Speeding in Scotland is a criminal offence, and that is a surprise to many people. Most people think penalty points for speeding is a small deal. It is therefore important to speak to speeding offence lawyers to make sure you understand the repercussions if you commit a speeding offence and they’ll explore the options open to you.
Speeding fines and speeding points come in many shapes and sizes, and there are different laws for speeding on a motorway or in a town, for instance.
Speeding offence penalties
Speeding offence penalties depend on your history and circumstances.
The penalty most people are familiar with is the pink slip that you get when you are pulled over for speeding by the police. If you accept the fixed penalty notice, you get 28 days to pay the fine and get the 3 penalty points for speeding.
If you are caught speeding by a camera, you will receive a notice of intended prosecution where you will be required to supply the details of the person driving at the time. Failing to do so is a criminal offence and attracts a higher fine and six penalty points.
For many simply accepting the fixed penalty notice and paying the fine is the best action to take, however, speak to a lawyer for speeding tickets to make sure there are no legal issues you should be aware of.
You should weigh up the cost versus the benefit of defending your case.
If you have a clean licence, then it may not be worth the monetary cost of fighting it in court.
If you fail to pay the fine, your case will be referred to the Procurator Fiscal, and you may end up in court.
Speeding fixed penalty
You may receive a Procurator Fiscal letter offering you a further fixed penalty notice. The police may or not have issued you one, but the Procurator Fiscal may do so as well.
You can’t get a fixed penalty notice if you already have 9 points on your licence, so the police will run a check before they proceed to offer a fixed penalty notice.
If you choose not to accept the fixed penalty notice (or you have 9 points on your licence and cannot receive one), you can contest it in court, but there are some things you should consider before taking this course of action.
If you are unsuccessful, then you will have a criminal conviction.
If you have an occupation that relies on you having no convictions such as a doctor, dentist or other professional or if you travel internationally, particularly to America where it can cause you visa difficulties, you may wish to take a fixed penalty notice to avoid proceeding to trial.
Minor offences – fixed penalty notices
Minor speeding offences are usually resolved through a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), which means you do not have to appear in court. An FPN for speeding will give you 3 penalty points on your licence and a £100 fine, though sometimes you will be offered the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course instead.
If you feel you have a legal defence against the accusation of speeding, or you have been incorrectly issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice, you will be able to dispute the speeding offence in court.
However, if you are unable to convince the court to let you off, they will be able to increase the fine you must pay. You should get legal advice if you are considering challenging the FPN in court.
You are not entitled to have an FPN offered to you – the issuer may choose to have you taken to court instead.
Serious speeding offence
Situations of excessive speeding, usually defined as breaking the speed limit by 20mph or more, may lead to prosecution. If you are prosecuted and convicted, you could receive a fine of up to £1,000 or £2,500 for motorway offences. You could also receive 3-6 points on your driving licence.
If you are prosecuted, you will receive a court summons. The police must lodge the summons with the court within 6 months of the offence.
However, this does not mean that if 6 months pass without hearing anything that you have escaped the charge – the summons may have been lodged without you having yet heard anything.
If you are summoned to court, you will be able to plead either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. Even when entering a ‘guilty’ plea, you will have the opportunity to reduce your punishment if you are able to demonstrate mitigating circumstances which may have arisen in the situation.
If you lose in court, you will face a maximum fine of £1,000, as well as the potential for 3-6 penalty points to be added to your licence.
Defences and mitigation for speeding offences
There are several defences you could use to dispute a speeding offence.
If you do wish to defend yourself against a speeding charge, you should get legal advice. If you do dispute a speeding offence on your own, only do so if you legitimately have a case – offering up a fictional defence will not help, and could see you prosecuted further.
The identity of the driver is unknown
If you don’t know the identity of the driver at the time the offence was committed, you may be able to argue this. However, you must prove that you have done your best to try and find out who was driving at the time. If you still cannot establish the identity of the driver, you may have a successful defence.
Unreliable speed trap guns
Speed trap guns have to be calibrated regularly, and you could avoid any punishment if you can prove that the gun that resulted in your charge was not properly calibrated could spare you any punishment.
You can request to see the calibration records to see if the gun was properly calibrated – however, the police do not have to let you see the records.
NIP was not received within 14 days
This 14-day period does not include the day of the offence and a couple of days to allow for postage of the NIP (Notice of Intended Prosecution).
However, if you still did not receive the NIP within the time period you may have a valid defence. This will not count as a defence if:
- the summons is issued within 14 days of the offence
- you are not the registered keeper of the vehicle but the registered keeper did receive the NIP in time
- you have moved and the NIP was sent to an old address because you failed to update it, or
- the officer gave you a verbal NIP at the time of the offence.
Not enough witnesses
If the speeding charge was brought through an eye-witness account rather than by record from a camera or speed gun, there must be at least two witnesses. One witness alone is not enough for a speeding charge.
Not present at the time of the speeding offence
It’s possible that you were not even involved in the speeding offence, and you were implicated in a case of mistaken identity. For example, the vehicle’s registration plate could have been read incorrectly, or someone may have duplicated your licence plates. Ask to see photos of the offending vehicle if you think this is possible.
You were being chased
You may have felt forced to speed in order to escape from someone who was pursuing you. If you felt that you and/or your passengers were under threat from your pursuer, this may be considered to be a valid defence.
Defences that are not valid for a speeding offence
None of the following can be used as a defence against a speeding charge, even if you felt that you were justified in speeding at the time.
- the camera did not conform to the regulations set out for their operation
- there were no relevant visible road signs
- the speed trap was hidden – there is no requirement for the police to make themselves visible or provide a warning when operating in this way
- you were late
- there was an emergency
- the car behind was too close.
Although none of these arguments will be considered a valid defence, one or more of them could be considered as part of a plea in mitigation.
Mitigation letter for driving offences in Scotland
A plea of mitigation should be taken into consideration by the court and could result in a lighter sentence. No plea of mitigation can be given for a. The following are possible grounds for mitigation:
- Exceptional hardship would result – possible loss of job, disruption of family transport, or transport for someone who is ill/has special needs.
- Serious emergency – if the emergency is not enough to get an acquittal then it could amount to grounds for mitigation.
- Other circumstances could also be valid to each individual case, and the help of a solicitor can help you in determining if their merit is sufficient. It is advisable that you pursue mitigation through a letter as this limits the amount of the court’s time that you take up and currying their favour can only be of help to your case.
Rules and regulations for speed cameras
In 2001 the law was changed so that speed cameras had to be painted yellow to ensure visibility. Many other rules were also brought in regarding speed cameras.
The regulations decree that:
- speed camera housings must be coloured yellow
- camera housings cannot be obscured, e.g. by trees, bushes or signs
- cameras must be visible from 60m away in 40mph or less zones and 100m for all other speed limit zones
- signs must only be placed in areas where camera housings are located or where mobile cameras are in operation
- in order to make them visible, mobile speed camera operators must be wearing fluorescent clothing, and their vehicles should be marked with reflective strips
- camera sites are to be reviewed at least every six months in order to ensure that cameras are adequately visible and signed.
Speeding offence solicitors
You can contact a speeding solicitor for free advice if you have committed a speeding offence as convictions can be defeated in court by experienced speeding fine solicitors.
If you need help with a speeding ticket or have received notification of a speeding offence, contact us for free initial advice.
Our speeding lawyers will assess your circumstances and look at the evidence to see if we can avoid your conviction.