Speeding Offences & Penalties

Speeding Penalties & Offences: (Gatso, radar, laser and variable speed controls)

In Your Defence Ltd are frequently instructed by clients regarding speeding allegations. Often, clients will want to know whether the case that they are facing has been undertaken in a procedurally correct way, perhaps there is a ‘loophole’ or ‘technicality’. Our team has vast experience in reviewing the case to establish whether there are any such technicalities.

How do legal proceedings for speeding get started?

There are three ways the proceedings in your case are likely to start:

  1. You may be served with a written charge and requisition. These must be issued at the same time and together require you to appear before a magistrates’ court to answer the written charge.
  2. Alternatively, you may be served with a written charge and a single justice procedure notice. Again, these must be issued at the same time and on the court.
  3. Thirdly, a legal document called an information may be served on a magistrates’ court (this process is usually called ‘laying an information’). The court will then issue a summons (or an arrest warrant) requiring you to attend court.

A summons or requisition may be served on an individual by handing it to them or by leaving it at, or sending it by first class post to, an address where it is reasonably believed that they will receive it.

Single Justice Procedure

If you receive a single justice procedure notice, then you are required to serve on the magistrates’ court a written notification stating whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty to the charge. If you want to plead guilty then you also need to indicate whether you want to be dealt with according to the Single Justice procedure.

You should only select this procedure if you do not object to your case being dealt with by a single justice without having a hearing.  Contact In Your Defence Ltd before completing this form in order to be confident that you are making the best decision from the first stage of the proceedings.

 

Examples of possible defences:

  1. The notice of intended prosecution (‘NIP’) has not been sent within the correct timeframe.
  2. The necessary information has not been filed with the court within the statutory time period.
  3. There are material inaccuracies within the prosecution statement(s).
  4. The speed camera / detection device appears to have used in a procedurally incorrect way.
  5. Speed limit was not identifiable.
  6. There is the opinion of only one witness, uncorroborated by other evidence.
  7. We might also consider whether there were ‘special reasons’ for driving at excess speed.

 

Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)

The police must give notice of their intention to bring a prosecution against you before you are charged. This can be communicated verbally to you at the scene but you must have understood it. Otherwise it can be posted to you or served on you. If it is issued to you after the alleged speeding, it must be done within 14 days. If you do not receive it within 14 days, any prosecution may be considered invalid.

Service is deemed to have been completed if the NIP is sent by registered post or recorded delivery service or by first class post as is the norm these days. This is as long as it was sent so as to be delivered, in the ordinary course of post, within the 14 days. However, if it is delivered to your last known address and you do not receive it (even if it is not your current address) then the notice is still deemed served. Furthermore, if the failure to serve the notice as required is in any way due to your conduct then it will not be a bar to a conviction.

Because the question of service is a highly technical point, careful consideration is required of the evidence by our national team of experts.

Statutory Time Limit

Section 127 Magistrates' Court Act 1980 states that for all summary offences the information must be laid within six months of the commission of the offence, except where any other Act expressly provides otherwise. This is the same for cases started with a written charge and requisition. The relevant date for a requisition is when it is issued.

Therefore, time limits are of particular significance since substantial delay may occur for various reasons before the police or prosecution decide to institute proceedings.

There are some exceptions to this and it is best to check with our M23Law team to see if the specific offence you are charged with is a summary only offence to which this applies. In any event, no proceedings are to be brought more than three years after the alleged speeding offence.

Material Inaccuracies in the Prosecution Statements

As with any criminal proceedings, it is for the prosecution to prove that you are guilty of the alleged speeding. If there are significant inaccuracies in the prosecution evidence, then it may be that a tribunal cannot be sure about the allegation made against you. In Your Defence Ltd is best placed to review the evidence in your case to advise you on how strong the evidence is and the financial implications of your choices.

Incorrect Procedures

Most police forces have now introduced hand-held radar guns which also operate by way of a radar beam. They may be operated by a single police officer and the machine itself is capable of providing corroboration when required by law in a case. In a speeding case it is obligatory for the prosecution to specifically prove that the Secretary of State has approved the use of the radar gun in question before the measurement of speed given by it can be admitted in evidence.

Radar guns typically have a high standard of accuracy but there are at least five following ways the guns can give a false reading: due to low batteries, poor contact via the car lighter socket, interference such as radio interference, reflection of the beam off a metal object (such as a lamppost or post-box) on to some other moving object, or measurement of the speed of some other object in the wide beam.

Some police forces have equipped their traffic police vehicles with Vascar (visual average speed computer and recorder). Like radar meters, Vascar is technically extremely accurate. Unlike radar meters which record the vehicle’s speed in the fraction of a second it takes a vehicle to pass through the radar beam, the Vascar device records the speed as averaged by the vehicle over the distance recorded. However, like radar meters, it is usually extremely difficult to obtain a not guilty verdict on a charge of speeding on technical grounds where Vascar is used.

Unidentifiable Speed Limit

The specific defence available in respect of inadequate signage applies only where the road is not restricted due to the system of street lighting. The requirement is for the prosecution to produce evidence that demonstrates compliance with the relevant measures. However, in order to secure a conviction, there is no requirement that all the signage in the whole area to which a limit applies is compliant, as long as there is adequate compliant signage in the road leading up to the point of enforcement.

Uncorroborated evidence

If the speeding charge was brought through an eye-witness account, then there should be two or more witnesses provided that their observations occurred at the same time. One witness alone is generally not enough for a speeding conviction. Corroboration is usually provided nowadays by the speedometer of a police vehicle, radar equipment Vascar or by the speed testing device being used.

Factual evidence, however, does not require corroboration and therefore evidence of the speed recorded on the speedometer of a police car, driven at an even distance behind the driver’s car, has been held to be sufficient to sustain a conviction. The speedometer does not need to be tested and in the absence of evidence to the contrary, can be presumed. This also applies to radar guns, radar speed meters and other mechanical instruments. They should be in order at the material time.

Special Reasons/Defence of Necessity

The defence of necessity (or coercion or duress) is applicable to most road traffic offences. The defence is not limited to circumstances caused by deliberate threats from a third party but might include an eventuality such as natural disaster or illness. The defence is also available where the threatened danger is not to the driver but to another person, such as a passenger.

However, the defence is not available where the circumstances do not constrain the driver to act in a way that breaks the law. For example, in a case where a driver is speeding to take their child with a broken leg to hospital, the court may well accept that this was an emergency, but still not find it necessary to drive at an excessive speed to the hospital as the matter may not be life threatening. The case wins or falls on the court’s view of the facts and legal submissions.

 

Penalty:

Alternatively, clients may wish to plead guilty, with a view to mitigating any sentence to a minimum. This will be the case where disqualification is faced for travelling at a very high speed or under the penalty point procedures explained below. Our M23 Law Team call this a Damage Limitation Exercise (DLE). Please bear in mind that a discount is given for a timely (early) guilty plea normally starts with a 1/3 deduction if at the start of the matter.

If convicted of speeding, you will receive a fine, as well as a number of penalty points or disqualification period. If the offence was committed on a motorway, the maximum fine will be £2,500.00. Otherwise, the maximum fine is £1,000.00 or a percentage of your relevant weekly income.

The amount you are fined can vary depending on how serious the court deem your offence. This can be affected by the following examples: having recent relevant convictions, committing the offence whist you are on bail, having passengers with you in the car, the type of vehicle you are driving, the road conditions, how busy the road was, the time of day and location. Plus, the evidence of the length of time of the speeding.

If the court does not decide to disqualify then it must impose 3 - 6 points. If the court considers that your driving is grossly in excess of the speed limit the court can consider a disqualification in excess of 56 days. The decision on whether to impose penalty points (which can range from 3 to 6) or a disqualification period very much depends upon the circumstances of the particular case and on skilled advocates.

If you’re still within 2 years of passing your driving test, your driving licence may be revoked (withdrawn) if you build up 6 or more penalty points.

The term “totting” refers to when a person accrues 12 or more driving penalty points for motoring offences committed within 3 years. When this happens, they become liable to a 6-month disqualification (or longer in certain circumstances) under the penalty point disqualification procedures. To read more about “totting” and how In Your Defence Ltd can help read here: penalty point / totting

 

Speed Awareness Courses

The Speed Awareness Course is an alternative that drivers can choose instead of receiving fixed penalty points and a fine. The opportunity to choose to complete the course will not arise with every speeding offence and you will usually be notified by the police if you are eligible. The criteria for qualifying for a National Speed Awareness Course can vary between different police forces, however, the driver’s speeding usually needs to be within a pre-determined limit. In addition, you will not be offered a Speed Awareness Course if you have taken one in the last 3 years prior to your most recent speeding offence. You will be expected to pay for the course yourself and again the costs vary across England and Wales.

 

Don’t cut corners, contact our M23 Law Team at In Your Defence Ltd if you’re in trouble with the law.

A WORD FROM OUR CLIENTS

Twitter Updates

RT @InYourDefenceUK: We’ve been busy as #DefenceSolicitors on a case in a #SurreyPolice station this week.#SurreyDefenceLawyers#SussexDef 4 hours 31 min ago
Male milestones continued:#Males 4 times more likely to be banned for #DrinkDriving? 26 yrs is the peak age for… https://t.co/MPRuuZ18iW 3 days 4 hours ago
A few male milestones: Male #drivers are 23 times more likely to be #disqualified for #DangerousDriving?… https://t.co/INtQcSu3U5 3 days 5 hours ago