit, the police may choose to prosecute you in court.
In this eventuality, you will be sent a court summons. The police has up to six months to issue it.
If you disagree with your speeding charge, you can contest it. A fine is unlikely to be overturned unless you can prove one of the following:
Some police forces accept informal appeals for speeding tickets. These should take the form of letters that detail why you believe you shouldn’t have received a speeding notice.
If your local police force does not accept informal appeals or your appeal was rejected, you can launch a formal appeal by requesting a court hearing. You can do this by completing the relevant part of your Fixed Penalty Notice.
It’s worth seeking legal advice before you embark on a court hearing, to find out if you're likely to win and the consequences of losing.
These are the steps you may need to go through.
If a legal expert thinks you stand a chance of overturning the ticket, then you’ll need to complete and return a plea and mitigation form.
You can either plead guilty with mitigating circumstances or not guilty.
Guilty with mitigating circumstances - If you aren’t facing a driving ban, you can usually plead guilty by post. In your statement of mitigation you’ll be able to outline why you were speeding and why this warrants a more lenient penalty.
This information will be presented in court and may persuade the magistrate to impose a lighter punishment.
Not guilty - At the speeding charge hearing you’ll plead not guilty. You’ll then be asked if you wish to call any witnesses and your case will be scheduled for a trial.
You or your legal representative will attend the trial to defend your plea.
Sometimes you’ll be given the option to move through the initial hearing process by post, in which case you won’t need to attend the hearing.
You can ask for the police and prosecutor’s evidence of the offence before the hearing. This can be helpful if you can’t remember who was driving, believe an error was made identifying the vehicle or you think a mistake was made when your speed was recorded.
You or your legal counsel can base your defence on these findings.
At the trial, the prosecution must prove you were the driver of the vehicle at the time the offence took place and your speed exceeded the limit for that stretch of road.
If you’re found guilty:
If you're found not guilty then no further action will be taken.
Speeding ticket enforcement in Scotland and Northern Ireland works in much the same way as it does in England and Wales, but there are some differences:
Since the UK left the EU, local authorities in the EU can no longer send fines to UK drivers who are caught by speed cameras on the continent.
This is due to the end of the Cross Border Enforcement directive, which was introduced in 2015 and allowed EU countries to impose driving penalties of cars registered in other EU nations.
The end of enforcement works both ways. UK authorities will also no longer be able to prosecute EU drivers once they’ve returned home.
If you’re caught speeding on the continent by the police, you can still be issued an on-the-spot fine (or worse, depending on the severity of the offence).
The easiest and safest way to avoid speeding fines is to obey the speed limit. But as cars get more powerful and the ride more stable, it can be easy to creep over the legal limit - especially on roads you are familiar with.
Dedicated sat navs, sat nav apps and some on-board car computers can alert you when you break the speed limit, prompting you to slow down and stay safe.
These same devices can also flag when you’re nearing a speed camera, giving you time to check your speed and ensure you aren’t fined. Having advance warning so you can check your speed hasn't crept over the limit is useful, as the authorities are under no obligation to signpost whether speed cameras are in operation on a road.
It's important that you buy a sat nav that's going to help support your driving. We've come across sat navs that give confusing directions and are difficult to follow, which makes driving stressful. Our expert tests reveal the .
If your car has cruise control, you can set it to a maintain a steady speed to help you stay within the legal limits. By setting your cruising speed to 70mph before hitting the motorway or 30 to 40mph for driving around town, you can maintain a steady speed without needing to constantly glance at your speedometer.
You can still accelerate past your limit if needs be, but once you stop the cruise control will adjust back to your set speed.