If you're caught driving over the speed limit on a UK road and you're stopped, you can be given a(FPN) if your speed was below the minimum speed for prosecution. If your speed was over the speed limit but low enough, you can, on a one-off basis, be offered the option of a speed awareness course. If you do take this option, you'll have to pay for the speed awareness course and attend it, but you won't need to pay the fixed penalty and you'll avoid getting any penalty points.
There are 2 stages in being charged with speeding.
After the alleged speeding incident, the police will send you, as the registered keeper of the vehicle, a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP). The NIP requires you to identify the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged incident, if this wasn't you. You should do this by completing and returning the Section 172 Notice or, in Northern Ireland Article 177 Notice, which is supplied with the NIP. Failure to do so is an offence which could result in penalties.
You'll then receive either a(depending on the amount by which the speed limit was exceeded) or an order to appear in court (summons).
If you've received a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty Notice, you can accept the offer (along with 3 additional penalty points and a £60 fine) or reject it and be summonsed.
The police can also decide to prosecute you in court if you already have more than 8 points on your licence. In this case, you'll be sent a court summons. The police have up to 6 months from the date of the offence to start court proceedings.
Acceptable defences to a speeding charge include:
When you receive the NIP, return the Section 172 Notice or Article 177 Notice within 28 days, identifying the driver of the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence.
If the police are going to send a Conditional Offer of a Fixed Penalty, they'll normally do so shortly after receiving your Section 172 Notice or Article 177 Notice.
Conditional offers have no official system for appeals. However, some police forces do accept informal letters of appeal, especially if the ticket has been issued in error. If this is possible in your case, write to the address provided (check the individual police force's guidelines for details).
If the force that issued the notice has no informal appeals option, or if it rejects your appeal, you'll have to either pay the fine or formally contest the speeding offence.
To do this, you'll need to request a court hearing by completing the relevant part of the FPN. Send this to the address on the 'Request court hearing' slip and you'll receive a summons.
Before you do this, you should seek legal advice to understand your chances of winning your case and the possible consequences of losing it.
With your summons you'll receive a 'Plea and mitigation' form, which you must fill in and return before your court appearance. On this form you must give your plea and other information. You have 2 plea options:
You can ask for the police's and prosecution's evidence of the speeding offence before the court hearing. This can be useful if you:
At the trial, the prosecution must prove every element of the offence, including that:
If you're found guilty, there is a risk that the fine and penalty points will be more than those attached to the FPN.
For more information on the sentences that magistrates can impose, see our discussion on.
Scotland and Northern Ireland operate similar schemes for speed limit enforcement to the rest of the UK.