Caught speeding

Roadside check  | Speed fines | GATSO | Truvelo | Average speed cameras | ANPR 



Jack Warner as Dixon of Dock Green. PR-wise, the British police never had it so good. PC George Dixon starred in every episode of this British TV series from 1955 - 1976. He was fair, decent, honest, trustworthy, shrewd and very "human". However, this was fiction, and the reality of modern policing is very different...




Pages in this feature


Motorcyclists and the police

Caught speeding

Stopped by the police

Arrested by the police


Sections in this feature


The police are not our friends

Giving the police a false name and address

Can I refuse to stop on demand?

Can the police seize my bike?

So what is the UK maximum speeding fine?

The rule of law

Recordable and non-recordable offences

What about bail?

Do I have the right to see a solicitor?

Stop and search

What happens to my DNA sample?




Remember that the "legal information" given in this feature is neither professional nor expert. Additionally, much of what follows is mere opinion.


However, we've done the best we reasonably can to ensure that everything we've published is accurate, relevant and up-to-date. Nevertheless, we strongly suggest that you use this feature only as a starting point for whatever enquiries you need to make, and then look elsewhere for confirmation.


Experts are apt to make errors.


Amateurs too.




BEEN STOPPED FOR SPEEDING? Or snapped by a speed camera? Well you're in good (or, if you prefer, bad) company because speeding is the most common motoring offence in the UK. Most people get away with it most of the time, of course. But if you speed long enough, and often enough, and (dare we say?) carelessly enough, you'll eventually get what's coming to you.


Usually, the penalty for speeding is a £100 fine plus 3 points on your licence (2019 figures). And generally, you'll incur this penalty if you're 10% plus 2mph over the speed limit. But this is a Home Office guideline and isn't rigidly applied. Repeat that to yourself if you will because many people get that wrong.


A 30mph speed limit is the limit. No ifs, no buts. Ditto for 50mph, etc.


But to help keep the general public on-side, the cops/government often apply a little latitude. So riding at 35mph in a 30mph limit usually—and we said usually—won't get you ticketed. Except that we know of one or two people who have incurred such a fine and points for riding just over thirty.


It's a fickle world.


Fortunately/unfortunately, if you're nabbed by a camera you might be offered a speed awareness course. This offer will usually arrive in the post within a few days of the offence. And that will mean you'll avoid the fine and the points.


But why do we say "unfortunately"? Because these speed awareness courses, which last three-to-four hours or so, are invariably a slow torture delivered by some of the most smug, arrogant, self-righteous and patronising on-message know-it-alls in the British Isles. We know this to be true because we've been there and done it, and we've still got the mental and emotional scars.


Then again, unlike a speeding ticket, taking such a course doesn't appear to add anything to your insurance policy, and that could otherwise be expensive. However, the next time we get a speeding ticket, we'll take the points and the fine. A quick death is preferable. And note that the speed awareness course isn't free. It can cost anything up to £100, and if you're busted again for speeding within three years of the first offence, the course is not an option. A merciful fine will come your way.


But if you've been stopped for speeding whilst riding more than 45% over the limit, you'll bypass the fixed penalty and the speed awareness course and will be up before the beak. In that instance, you could face a much heftier fine and/or a driving ban of weeks, months or conceivably years.


So what is the UK maximum
speeding fine?


Well, for speeding on A and B roads, the limit is £1,000 plus 3 points on your licence. But for speeding on motorways, that ramps up to £2,500. These numbers are correct for November 2019 and are subject to revision.


If the police stop you for speeding, you could be sent an FPN (Fixed Penalty Notice). You'll usually receive this within 14 days. Or they could report you directly to the courts. Or they could give you a verbal caution and send you on your way.


Should you talk to the police when stopped for speeding? Our advice is not to. Yes, you might get "let off" with an aforementioned caution. It happens. Or you might get an FPN. But as ever, the police habitually gather evidence on anyone they stop, and if you engage in chit-chat with the cops you could expose yourself to other risks. Ultimately you have to call it as you see it. See elsewhere on this feature about being STOPPED BY THE POLICE.


If you reject the caution and the FPN and insist that you're not guilty, you risk being summoned. Meanwhile, take note that if you plead not guilty you could also end up with a riding/driving ban for anything up to three years depending on your riding/driving record.


Worse still, in some circumstances your licence could even be revoked; i.e. taken away completely until you're permitted to re-take a driving test and start "from scratch". Special rules apply to new drivers.


Also note that court fines are usually means tested. So a magistrate will therefore ask about your earnings or income or savings and will factor that into the penalty.


Either way there are risks. Naturally, the best defence is not to speed. But you have to be realistic. Riding around at the legal limit on British roads is likely to get you rear ended sooner or later if not shunted into a ditch. So do what you feel you have to do, then pay the price.


The police can lawfully stop you if they:


suspect you've been drinking

have committed a motoring offence

have been involved in a road traffic accident (RTA)


... and they can stop you lawfully if they believe you have committed a non-motoring offence or are the subject of an outstanding warrant.



Challenging speed camera evidence


This is a complex area and best left to the experts. But generally speaking, you need to show that there are technical or substantial errors with the ticket, such as wrong date, wrong time, wrong vehicle registration number, wrong driver.


This latter point arises when a vehicle is routinely being used by numerous people, such as a car pool, or a delivery motorcycle that's being used by a team of riders.

And if the road signage is wrong (and there are very strict conditions that camera authorities have to meet), or if the camera itself can be shown to be faulty, you might have a case to argue. But it could end up costing you substantially more if you lose. You might have to pay a lot for your principles.

Meanwhile, there are all kinds of other dodges that sharp solicitors and enterprising companies will employ to "get you off the hook". For a fee. But unless you're absolutely certain that you can win a case (and most losers typically are absolutely certain, take note), you're probably best advised to pay the fine, accept the points, and be more careful on the road.



Speed cameras are unfair


They certainly are. It's not that we're in favour of speeding or having no controls on the street. There has to be limits. Fact is, most riders/drivers will exceed the limit time and time again. Often there will also be a dangerous component to that speeding.

Our problem is that speed cameras demand that you convict yourself. The speed camera system makes the assumption that it was you riding the offending bike or driving the offending car at the given location at the given time and on the given day.

If you refuse to say who was riding/driving, you'll be committing an offence and will be treated accordingly (heavier fine, and possibly extra points).

Moreover, anyone who's cloned your vehicle number plates and is using your numbers can speed with impunity while you get the Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) and/or have to defend yourself in court at your expense.

Manifestly, that's wrong and goes against the basic principles of British justice that tells us all that we can't be compelled to convict ourselves.

Except that we can.

Simply, the law is the law, and there's no evidence that's it's about to change any time soon—not least because there simply aren't enough traffic cops on the streets to deal with issues such as speeding, dangerous driving, etc.

Such officers, of course, would have the ability to identify a speeding rider/driver at the point where they're stopped. That sounds fair and just. But to avoid paying the wages of thousands of extra police, the easier/cheaper option is to simply frame a law telling us, effectively, that we have to name ourselves when an FPN or a summons lands on our doormat.

Or we can point the finger at someone else.

And if someone volunteers (for a fee or otherwise) to nominate themselves as the rider/driver, you're looking at jail time for perverting the course of justice when the scheme unravels.

Our advice?

Don't risk it.

And while we remember, the Truvelo cameras (see above right) are able to photograph the rider or driver which supposedly rules out mis-identification. But it doesn't. The images are often very poor, and a lot of people look like a lot of other people. And even if you can show that the driver or rider wasn't you, you could still spend a lot of time and money proving your innocence—and it's not always easy to get access to those images before you're ready to put in a plea of guilty or not guilty.

The system is a mess.











Types of speed cameras


There are two basic types of speed cameras on the loose in the UK. Fixed cameras. And mobile cameras.

The best known is, of course, the GATSO cameras (image immediately above), and we've got Dutchman Maus Gatsonides to blame for these.

These fixed cameras are usually called "rear facing" because they photograph the rear of a motorcycle or car. But you could argue that they're actually "forward facing"; i.e. facing the direction of travel.



Regardless, there is another type of fixed camera called the Truvelo camera (image immediately above), and these are usually referred to as "forward facing" because they face towards the oncoming vehicle.

Unlike the GATSO system which photographs the rear number plate, the Truvelos (which hail from South Africa) will capture the front number plate and the face of the driver.  And naturally, bikers generally prefer Truvelos for pretty obvious reasons.

GATSO cameras use radar technology coupled with painted lines on the tarmac. The lines are marked at 5mph intervals with reference to the posted speed limit. Therefore a "30mph GATSO" will have lines on the tarmac painted closer together than, say, a "40mph GATSO".

The idea is that the white painted lines act as corroboration for the radar.

Truvelo cameras, meanwhile, use sensors in the road to measure the speed of a passing vehicle. When the sensors detect an offence, a camera takes a series of images which helps it gauge the speed and prove that offence.

These cameras are identified by a red filter over the flash gun which is designed to avoid dazzling a rider or driver.




Average speed cameras (SPECS) use different technology (image immediately above). This system relies on cameras which zoom in on vehicle's front number plates (and rear in some instances). The information is fed through a computer database which monitors the registration number as the vehicle moves further down the road.

If the computers detect a vehicle with an average speed that's higher than the posted limit, they'll react and—depending on how fast the vehicle was captured travelling—will report a rider or driver for a summons.

These high tech cameras feature ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) technology. They can also expose other information about of your vehicle such as insurance details, MOT details, road tax details, or whether the vehicle is on a wanted list.

Mobile speed cameras, meanwhile, are exactly as they sound. Portable. Re-positionable. Mobile.

Generally they're used in specific area campaigns or at roadworks or similar.

These cameras might be operated by the police, or operated by local authority camera partnership.

Generally they use radar technology to measure the speed of oncoming vehicles. Compared to GATSO cameras or Truvelos, handheld or mobile cameras are less accurate, largely due to operator error.

But remember that all cameras must be regularly calibrated and have certificates to prove it. And mobile cameras have to be set up according to whatever guidelines are in force.





Is it illegal to exceed the speed limit when overtaking?


Absolutely. The maximum speed is the maximum. As the police are fond of reminding us, the posted speed is the limit, not the target.

However, in everyday riding/driving, most motorcyclists and motorists routinely accelerate beyond the limit in order to decisively pass and complete their manoeuvre in the shortest possible time.

But you can definitely get nicked for it, and we know of a few instances when it's happened.



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