Speeding offences - the UK law
Updated: Apr 25
The offence of speeding in the UK is a matrix of speed limits, offences, detection methods, tolerances, mitigation (or, conversely, aggravating factors) and of course, penalties, which increased in severity starting from April 2017.
The fundamental law is simple; you have committed an offence if you drive above the speed limit, even slightly, However, guidelines from the the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) acknowledge the unlikelihood of consistent driver perfection and recommend a tolerance of 10% to allow for reasonable fluctuation of human concentration levels. There is an additional recommended allowance of 2mph for inaccurate speedometer calibration.
So in practice, you would be unlikely to be given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for travelling below 35mph in a 30mph limit, 46mph in a 40mph limit, and so on, up to 79mph in a 70mph limit. For more serious breaches, for example 50mph in a 30mph limit up to 96mph in a 70mph limit, the NPCC suggest a summons with an accompanying range of more stringent penalties available.
Note that these are guidelines, and individual circumstances may affect to what degree they are followed. The NPCC use the example of breaking the 20mph limit near to a school during certain hours of the day as one offence where the law may be applied more strictly. And their guidelines make their discretionary nature clear:
“Consistency of approach does not mean uniformity. It does mean taking a similar approach in similar circumstances to achieve similar ends. Police officers are faced with many variables; the decision as to what action to take is a matter of judgement, and they must exercise their discretion”.
The only absolute, fixed point of reference, is the speed limit.
Clearly any speeding prosecution is bad news for the driver, but for those facing a summons for one of the more serious offences, or even a FPN for a relatively minor transgression when they are already carrying 9 points on their licence, the impact can be devastating. Loss of a driving licence, even for a short period of time, can have serious consequences to people's work, career, social and family lives.
And, especially since the April 2017 increases, the fines can be significant too. There is now a possible £2500 fine for certain speeding offences on the motorway.
There are circumstances where professional, specialist legal assistance can help, and it costs nothing to establish if your case could benefit from such expertise. Examples might include mitigation, such as driving over the speed limit when faced with a medical emergency, or perhaps other personal circumstances which could mean a ban leading to disproportionate hardship. In other cases where prosecution has occurred, it may be possible to appeal, to reduce or reverse the original judgement.
Every case involves different circumstances, including means of detection (speed camera, police officer, speed trap etc.), previous driving record of the offender, their personal circumstances and so on, so legal help can often make a significant difference in the outcome of a case or the severity of the punishment.
There is rarely such a thing as a clear cut case, and in-depth knowledge of the intricacies of UK motoring law has given NGP London Driving Lawyers an enviable record in securing fair outcomes for countless motoring clients over the past 25 years.
For friendly, professional advice, free from obligation, please call us 24 hours a day on 020 8309 5010 or use our contact page.