Three things you need to know about being caught speeding

There’s lots of misinformation about what happens when you’re caught speeding and how you can get away with it if you have a good defence. Let’s have a quick look at the basics of what happens when you’re caught speeding in England and Wales and what you can do if it happens to you.

How fast do you have to be going to get a ticket?

Legally, you’re liable for a fine or prosecution as soon as you’re over the limit – 21mph in a 20mph zone – but this hardly ever happens. This would mean the police were busy with drivers just over the limit and drivers would be more concerned about their speedometers than watching the road.

Furthermore, speedometers and speed cameras aren’t always accurate so someone could be driving along in good faith thinking they’re doing 39mph in a 40mph zone but actually be doing 41mph.

For these reasons, the police normally allow drivers to be 10% over the speed limit plus an additional 2mph for calibration errors. So, you can do 24mph in a 20mph zone and escape prosecution. This is a guide though, and if you’re driving erratically at 24mph, you may not get away with it.

How can I get caught?

Average speed cameras

These uses a series of CCTV cameras mounted at intervals above the road to look at vehicle registrations as they pass. These cameras work out an average between neighbouring cameras – if you’re over the limit, the registered keeper will received notification by post within 14 days.

Mobile speed cameras

These are manned by police officers with laser devices and are often coupled with video which produces a record of the alleged offence. Unless the driver is stopped at the time of the alleged offence and a verbal NIP given at the roadside, a written NIP must be sent within 14 days of the alleged offence.

Sensors in the road

Some speed cameras use sensors in the road – strips which are connected to a camera which takes a photo of any vehicle that passes by both strips too quickly.

Real, live police officers

You could be pulled over by a police officer, although they’ll have to have evidence of your speed, which may be from their own speedometer. Just the officer’s opinion alone will normally be insufficient and should be corroborated by some other means of measuring speed.

What about the speed awareness course?

Most police forces offer a speed awareness course as an alternative to points, but you’ll pay for it yourself and it’s offered only if the speed is below a certain level and a course hasn’t been attended within the three years prior to the offence.