There were 159,000 prosecutions for speeding offences in England and Wales last year; 25% more than the previous year. Either drivers in the UK are ignoring speed limits more often, or the methods of catching drivers breaking the rules are becoming more effective.
More than half of the drivers fined for speeding were caught on the motorway and mostly by cameras, as opposed to police cars. With some forces adopting a zero-tolerance approach to speeding offences, it could mean drivers being fined and having penalty points on their licence for driving at 32mph in a 30mph zone.
The only way to guarantee avoiding a conviction for speeding is not to drive above the posted speed limit. However, it can sometimes be difficult to know what the limit is on a stretch of road - because of poor signage or because the signs are obscured by trees or, ironically, other road signs. Variable limits on motorways can change quickly and catch out drivers, which is a common reason for speeding fines on motorways.
If you think you have a good case, make sure you take photographs of any obscured signs when you fill in the Section 172 notice within 28 days of the Notice of Intended Prosecution being issued. This is the document that tells you the police intend to fine you and put points on your licence.
Fill out the form and state you intend to contest the notice. If you were not driving the car at the time of the offence, you can also use this as a justifiable means to avoid the fine and points. However, you should reveal who was driving the car and be sure they were insured to do so, otherwise you could be in even more trouble for allowing them to drive your car without insurance.
You may also contest the speeding charge if you believe you were not speeding. Safety cameras have to be calibrated and you can ask for evidence of this to be provided. This will only work if you were a fraction above the speed limit, as most police forces allow a small margin of error - usually 10% of the limit plus 2mph.
If the police do not accept your appeal, you will have to go to court to contest the speeding conviction. For this, it’s best to seek professional legal advice. If you believe you were not speeding, you will need to prove this.
Many drivers choose to go to court as they believe they have mitigating circumstances, such as taking someone to hospital in an emergency. In this case, it’s best to plead guilty but ask the court to take into account the reason you were speeding.
In court, you can ask the prosecution to provide evidence of the speeding offence. Often mistakes are made in recording the offence or the vehicle has been wrongly identified, in which case you will not be prosecuted.
While there is a reasonable chance that contesting a speeding fine can result in it being quashed, there is also the risk of a magistrate imposing a larger fine and more points in a court. For this reason, be very sure of your case - and if you have been speeding, it’s better to simply accept the original fine and points.