Speeding Fines in the UK: A Complete Overview of Penalties and Consequences

November 18, 2023 11:26 am
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Speeding is one of the most common driving offences in the UK. There were 245,000 prosecutions for speed limit offences in 2022 alone, according to government statistics*. For drivers, a speeding fine can lead to penalty points, higher insurance costs, and even the loss of a licence in some cases.

In this blog post, we provide a comprehensive overview of speeding fines and penalties in the UK. We look at the different types of speeding offences, the fines and punishments for each, and the consequences that drivers can face. With speed cameras and speed traps becoming increasingly sophisticated, motorists need to understand the full implications of breaking the speed limit. Specialist speeding offence solicitors can also provide advice if you believe a speeding allegation against you is unfair or wrong.

* Figures quoted from government data source: Criminal Justice Statistics quarterly: December 2022 (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-december-2022/criminal-justice-statistics-quarterly-december-2022-html#motoring12)

 

Contents

Speeding Offences
Penalties for Speeding
Aggravating Factors
Consequences of Speeding
Defending Speeding Allegations
Summary

 

Speeding Offences

There is only one type of speeding offence in the UK – Exceeding the Speed Limit. While sometimes misunderstood, factors like the type of road (motorway, A-road, etc.) or driving conditions (roadworks, nighttime, etc.) do not constitute different “offences”. They only change what the posted speed limit may be.

The key factors are:

  • Posted Speed Limit – Drivers must observe and not exceed the limit displayed on road signs and highlighted in the Highway Code. Limits range from 20 mph in residential areas to 70mph on motorways.
  • Temporary Speed Limits – Limits can be temporarily lowered due to roadworks, accidents, or other hazards. Not obeying these lower temporary limits is still speeding.
  • Time of Day – Some limits only apply at certain times, like 20mph outside schools during drop-off/pick-up periods. The time-based restriction must be followed.
  • Vehicle Type – Limits apply to all vehicle types from cars to HGVs. Different vehicles are not subject to separate speeding rules.

Ultimately, there is one simple, unified offence and the actual limit may vary by road, time, or conditions, but not following the posted limit constitutes speeding in all cases.

 

Penalties for Speeding

Exceeding the speed limit in the UK carries significant penalties for drivers. The punishment depends on the severity of speeding based on how much over the limit the motorist was driving. The main penalties imposed for speeding offences include:

Fixed Penalty Notices

The most common penalty for speeding is a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) that carries a fine and penalty points. For exceeding the speed limit by a small amount, the FPN is usually £100 plus 3 points added to your licence. Fines increase on a sliding scale for higher speeds. At 41mph in a 30mph zone, for example, the FPN fine would be £200. Going over 51mph in a 30 zone leads to a £450 fine and 4-6 penalty points. The FPN can be increased even higher if excessive speed is reached.

Penalty Points

In addition to fines, most speeding convictions result in penalty points on your driver’s licence. The number of points depends on the excess speed, with 3-6 points being typical. These stay on your licence for 4-11 years. Accumulating 12+ points within 3 years normally leads to disqualification from driving for a minimum of 6 months. It’s possible to reduce points by completing a driver improvement course.

Speed Awareness Courses

Some drivers may be offered a speed awareness course for a first-time, low-level speeding offence between 10% + 9mph above the limit. This enables you to avoid penalty points on your licence. The course involves a 4-hour class highlighting road safety and the dangers of speeding. It cannot be taken more than once every 3 years. The fee to attend is usually £100. This course option is only available in certain police jurisdictions.

Higher Fines

While the Fixed Penalty Notice fines may seem high already, the courts can impose much greater fines up to £2,500 for serious speeding based on the severity. These court-levied fines are reserved for very excessive speeds or repeat offences. Having legal representation is advisable if being summoned to court over speeding charges. The fine amount will depend on factors like how far over the limit you were driving.

Discretionary Disqualifications

The courts can impose discretionary disqualification periods if you are found guilty of reckless speeding behaviour. This bans the person from driving for a set time period. Discretionary bans are common if drivers reach excess speeds like driving over 100mph or are repeat speeding offenders. The length of the ban is decided case-by-case, but usually starts from 6 months or 1 year minimum.

The rules around speeding penalties aim to strike a balance between punishment, deterrence, and keeping driving privileges intact where appropriate. While minor infringements warrant fines and points, the most severe offenders may lose their licence. Next, we’ll examine some of the aggravating factors that can further increase speeding penalties.

 

Aggravating Factors

Many aggravating factors can increase the penalties and fines imposed for speeding offences depending on the circumstances. These include:

Excessive Speeds

The degree to which you exceed the speed limit has a major impact on the penalty. The faster you are driving over the limit, the more severe the fine and punishment will be. For example, going over 100 mph or over twice the speed limit leads to an automatic driving ban. Excessive speeds also result in larger fines issued by the courts rather than standard Fixed Penalty Notices.

Location of Speeding

The location where speeding takes place affects the seriousness of the offence. Speeding in areas like school zones, residential districts or high pedestrian areas is treated most harshly and results in higher fines. This is because endangering vulnerable groups is seen as an aggravating circumstance.

Traffic Conditions

Driving too fast in heavy traffic, poor weather conditions like rain or fog, or on icy roads are considered riskier behaviours that warrant larger penalties. Speeding in these hazardous conditions shows negligence for safety, so fines are increased compared to clear conditions.

Purpose of Driving

If caught speeding in a larger vehicle used for work purposes, like a commercial van or heavy goods vehicle, the offence is treated more severely. The penalties increase given the safety implications of speeding with passengers, cargo or other motorists.

Driver Experience

New or inexperienced drivers face harsher speeding penalties. Those still on their provisional licence or who only recently passed their test are expected to take care and follow limits. Exceeding limits indicates a lack of skill, so stronger punishment applies as a deterrent.

Repeat Offences

Drivers who already have active speeding convictions on their licences get substantially higher fines and more penalty points if caught speeding again. Repeat offences show a lack of responsibility, so second and third-time offences within 3 years lead to escalating penalties.

Multiple Offences

If caught speeding twice within a short period, the second offence’s fine amount increases significantly regardless of licence history. Multiple offences within months demonstrate negligence and incur escalating fines to deter repetition.

These aggravating circumstances demonstrate the importance of driving within the speed limit at all times to avoid heightened punishments.

 

Consequences of Speeding

Beyond the initial penalties, a speeding conviction can have lasting consequences for drivers in the UK. Some of the main repercussions include:

Insurance Premium Increases

A major consequence of a speeding conviction is substantially higher car insurance premiums. Drivers with speeding offences on their record are viewed as higher risk by insurers, so they typically face increased premiums that can affect their premiums for 5 years. This financial penalty and burden is in addition to the initial fine.

Impact on Employment

For jobs that involve driving as a key duty, such as delivery work, transportation services, or operating vehicles, a speeding conviction may preclude the employee from being covered under the company’s car/van insurance policy if they are deemed high risk. This can jeopardise their employment status.

Driving Record Impact

Penalty points from speeding convictions stay on the offender’s driving record for 4-11 years depending on severity. This history of speeding makes any subsequent offences within that period subject to harsher fines and penalties. It can also influence licence renewal or purchase of a new vehicle insurance policy.

Increased Crash Risk

Speeding dramatically increases the risk of being involved in or causing a serious car accident. Excess speed reduces reaction times and control, making collisions, injuries, and fatalities much more likely. It shows negligent regard for other road users’ safety.

Financial Costs

Between fines, lawyer’s fees if disputing the conviction, higher insurance premiums, and other associated expenses, a single speeding offence can quickly amount to a significant financial burden exceeding thousands of pounds in costs over time. This is in addition to the initial penalty.

Future Disqualification

If a driver accrues 12+ penalty points on their licence through repeat speeding or other offences, they face a minimum 6-month driving disqualification. This prevents legal driving until the suspension period expires. Severe offences like going over 100mph can also lead to immediate bans.

The repercussions of speeding can be severe and long-lasting – far beyond the initial fine and penalty points. Taking steps to avoid exceeding speed limits is vital for drivers to maintain safe licences, affordable insurance premiums, employment, and mobility.

 

Defending Speeding Allegations

If you receive a speeding fine but believe it is based on wrong or inaccurate information, it is possible to contest the allegation in court. Potential defences include:

  • Incorrect Vehicle – If the photo evidence shows a different vehicle from yours was speeding, this invalidates the charge against you.
  • Incorrect Time/Location – In some cases car plates can be cloned and used on other vehicles. In this situation, you would need to provide evidence to prove you and your vehicle were in another location at the time of the incident.
  • Emergency Situation – Explaining any emergency circumstances that compelled you to legally exceed the speed limit in a safe manner.

Contesting unfair or inaccurate speeding allegations requires strong legal arguments and evidence. With an expert traffic law solicitor from a firm like Driving Solicitors, you have the best chance of successfully defending against wrongful speeding charges.

 

Summary

Exceeding the speed limit in the UK has serious penalties and consequences for drivers. Even minor speeding offences incur fines, penalty points, and insurance premium hikes. More severe speeding leads to large fines, bans, and lasting driving record impacts.

Aggravating factors like location, weather, and driver history affect the punishment severity. The financial costs and mobility limitations from speeding can be far greater than the initial fine. Defending allegations requires strong legal arguments and representation.

By understanding speed limit enforcement and the many penalties for speeding, UK drivers can make responsible choices. While a momentary lapse of speed may seem harmless, the effects on insurance, employment, finances and driving privileges can be life-changing. Driving within the limits, conditions, and your capabilities is essential to avoid fines while staying safe on the roads.