Speeding fines and penalties: Your complete guide

Getting a speeding ticket is an unpleasant experience. We show you how to avoid them in the first place and what to do should the worst happen.

  • Find out what the penalties are for speeding
  • What to do you if you get a fixed penalty notice
  • How long do points stay on your licence?

There is no escaping the fact that if you do not exceed the speed limit you will not be prosecuted for speeding. And we would never condone exceeding the speed limit. However, the reality is a little more complicated than that.

While there are undoubtedly drivers who deliberately speed on a regular basis, everyone is susceptible to a momentary lapse in concentration, poor signage or unusual circumstances that can lead to temporarily exceeding the speed limit. It may only be for a second or two, but that is potentially long enough to be caught.

It is therefore important to know what the laws are and what guidance the police forces are given.

What are the speeding laws?

Your Highway Code or the government’s own website will give you more details on speed limits depending on the type of road, but even travelling 1mph over the posted speed limit is technically an offence and you can be prosecuted for it, even if the reality is that this is unlikely.

Will I get a ticket for doing 35mph in a 30mph zone?

There is no definitive answer to this, because not only will it vary by constabulary, but it can also depend on the method of detection and how the guidance is applied.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) recommends that constabularies give a leeway of 10% + 2mph, but it is crucial to remember that this is only guidance, and it is entirely within the powers of the constabulary to decide how, or if at all, to apply this guidance.

At 30mph in a 30mph limit your chances of collecting a speeding ticket are virtually zero, but every 1mph increase in speed significantly increases your chances of being caught.

How much over 30mph is allowed in the UK?

The answer to this is zero. Even 1mph over the posted limit, regardless of whether it is a 20mph urban limit or 70mph on the motorway is, in the eyes of the law, an offence for which you can be prosecuted.

You may be tempted to creep a little bit over the limit but within the 10% guidance, yet the more you do this, the more likely you are to receive a ticket.

Travelling two miles at 30mph will take you four minutes; travel at 35mph and you save just 34 seconds over the same distance, yet your chances of receiving an expensive speeding ticket, points on your licence and a subsequent increase in insurance premiums skyrocket.

Is it really worth it to save so little time?

What are the penalties for speeding?

The minimum penalty for a speeding offence is a fine of £100 and three penalty points added to your licence. The majority of speeding offences fall within this category, and you will be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). This will either be in the post if you were caught by a camera, or by an officer if you were stopped out on the road.

You may also be offered a speed awareness course as an alternative to a fine and points. These usually cost around the same as the fine, but no penalty points are added to your licence and you do not need to declare this to your insurance company. You may be reluctant to choose this option, but they can be highly informative and have far fewer downsides than the alternative, especially as now they can be undertaken online.

If you reply to the FPN and plead guilty, your points will be added to your licence and you will be given instructions on how to pay the fine. Your insurer may also need to be informed immediately if you have received points on your licence, but this varies between insurance companies, so check your terms and conditions. Regardless, you will need to inform your insurer at renewal time if you have not done so already as this represents a change in circumstances.

What if I plead not guilty to a fixed penalty notice?

If you ignore a FPN or choose to plead not guilty, you will have to go to court. This may still result in three points and a fine, but the amount of the fine is calculated by the amount you exceeded the speed limit by and your weekly income after income tax and National Insurance. It is also important to note that these are guidelines, and magistrates can fine you 25% either way of the suggested figure, although the figure is capped at £1,000 and £2,500 on motorways.

Posted speed limit Recorded speed band A Recorded speed band B Recorded speed band C
20 21-20 31-40 41+
30 31-40 41-50 51+
40 41-55 56-65 66+
50  51-65 66-75 76+
60 61-80 81-90 91+
70 71-90 91-100 101+
Points / disqualification Three points

Four to six points or seven to 28 days disqualified

Six points or seven to 56 days disqualified
Fine 50% of weekly income 100% of weekly income 150% of weekly income

Sentencing guidelines also stipulate aggravating and mitigating factors that can affect the outcome of sentencing.

Aggravating factors

Offence committed on licence or post sentence supervision; poor road or weather conditions; driving an LGV HGV, PSV; towing a caravan or trailer; carrying passengers or a heavy load; driving for hire or reward; evidence of unacceptable standard of driving over and above speed; location such as school; high level of traffic or pedestrians in the vicinity.

Aggravating factors can mean your fine is classified in bands D, E or F, and in band F the starting point is 600% of weekly income up to 700% of weekly income.

Mitigating factors

No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions; good character and exemplary conduct; genuine emergency established.

How long do points stay on your licence?

Endorsement points or disqualifications for speeding stay on your licence for four years, at which point they are automatically removed from your record by the DVLA.

After the four years, you are entitled to say you have no points on your licence (if otherwise clean), but it is important to note than insurance companies will generally ask you if you have had any endorsements in the previous five years. So although your licence is technically endorsement-free, you must declare them or risk invalidating your policy.

What happens if I am not given a fixed penalty notice?

If you have committed a serious speeding offence in band B or C, you may be required to attend court to face prosecution rather than being given an FPN.

You will be given the opportunity to plead guilty or otherwise, and although you will be given the opportunity to speak to the duty solicitor, you may wish to consider arranging your own legal representation.

You will also be given the opportunity to give any mitigating circumstances, including at the time of the offence and also the impact that fines or disqualification may have on you, your family or your career. You may also wish to provide character references if you feel this will help your defence.

Magistrates also have the power to apply a disqualification in excess of 56 days if you are considered to have been driving “grossly in excess of the speed limit”. This is not clearly defined, but if you are significantly above the band C starting point, this may come into effect.

The court also has the power to impose extra conditions on completion of your disqualification period, including resitting your driving test or taking an extended driving test.

What if I am not guilty of speeding?

If you believe you were not guilty of speeding – either because there were extreme mitigating circumstances, you were not speeding and can prove it, you believe there was an administrative error or that there were missing or incorrect road signs – you can respond to the FPN or at the court that you are not guilty.

However, it is important to bear in mind that you must have solid evidence in your defence, as if your appeal fails you will likely receive a harsher penalty than if you have pleaded guilty from the outset.