As reported by the BBC today, there has been a huge increase in speeding drivers during the lockdown period.
The highest speeds recorded during the lockdown in London were:
163mph on a 70mph road
134mph on a 40mph road
110mph on a 30mph road
73mph on a 20mph road
Clearly, these startling headline figures serve to shock but with an exponential increase in automatic and mobile speed detection devices over recent years, those caught for more minor transgressions are increasingly at risk of losing their driving licence under the current penalty points system.
The advice that follows applies to England and Wales but not to Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Most UK police forces apply a similar policy to my local force, Lancashire Constabulary. Here, the police are happy to publicise their approach to speeding motorists on their own website, by use of a handy chart which I recreate here:
|Speed Limit||Speed Awareness Course OR Fixed Penalty||Fixed Penalty Only||Straight to Summons|
|20 mph||25 – 31 mph||32 – 34 mph||35 mph +|
|30 mph||36 – 42 mph||43 – 49 mph||50 mph +|
|40 mph||47 – 53 mph||54 – 65 mph||66 mph +|
|50 mph||58 – 64 mph||54 – 65 mph||76 mph +|
|60 mph||69 – 75 mph||76 – 85 mph||86 mph +|
|70 mph||80 – 86 mph||87 – 95 mph||96 mph +|
Drivers are eligible for an offer of a speed awareness course if they have not been on one in the preceding three years.
A speed awareness course carries the benefit of not carrying any penalty points whatsoever. Some insurance companies will ask policyholders if they have attended a course – if you have, you should answer honestly – although many insurers don’t ask the question at all.
The fixed penalty is currently a financial penalty of £100 and the endorsement of your driving licence with 3 penalty points. As such, it is only available to drivers who currently have 8 or less penalty points due to what is known as the totting up provisions.
It is worth noting that the fixed penalty regime is significantly more generous than the official Sentencing Council guidelines which apply to drivers who have to go to Court. For example, from the table above, a driver caught driving at 95 mph on a motorway is eligible for a fixed penalty but if they fall to be dealt with at Court then the start point is the consideration of a short disqualification.
In broad summary form, those official guidelines are as set out below although the guidelines go on to confirm that for driving grossly in excess of the speed limit, the Court should consider a disqualification in excess of 56 days:
|Speed limit||Recorded speed|
|20 mph||41 mph and above||31 mph – 40 mph||21 mph – 30 mph|
|30 mph||51 mph and above||41 mph – 50 mph||31 mph – 40 mph|
|40 mph||66 mph and above||56 mph – 65 mph||41 mph – 55 mph|
|50 mph||76 mph and above||66 mph – 75 mph||51 mph – 65 mph|
|60 mph||91 mph and above||81 mph – 90 mph||61 mph – 80 mph|
|70 mph||101 mph and above||91 mph – 100 mph||71 mph – 90 mph|
|Sentence Range||Band C Fine||Band B Fine||Band A Fine|
|Points / Disqualification||Disqualify 7 – 56 days OR 6 points||Disqualify 7 – 28 days OR 4 – 6 points||3 points|
Drivers who receive a short disqualification for an offence do not get any penalty points and so, for some it is the preferred option – although it is the Court that gets to choose, not the driver.
That is because the totting up provisions also exist to catch repeat offenders. Anybody who accumulates 12 penalty points or more in a three year period (calculated from offence date to offence date) faces a disqualification from driving for a minimum period of 6 months.
This can be avoided if an application is made to the Court that mitigating circumstances apply which are exceptional in their nature – this is often referred to as “exceptional hardship”. Recent guidelines remind Magistrates to exercise caution before granting such applications and it is now established that loss of employment on its own will not amount to exceptional hardship.
Should you find yourself at risk of a driving disqualification either due to excess speed or because you are at risk of reaching 12 points or more then please contact me for expert advice. Representation at such hearings is available from £500 per Court hearing, inclusive. When your livelihood is on the line, professional representation is strongly recommended to ensure that all relevant mitigation is put forward on your behalf.
Notwithstanding the “Straight to Summons” heading in Lancashire Constabulary’s chart, Court proceedings for speeding offences are now started by way of Single Justice Procedure Notice. Many matters can be dealt with by written representations and a physical Court attendance is not always required. Should you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice and would like expert help in dealing with it then my fee is fixed in the sum of £250.