Contest a Speeding Fine / Speeding Ticket
- What are my options for an alleged speeding offence?
- Can I contest or challenge a speeding fine?
- What defences are available?
- Am I innocent until proven guilty?
- How do I run a technical defence?
- How do I know the equipment used to measure my speed is accurate?
- I did not receive the Notice of Intended Prosecution within 14 days.
Can the Police still proceed?
- The Police have misquoted the details. Does this invalidate the speeding ticket?
- What if the Police stopped me at the scene but did not caution me?
- What if the Police did not give me a producer at the scene?
- I was told that it unlikely any further action would be taken and now I have received a Summons/Postal Requisition. Can the Police still proceed?
- I didn't receive my Court Summons/Postal Requisition within 6 months. Is the prosecution valid?
- What if I do not believe the Police followed the correct ACPO Guidelines?
- Can I contest my case without attending Court?
- When should I seek legal advice?
The first issue is whether you accept that you were above the speed limit. If so, you can either accept the allegation in full or alternatively, you can argue the exact speed alleged. Whilst either option will result in a guilty plea, the latter, known as a Newton Hearing, allows you to dispute the exact speed with a view to obtaining a reduced punishment.
If you deny breaking the speed limit, then your only option is to plead not guilty via a Court hearing.
Yes. Your options are to contest the speed itself (whilst conceding that you are travelling too quickly) or to deny the allegation in its entirety. Either tactic will require Court proceedings and in all probability a full hearing at which you will have to attend or be represented.
There are various defences, ranging from "it wasn't me driving" to "I didn't break the speed limit" or "the Police can't prove that I was going that fast". In addition there may be technical defences that arise if the Police fail to follow the correct procedure when bringing the case.
Whilst the presumption of innocence until proven guilty holds true, and thus it is for the prosecution to prove their case, the fact is that unless you challenge the allegations or evidence, they will be assumed to be correct.
Firstly, you need to review the procedural issues. For example:
- Are the documents correct?
- Have they been served in time?
- Are there are any errors or discrepancies that can be used to dismiss the case?
Even if it is apparent that some errors have been made, do not proceed on the basis that the case will be instantly dismissed. The rules do allow for amendments to be made so be prepared to show that any such amendments would be fatal to the prosecution and highly prejudicial to the case proceeding.
You can challenge the accuracy of equipment used but this will require a Court hearing and the onus will be on you to put the prosecution on notice of the issues that you intend to take and to seek disclosure of all documentation that you require. For example, if you do not ask for a calibration certificate, it will not be produced. The Police do not have to prove that the device was working perfectly at the time of the incident. It will be assumed that it was working correctly, unless you have put the prosecution on notice of issues that you intend to take.
If you are not stopped at the scene of the incident, the obligation upon the Police is to serve a Notice of Intended Prosecution on the registered keeper of the vehicle within 14 days. The Notice has to be sent to arrive within that period of time. If it is not received, but the Police can prove that it was sent and should have arrived, they may still be able to proceed. If you are uncertain whether a Notice is valid, you should seek advice before replying.
If the Notice has been given to you at the scene, and thus you are fully aware of the circumstances of the allegation, minor errors, for example spelling mistakes, will not prevent a prosecution. However, some errors are regarded as so fundamental that they will prevent a case proceeding. Typical examples are if the location detailed is completely incorrect and some distance from the exact place at which the offence is alleged to have occurred. In order to challenge a case along these lines, the Defendant needs to establish that it is practically impossible to relate a Notice to the incident itself.
The Police do not have to give an exact recital of the recommended caution. All the Police have to do is warn you at the scene that action will be taken. Consequently, a comment along the lines of "I will be reporting this and you will hear from us" or "this will go to Court" or even something as vague as "you're nicked" can be accepted as a caution and adequate warning that a prosecution will be commenced.
There is no obligation for the Police to give you any paperwork at the time of the offence. Nowadays, most documents can be checked at the roadside, thus avoiding the need for a producer to be issued or for the driver to take documents to the Police Station.
I was told that it unlikely any further action would be taken and now I have received a Summons/Postal Requisition. Can the Police still proceed?
Yes. The decision to prosecute is not made by the officer, but by his superiors/the CPS. Whilst an officer may express an opinion at the scene, this is not binding in any way.
The Police have 6 months from the date of the offence to commence proceedings. This means that they have to file their papers within that period. There is no obligation for you to receive the Summons/Postal Requisition (Citation in Scotland) within 6 months and indeed, the Court will issue papers outside of that deadline if the file has been received in time. The Court will always confirm the date papers were received from the Police, i.e. Date Information Laid, so if you are in any doubt about the validity of the papers, check this date.
Failure to comply with the guidelines does not always prevent a case proceeding. Although the guidelines set out a code of conduct and a recommended method in dealing with such offences, as long as the officer complies with the law, adherence to the "guidelines" is not mandatory.
If you plead not guilty, the case will proceed to a full hearing unless the Police can be persuaded to abandon the matter in advance of that. In certain circumstances, you may be able to avoid going to Court personally if you have a legal representative present in your absence. However, if you are required to give evidence to confirm your version of events, you will have to be present.
If you have any doubts about the process or need advice by way of mitigation or challenging an offence, the sooner you obtain advice the better.