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Speeding Offences

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The offence of speeding is outlined in Section 89 Road Traffic Regulations Act 1984.

In essence, the prosecution have to prove that a person drove a motor vehicle on a road at a speed exceeding the limit.

People often get confused about the manner in which a speed limit is imposed.

Quite often a defendant will raise the issue that there were no signs on the road indicating a restricted speed limit.

Section 81 of the same act indicates that a road is limited to 30 mph limit (even when there are not signs in place) when there is in place a system of street lighting furnished by means of lamps placed not more that 200 yards apart. This means that if you are driving on a road where there are no specific speed limit signs and there is a system of street lighting in place and street lamps are no more than 200 yards apart, the road is automatically restricted and the speed limit is 30 mph. Therefore, if you get a Notice of Intended Prosecution warning you that you are going to be prosecuted for exceeding the speed limit and you believe there were no specific signs in place then you need to check whether or not there was a system of street lighting in place. If so, the limit is lawful.

If there is no system of street lighting in place then the road can only be restricted to a particular limit by specific signs. The requirements for speed restriction signs are set out in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002.

The traffic signs must comply with those directions in terms of the visibility, size, shape and colour. They must also be positioned at regular intervals throughout the speed limit and within set distances of junctions.

If the signs do not comply with these directions then the speed limit is not lawful and cannot be enforced.

Sentences - for speeding

Speeding carries 3 to 6 penalty points and if it is a particularly high speed then the Court can consider imposing a discretionary ban under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act.

Normally any discretionary ban imposed by the Magistrates will be up to a maximum of 56 days but Section 34, Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 states the period of any discretionary disqualification can be for whatever period the Magistrates feel is appropriate.

Discretionary disqualifications are normally used as a short sharp shock.

Defences against speeding allegations

Speeding allegations can be defended on the basis that it was not you driving at the time of the alleged offence or on the basis that the evidence put forward by the Prosecution is unreliable. In theory, a speeding offence could also be defended on the basis that you were not driving on a public road at the time of the alleged offence or that you were not driving a motor vehicle.

These are all technical defences and if you have any questions in relation to the way in which these defences can be raised then please ask us.

The Prosecution have to prove the allegation against you beyond reasonable doubt. In order to defend this allegation you have to cast a doubt.

One of the most common ways of defending speeding allegations is by showing that the speed detection device has not been used in accordance with the ACPO codes of practice. (Association of Chief Police Officers)

In order for the Prosecution to rely on the evidence from a speed detection device, they have to show that the device was being used in accordance with Home Office Approval. The Home Office Approval involves the device being tested by ACPO TET.

ACPO TET then set down the criteria for use. If the device is not used in accordance with that criteria then it is not being used in accordance with the Home Office Approval and the evidence must be treated as unreliable.


It is important to note that a person cannot be convicted of a speeding offence on the uncorroborated opinion evidence of a Police Officer. The procedure required is that a Police Officer forms the opinion that a vehicle is speeding and then uses a device to corroborate his opinion. The devices commonly used include hand held laser guns, VASCAR device (which measures distance and time) located in a Police vehicle that effectively conducts a follow check. A calibrated speedometer can be used again by means of using a follow check. A further method of detecting speed can be the GATSO camera, which is a static box camera, located at the side of the road, which operates on the basis of a radar that measures distance and time.

All these devices are subject to stringent calibration requirements and have to be used in accordance with Home Office approval for the evidence obtained from them to be treated as reliable.

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