Speeding fines: top tips on UK speeding tickets and how to appeal them

Here’s everything you need to know about getting caught speeding and potentially appealing the fines...

police speed gun

Whether you’ve received the dreaded 'notice of intended prosecution for a speeding offence’ in the post or been stopped by the police and given a speeding ticket on the spot, getting caught speeding can be a worrying and frustrating ordeal.

In most cases, there’s no wiggle room. The camera or police car will have collected enough viable evidence and your best course of action will be to hold hands up, pay the fine and move on.

There may have been circumstances that affected your ability to drive within the limit, however, such as being blinded by sunlight and unable to view your speed, or perhaps exceptional personal issues caused you to break the law. There is always the option to appeal the charge but be aware that it won’t be easy to have your fine overturned. You will need a very good excuse and you risk an even larger fine.

You might think that speeding fines and safety cameras are a moral outrage and the police have better things to do than catch drivers travelling a few miles per hour over the limit. But speed limits are there for a reason and if you were caught driving over the limit, in most cases you have to accept the punishment.

How much does a speeding ticket cost?

In April 2017, the sentencing structure for drivers prosecuted for speeding was changed, but the laws remained the same. The minimum penalty for speeding remains a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence.

Penalties at this level are often issued automatically, and you could be offered the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course. The cost will be similar to the fine, but you'll avoid having points added to your driving licence.

The maximum speeding fine that can be imposed by magistrates is £2,500 for speeding on the motorway, but as fines have to take account of personal means, you’d have to be driving very fast and be very rich to cop a punishment at that end of the scale. Of course, magistrates courts use their judgment on any offences in-between and issue speeding fines, licence points and driving bans accordingly.

If you’re a repeat offender, and build up 12 points or more during a three-year period, you are likely to face a period of disqualification from driving too.

Should I appeal my speeding ticket?

Contesting a speeding ticket is a risky business. If a court decides in favour of police or speed camera evidence, your small speeding penalty could turn into a bigger one! That’s why experts reckon less than one per cent of UK speeding tickets are contested, and only around half of those appeals are successful.

Most successful appeals are built around the technicalities of how and where a ticket was issued, although speed camera penalties can be dropped if a vehicle’s registered keeper responds to a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) by claiming they can’t remember who was driving. This is itself a risky claim, because if a magistrate’s court chooses not to believe it, they can fine the vehicle’s keeper up to £2,500 for failing to identify the culprit and issue a driving ban. 

Penalty points, police, speeding

Potential reasons for contesting a speeding ticket

A Notice of Intended Prosecution will be issued to the offender in the post automatically after you’ve been snapped by a speed camera. If you’ve been caught by a policeman operating a radar gun, the NIP may be verbal.

How long will a speeding fine take to arrive?

If a postal NIP is issued, it must be delivered to the registered keeper within 14 days of the alleged offence, and the keeper must respond within 28 days with the information requested – even if they are choosing to appeal.

Common legal defences for UK speeding fines 

  • The NIP has incorrect details about the nature, time, or location of the alleged offence. (Spelling mistakes or typos don’t count.)
  • The alleged speeder wasn’t driving when the offence took place – for a variety of reasons.
  • The road signage for speed limits was missing or incorrect.
  • The speed measuring equipment had not been calibrated or was being misused.

Contesting a speeding ticket – next steps

There are plenty of websites giving details of the technicalities that have been used to get speeding offence allegations dropped. Some even have an online calculator to tell you the likely size of a court fine for a given offence.

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First, you have to reply to your speeding ticket with a not guilty plea. This will result in you being summoned to a court hearing.

If you’re confident that you have valid grounds to contest your speeding ticket, if you are a diligent researcher and if you have the confidence and intelligence to put your case forward in a magistrate’s court, you may consider going it alone. You are perfectly within your rights to do so, and magistrates can be sympathetic to a well-considered and respectfully argued case from a member of the public.

Representing yourself is certainly cheaper than hiring a lawyer to contest a speeding ticket case. The magistrates, however, won’t take kindly to having their time wasted if you haven’t fully understood the law, or exactly what it is that you need to show in order to prove your innocence.

In most low-level cases, going to court over a speeding fine will put yourself at risk of receiving further fines. When the financial stakes are higher, or a driving ban is in the offing, seeking legal advice may be a sensible option.

Have you ever successfully appealed a speeding fine? Let us know in the comments section below...

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