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Speeding offence solicitors
It may come as a shock to learn that nearly one million motorists are caught speeding each year. For many, being caught speeding can merely result in a fine and points on their driver’s licence, causing them to (hopefully) be more conscious of their speed in the future to avoid further penalty points. But, if you are already close to having 12 penalty points, further points being added because of speeding can result in a loss of licence. And this can have catastrophic consequences for you and your family.
Our criminal traffic department is one of the leading law firms in the North of England when it comes to private client speeding offences. Led by Phillip Goldberg, who is also our Managing Director, our solicitors have defended hundreds of speeding charges over the years. This has resulted in many of our clients being able to retain not only their driving licence but their ability to earn a living.
Minton Morrill is one of the only law firms in Leeds and the surrounding area to specialise in private client traffic offences. Therefore, our experience in this area is unmatched. In addition, Philip is responsible for managing our business, giving him a unique understanding of the commercial impact of losing one’s driving licence.
We provide clients with the peace of mind that they have expert speeding solicitors in charge of their case. Philip and his team understand traffic law, the defences available, the decision-making process of Magistrates and Judges and how the court system works. If you already have a number of penalty points on your licence, it is worth investing in quality legal representation to mitigate your chances of losing your ability to drive a vehicle.
In one case, we successfully defended and saved the career of a 17-year-old under 19 rugby league international. Unfortunately, just after passing his test, he received five speeding tickets in the space of five days. Our client was facing disqualification from driving for at least six months. This would have severely affected his development programme and compromised his promising career.
Working with the client, we developed a clear strategy for his defence. Tactical decisions were made, allowing us to arrange for the court hearing to coincide with the end of the season. After collating robust evidence, which included a detailed description of his training schedule, arguments were advanced which resulted in the client receiving a four-week disqualification.
The client was spared having his training schedule derailed as the disqualification period fell in the off-season, which meant he did not have to travel. In addition, as a probationary driving license holder his short disqualification period meant his license was not revoked; therefore he did not need to re-sit his driving test.
The basics of speeding offences
Speeding is by far the most common road traffic offence. Motorists are increasingly being caught out by fixed speed cameras or police speed traps. Travelling even at just a few miles per hour over the speed limit can result in a fine and points on your licence.
There is a great deal of myth and hearsay surrounding speeding offences and penalties. Most of your friends will have different answers to questions such as:
- “How fast do you need to be going to be given a Fixed-Penalty Notice?”
- “Can you talk your way out of a speeding offence?”
- “Will you be let off a speeding offence if you have a clean licence?”
- “How many points will you get on your licence for a speeding offence?”
- “How do speed cameras work?”
Strictly speaking, you commit a speeding offence as soon as you are driving faster than the designated speed for the road/area you are in. If you are on a motorway and travelling at 71mph, you have committed an offence.
However, this is not practical. For starters, speedometers aren’t always accurate; someone with a speedometer that’s gone out of calibration could innocently think they were doing 70mph when they were actually doing fractionally more. In addition, forcing drivers to place so much attention on their speed could run the risk of them failing to watch what is going on around them, leading to more avoidable accidents.
Therefore, in practice, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) recommends that police do not prosecute for speeding until the driver exceeds the designated speed limit by 10 percent.
The below table illustrates when a Fixed-Penalty Notice will be received and the minimum speed you need to be going over the limit for the police to prosecute you.
NPCC speed enforcement guidelines
Min speed for a ticket
Min speed for prosecution
Source: National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC)
It is imperative to remember that the NPCC recommendations are guidance only. If the police believe you should receive a fine or be prosecuted, they are entitled to do so, even if you are under the recommended speeding limits.
Ways you can be caught speeding
There are several different methods the police use to catch a speeding offender. They include:
They are usually hard to spot on the road, and this is deliberate. Discretely tucked away between trees or sitting on the side of roads, police officers use speed guns, or a camera car or bike to catch those driving over the speed limit.
A speed gun is a hand-held device that police officers aim at oncoming cars to get a read-out of their speed. Often there will be two police officers working a stretch of road; one will operate the speed-gun and will radio ahead to their colleague if they clock a speeding driver. They, in turn, will pull the driver over and issue a fixed -penalty notice or take more serious action.
Police officers can also pull drivers over who they believe are speeding. If you are driving on a British motorway, police officers require no extra evidence that you are speeding to be justified in pulling you over; their opinion is enough. If a police car is following you, in-car cameras can provide them with an accurate reading of your speed.
Speed cameras are the most common way motorists are caught speeding. It is easy to tell if you have been snapped – the speed camera will emit two bright flashes as you pass.
On large motorways, such as the M25, an average speed camera system is employed to control motorists’ speed. This uses a series of CCTV-style cameras, to record vehicle registrations as they pass by. From this information, the system can work out how fast you’ve been travelling between each camera; if your average speed between two cameras is above the threshold set for prosecution, you’ll receive a ticket.
Some areas have speed traps to monitor driver speed. Strips are laid out on the road to measure speed; these are connected to a portable camera, which will snap a picture of the vehicle if it crosses over the strip too quickly.
Smart motorways are sections of motorways in Britain that use technology to manage the flow of traffic at peak times.
Variable speed limits are used to regulate traffic and often the hard shoulder is opened to provide an extra lane. Traffic conditions are monitored using vehicle detection equipment installed in or adjacent to the motorway in specific, pre-planned places. The vehicle detection equipment is linked to a Motorway Incident Detection and Automatic Signalling (MIDAS) system which analyses the data and recognises two differing traffic conditions – queuing traffic or congestion.
Queue Protection and Congestion Monitoring algorithms within the MIDAS system recognise the two types of traffic conditions and automatically set appropriate signs and mandatory speed restrictions on signals to actively manage traffic conditions. Safety specific intervention is provided by the Queue Protection algorithm which protects the back of queueing traffic and congestion is managed by introducing reduced speed limits to increase traffic flow.
Although smart motorways may help ease the frustration of congestion, they are proving a headache for many motorists due to the increased likelihood of being caught speeding. More than £21 million worth of fines have been issued to drivers on smart motorways.
According to the AA, speed limits on smart motorways are often cut to 50 or 60mph for no apparent reason. This has resulted in large numbers of motorists being slapped with £100 fines and three penalty points being added to their licence.
Almost 240 miles of motorways in England now have variable limits of below 70mph to regulate traffic flows, with overhead gantry cameras used to police the system on parts of the M1, M4, M5, M6 and M25.
The process if you are caught speeding by a speed camera or on a smart motorway or in person
If a vehicle is captured speeding by a speed camera, the police will search for the owner of the vehicle using the registration plate number. If you are registered as the owner of the vehicle, the police will send you a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and demand that you provide driver details via post.
If you were not driving the vehicle when it was clocked going over the speed limit, you can write the name and address of the driver on the NIP. It is a criminal offence to falsely state that someone else was driving your car if it was caught speeding. You could be charged with perverting the course of justice, fined, and/or disqualified from driving or receive six penalty points or even face imprisonment. Even the best solicitors who defend charges of speeding would be unlikely to defend you successfully – the best advice is if you were the driver, fess-up. Please see our section on totting up for further information.
If you were the driver, depending on how fast you were going or whether you have eight or more points on your licence, the police will send you either a:
- a fixed-penalty notice
- an offer to attend a Speed Awareness Course
- a date to attend court
Drivers caught in person by a police officer will either receive a fixed-penalty notice or a court summons, depending on how fast they were going and whether they have eight or more penalty points on their licence.
Speed Awareness Courses
Many police forces offer a Speed Awareness Course in place of a fixed-penalty notice or penalty points. You will have to pay a fee to attend the course. If the police do not offer you a place, you cannot ask for one.
Even though you will not receive penalty points, your car insurance premium may still increase. Insurers have been known to ask drivers if they have attended a Speed Awareness Course and then increase their premiums in the same way they would if they have received penalty points.
Defending a charge of speeding
If you wish to defend a charge of speeding, you will need to instruct an experienced solicitor as soon as possible. You should not accept any fixed-penalty notice or offers to attend a speed awareness course.
There are several defences that may be available to successfully defend a speeding offence; your solicitor will go through them all in detail with you. Some examples include:
- you were not speeding
- you were not the person driving when the speeding happened
- the speed limit was not properly marked
- the wrong vehicle was caught by the speed camera
- the correct procedure when issuing the court summon or fixed-penalty notice was not followed
If you instruct our solicitors to represent you in defending your speeding charge, we will examine the following factors surrounding your speeding offence:
1. Did the police follow the correct procedure?
We will examine your case to see if the documents were served on time, the details are correct and if they contain any errors that, even if corrected, would be highly prejudicial to the case going forward. An example of this is if the NIP incorrectly states the location of the alleged speeding offence. In this type of case, we would argue that it is almost impossible to relate the alleged speeding incident to the NIP issued.
Small mistakes such as the mis-spelling of a word will not prevent prosecution. And if the officer told you at the scene no further action will be taken, and then you receive a NIP in the post, the officer was not in the wrong. The decision to prosecute is actually made by the police officer’s superior; the decision of the officer who alleged you were speeding is not binding.
2. Was the equipment used to clock your speed accurate?
If you believe the equipment used to measure your speed was defective, our speeding solicitors will gather the evidence required to prove your case. The onus will be on you to prove the equipment was faulty.
Philip and his team will request disclosure of all the documents required. The law assumes the equipment was working, as all speed equipment used by the police must be approved by the Home Office. This requires manufacturers to prove that the equipment is accurate and reliable before approval will be granted. They must also provide full guidance regarding training and maintenance of the equipment. If you wish to defend a charge of speeding on the grounds the equipment used was faulty, you can request the operator’s statement, the calibration certificate, and manufacturer’s guidelines to verify the speed alleged. Bear in mind that although this material can be requested, it will need to be interpreted and investigated by an expert. Our solicitors have the necessary contacts to arrange for an expert to examine the evidence and testify before the court.
3. Was there adequate notification of the speed limit in the area you were caught?
When it comes to driving in a 30 mph zone, the courts take the view that this is the known speed-limit in England in residential areas, therefore, people should drive in accordance with this assumption. If you are in doubt as to whether you are in a speed-restricted, you can measure the distance between lampposts. The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 says a road is restricted to 30mph “if there is provided on it a system of street lights not more than 200 yards apart.”
A defence against speeding may be available if a road with a 30 mph speeding restriction does not have street lighting or a sign indicating the speed is 30 mph.
The following conditions must be met for the signage to be classed as adequate.
- The signs must be erected and maintained in such a way to provide adequate guidance to motorists of the speed limit.
- The signs must indicate the speed limit giving sufficient time for a motorist to slow down.
- If the sign only becomes visible once it's passed because of overgrown hedges, the signs aren't sufficiently displayed, and this could be a defence.
- The signs must be repeated at regular intervals unless it is a restricted road or a motorway.
- The only signs that need to be lit are those signs at the beginning and end of the speed restricted road where there is an electrical street lamp within 50m.
- These signs should be illuminated during the hours of darkness or while the street lamps are lit. If these conditions are not met this may be a defence to speeding.
It is for the defendant to prove that the signs notifying the speed limit were inadequate.
A defence of inadequate signage is difficult to prove, as the courts may take the view that you should have appreciated you were travelling faster than the speed limit even if signs were not visible. By instructing our expert team of solicitors, you have a stronger chance of proving that the notification of the speed limit was inadequate. If you are at risk of losing your licence, it is imperative to have speeding solicitors who can access the required documents and consult with expert witnesses.
Pleading guilty with mitigating circumstances to a speeding offence
It may be that you were speeding, but you were facing what you believed to be an emergency which required you to exceed the limit in a restricted area. For example, if your passenger was in great pain or you were in a life-threatening situation.
Although you may feel you had a good reason for speeding, even in cases of a medical emergency, Magistrates rarely refrain from giving penalty points. At Minton Morrill, our speeding solicitors are experienced in persuading Magistrates to consider mitigating circumstances and have achieved heavily reduced penalties for our clients. Unfortunately, Magistrates do not take kindly to people who choose to represent themselves without having a reasonable understanding of the law. Failing to instruct a professional solicitor to argue your case could result in you receiving the maximum number of penalty points, even though you thought you had a good chance for pleading mitigating circumstances.
Changes to the fines for speeding
In April 2017, the laws around speeding fines and offences changed dramatically. Most people remain unaware of this. Following the changes, drivers could end up paying hundreds of pounds more in fines for speeding offences and up to six points on your driver’s licence or disqualification.
From April 2017, a fixed-penalty notice for speeding will result in three points on your driving licence and a £100 fine. However, if your speeding results in a court summons or you choose to reject the fixed-penalty notice and challenge the fine, the penalties could increase dramatically, to £1,000 (or £2,500 on the motorway). In addition, you could be immediately disqualified from driving.
The changes to the fines are complicated, but here's a broad outline, starting with the three main 'bands' of speeding.
This refers to the lowest level of speeding. For example, you could be driving at between 21mph and 30mph in a 20mph zone, 31mph to 40mph in a 30mph zone, or 71mph to 90mph on a 70mph road. You can expect 3 points on your licence and a fine of around 50% of your weekly income.
This is for more serious cases of speeding. If you're in a 20mph zone and you drive at 31mph to 40mph, or in a 40mph zone at 56mph to 65mph, or up to 100mph in a 70mph, that'll be a Band B fine. That means 4 to 6 points on your licence, or disqualification for between 7 and 28 days, plus a fine of 100% of your weekly income.
This is for the most egregious speeding. If you're doing 41mph or above in a 20mph zone, 51mph or above in a 30mph zone, or above 100mph in a 70mph zone, that's a Band C fine. That means 6 points on your licence or disqualification for between 7 and 56 days, as well as a fine of 150% of your weekly income.
Source: The Telegraph
The magistrate can exercise discretion when handing down fines. Mitigating circumstances under the new rules include the establishment of a genuine emergency, a lack of previous convictions (or no relevant/recent convictions) and "good character".
However, magistrates must also consider aggravating factors (things that could increase the penalty) which include certain previous convictions, speeding in bad weather, using a mobile phone (also stand-alone offence) speeding in a lorry, bus, or taxi, speeding while towing, speeding while driving for hire or reward, speeding with passengers, or speeding somewhere particularly inappropriate, like near a school or crowded shopping street.
Why choose us?
Our speeding solicitors have a robust reputation for having an in-depth understanding of speeding offences and the defences available to alleged offenders. We are committed to achieving the best results for our private clients who have chosen to challenge a speeding offence.
Our clients trust us because we work hard to prove to them our knowledge of the law and exceptional client care. Our legal teams and individual lawyers are consistently recommended highly by the ‘Legal 500’ and ‘Chambers’ Guide to the Legal Profession’. These rankings are made by independent researchers who base their decisions entirely on feedback from clients and other professionals.
We understand that for some people, losing their driver’s licence, even for a short period of time, is not an option. Philip and our other speeding solicitors will provide you with practical, sensible legal advice and a strong, well thought out, tactical defence.
Should you choose to please guilty with mitigating circumstances, we will work with you to understand the circumstances you found yourself in, and the beliefs you held at the time of the speeding offence. We will then use this knowledge to build a robust, persuasive argument, designed to lessen your fine and/or the number of penalty points awarded as much as possible.
Let our expert team do the work of defending your speeding offence for you. By entrusting our speeding solicitors, your chances of having a quality, highly strategised and tactical defence are greatly improved, providing you with a chance to avoid the stress and financial loss that comes with disqualification.
At Minton Morrill, we can provide representation if you believe you should not have been given points on your licence or if you are facing disqualification and believe this would cause you exceptional hardship. To find out how our road traffic offence solicitors in Leeds, Bradford, Hull, Yorkshire and the wider North of England can help you, please contact us.
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