Just been given a speeding ticket? Recombu Cars gives you the lowdown on what will happen next, how much it will cost and how you can apply for a speed awareness course.
With all the good will in the world, there will come a day for most drivers when they are caught speeding. Our roads are littered with speed cameras and cars are faster than they ever have been. Figures show more than 1.2 million attended speed awareness courses in 2015 so you're by no means alone.
So what happens when you are caught? How will it affect you, how much will the fine cost and how far over the speed limit gives you the option of a speed awareness course? Recombu Cars answers these questions and more.
I think I was caught speeding – what happens next?
A rather nervous wait while you try to work out if the camera that flashed was working is the first thing, followed by a letter from the local police force that caught you speeding. How long after the event can vary – around a fortnight or more is likely, at which point you will be told how fast you were going, the speed limit, and where the incident happened. Proof you were driving at the time should be available; the way to see this information may vary between police forces, but is typically available online.
What options do I have?
This depends on how fast you were going. Those who qualify for a speed awareness course will have three options. Option one is to attend a National Speed Awareness Scheme course. Option two is to pay a fixed penalty of £100 and take the three-point endorsement on your licence. Option three is to elect a court hearing where you can contest the evidence. In court, you could be given a larger fine and a greater number of penalty points.
What speeds give me the option of a speed awareness course?
You have to meet two criteria to be applicable for a speed awareness course. First, you need to have not been caught speeding in the past three years and secondly be caught within guidelines set by each police force, as advised by the Association of Chief Police Officers. This is normally between two figures: 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2 mph and 10 percent over teh speed limit plus 9mph.
So in a 20mph zone, that makes the threshold 24mph and 31mph. In a 30mph zone, the threshold is 35mph to 42mph, while in a 70mph that becomes 79mph to 86mph. But the offer of a speed awareness course is discretionary, so someone who speeds outside a school at 3:15pm is going to be punished whereas someone who does the same at 3am may see a level of discretion.
What if I was going too fast for the speed awareness course?
At ridiculous speeds, where the driver is 20mph beyond the limit or more, you may end up with three to six points and a larger fine between £100 and £1,000 or up to £2,500 if caught on a motorway (the figure is means tested so it depends on your earnings). A court appearance is also likely.
What if I was really, really speeding?
Beyond 100mph on a motorway or 30mph above the speed limit, the minimum punishment becomes disqualification for between seven and 56 days, but could be up to 120 days. Reach 12 points in three years and the ban is six months, rising to 12 months if you get a second disqualification within three years. This becomes two years if you get a third disqualification.
Do I have to do the speed awareness course?
It is an option and one that will cost around the same as the initial fine, except you will avoid three points being added to your licence in exhange for around four hours of your time. It must be booked within 28 days of when the letter offering of a speed awareness course was dated. Given that 12 points could see you banned from driving, it is usually better to take the course.
How do I book one?
In the case of one provider (AA DriveTech UK), you may have to ring up to get a special number before going online to book or simply complete the booking on the phone. All you need is your driving licence number found on your driving licence photo card. Booking on the phone will require payment so have your payment card handy, too.
Can I change the date when booked?
If for whatever reason you are unable to attend your booked course, you should call the provider to discuss moving it. An extra £3-odd can be paid to allow you to change the date and or time slot without any extra charges.
Can I book a course somewhere different from where I got the ticket?
A list of potential providers and the counties should be provided in the letter that offers the option of a speed awareness course. Your best bet is to ring up a provider in your county and ask for the nearest centre and they will use your postcode to give you at least one option.
How much does a speed awareness course cost?
This varies from county to county. In Surrey it costs £95, while in Avon and Somerset it's £80, although the figure may vary from what is advertised on the National Speed Awareness Scheme document. So expect to part with £100 at worst and consider anything less than that a bonus.
Do I need to do anything after booking the speed awareness course?
Nope. Once paid for and booked in, the system will tell police what is going on so there's no need to inform any other entity of your decision. If you provide an email address, you will get a confirmation email so you know everything is sorted. A failed payment will be flagged up on the phone call or during online booking.
What if I go for three points instead?
You will have to pay the fee and three points will be added to your driving licence. Besides costing an initial fine, you may find your insurance premium increases because you are deemed more likely to claim. Around 10 to 12 per cent more likely, according to AA statistics.
How long do the points stay on my driving licence?
A minimum of four years and a maximum of eleven, depending on the driving conviction. In the case of speeding, it is four years. Rack up 12 points over three years and you face licence disqualification.
What happens if I fail to book a speed awareness course?
The offer becomes invalid and you will lose the option of a speed awareness course and have to pay the original fine. Or you may get a court hearing where things are likely to get costly. Those who miss the deadline because of 'extenuating circumstances' could potentially ask the Safer Roads team to extend the deadline, but the reason needs to be more watertight than: "I lost the letter down the back of the sofa."
Do I need to tell my insurer if I was on a speed awareness course?
Because taking a speed awareness course means the police don't record your speeding offence as a conviction, you don't have to disclose details to an insurer as they will usually only ask if you have any motoring convictions or prosecutions. But if an insurer asks specifically about attending a speed awareness course, failing to inform them could invalidate your insurance. Some insurers may hike up your premium significantly as they see the fact you were caught speeding.
What happens at a speed awareness course?
You will be invited to test your Highway Code knowledge. There will also be a talk that aims to open your eyes to the dangers of speeding, but done so without making you feel like a criminal or patronised. That's the plan, anyway. There's no test or driving element, but police will expect you to provide a positive contribution to the talks. It will be over and done with in 4.5 hours (half a working day) so take it on the chin, learn something and take it steadier next time. Be sure to bring proof of ID to the start of the course, be that a passport or driving licence, as it will be asked of you before the course begins.