Have you recently been caught out by a speed camera? This article provides an easy-to-understand guide on what to expect, what to do and when to do it.
It happens to most of us eventually. You’re driving along, minding your own business and not really aware of how fast you’re travelling. All of a sudden, there’s a flash in your rear-view mirror and you realise that you’ve been busted by a speed camera.
The UK is filled with speed cameras these days as a substitute for actual policing; from the traditional yellow Gatso devices to more advanced units, and now an ever-increasing number of average speed cameras that monitor your speed over a distance of several miles. They first started sppearing at major roadworks sites, but now they seem to be popping up all over the country.
What many drivers don’t realise is that there is a formal process that the police must follow when you are flashed by a speed camera. This process is both to maintain your rights and to minimise errors by the police in making a valid prosecution if you have been speeding.
Timing: When do you receive a speed camera fine?
One of your first concerns after triggering the dreaded speed camera flash is probably the cost of any fine. Don’t worry about that for now.
Firstly, the police have 14 days in which to serve the registered keeper of the vehicle with a ‘notice of intended prosecution’ (NIP), which sets out the details of the alleged offence.
Study the NIP closely and make sure you abide by any conditions and timescales given. If the police haven’t sent you a NIP within 14 days, you may have escaped prosecution. However…
If you are running a leased car, you are not the registered keeper. The penalty notice will be sent to the leasing company, who will then have to advise the police that you were in posession of the car. That means it could take a few weeks for the NIP to reach you.
Along with the NIP, you will receive a form called a Section 172 notice that asks for confirmation of who was driving the car. You need to complete this by declaring that you were the driver of the car at the time of the offence, or you dob in whoever was driving. You have 28 days to fill in the form and return it.
Assuming that you have confirmed that it was you who was speeding, you will probably receive a fixed penalty notice (FPN) unless you were driving well in excess of the speed limit. The FPN gives you a choice of pleading guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, you’ll to pay the fine. If you plead not guilty, your case will usually proceed to a court hearing.
If you’re going to court, you should seek legal advice. We’re not qualified to help you with that.
Cost: How much will your fine be?
The minimum penalty for a speed camera offence is £100 and three points on your licence. But that’s only the minimum.
Updated laws came into effect in April 2017 that have made things a lot more complicated over the last four years. Fines are now graded according to both the level of speeding and your weekly salary. These fines were bumped up again in 2021.
Speeding penalties are now classified into three bands:
- Band A for minor excesses (for example, up to 40mph in a 30mph zone)
- Band B for moderate excesses (for example, up to 50mph in a 30mph zone)
- Band C for major excesses (for example, more than 50mph in a 30mph zone)
Instead of fixed penalties based on your speed, the system now also takes your earnings into account, using the following formula:
- Band A: 50% of your weekly salary, plus 3 penalty points
- Band B: 150% of your weekly salary, plus 4-6 penalty points or disqualification for up to 28 days
- Band C: 150% of your weekly salary, plus 6 penalty points or disqualification for up to 56 days
There is also some flexibility (plus or minus 25%) in the fine, based on other circumstances. Speeding around a school or busy pedestrian area will probably get your fine bumped up, whereas a similar speed on a deserted road in the middle of nowhere may get you a bit of leniency.
Points: Speed camera offences and penalty points
In addition to the cash penalty, you will normally receive between three and six penalty points, depending on the offence (see above). Anything above six penalty points will almost certainly be heard in court, due to the severity of the offence.
Penalty points are valid on your licence for three years from the date of the offence, or if your case is heard in court, from the date of your conviction. However, you may only apply for the endorsement to be removed from your licence completely after four years.
Most insurers don’t penalise for three penalty points. However, if you receive further endorsements within three years, you’re likely to see a significant rise in your car insurance premium.