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Challenging Speed Camera Offences
If you have been caught speeding by a speed camera or handheld device, you may be able to defend against a conviction with the help of the expert driving offences team at JMW. We will do everything within our power to protect and preserve your driving licence.
Speed camera is a term used to describe various pieces of equipment that can be used remotely on their own or be operated by police and civilian workers to determine whether a vehicle is keeping to the speed limit. Examples include:
- Gatso camera, which emits radar beams to measure the speed of a passing car
- Speed violation detection deterrent (SVDD), which the SPECS system is based upon and uses a state of the art video system alongside automatic number plate reading (ANPR) technology
- Truvelo camera, which uses piezo sensors to monitor the speed of passing vehicles and can take photos of the driver at the time of the speeding offence
- Visual average speed computer and recorder (VASCAR), which is used to calculate the speed of a moving vehicle
- Pilot speed detection device, which is similar to a VASCAR and measures time taken to travel over a predetermined destination
With speed camera use increasing throughout the UK, including average speed (time over distance) cameras that monitor a long stretch of road or a contained area, it is becoming increasingly common for a motorist who is driving safely and reasonably to be ‘flashed’ as his vehicle passes one of the roadside machines.
However, not all speeding offences brought to the courts can be justified by the authorities and there can be grounds for defence against conviction, including challenging the manner of the recording of the speed.
To obtain a conviction, the police, as represented by the Crown Prosecution Service in court, must prove a number of aspects of the incident to show that the vehicle was speeding at the alleged time and place. These include:
- The camera being approved by the Secretary of State for Transport
- The camera operating correctly on the day of the offence
- The stretch of road being monitored has a certain speed limit
- The make, registration number and speed of the vehicle identified
- The identity of the driver
In some camera offence cases that have been successfully challenged, the police have failed to comply with one or more of the actions needed in the above list, such as the camera not working properly, the vehicle being mistaken or the driver not being known.
Following an apparent speed camera offence, the police have 14 days in which to send a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) to the registered keeper of the vehicle. This is usually sent by standard post and if it fails to arrive in time, the case may not proceed. However, if the prosecution procedures have been correctly followed, a defence based on that alone may not succeed.
As part of the NIP, the registered keeper will be asked to name who was driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence. The penalty for failing to give the information is a fine and three points on the keeper’s licence.
Before a court hearing, the defendant is entitled to see copies of all of the evidence, such as photographs and video recordings, which will be used by the prosecution to prove its case. There are two defences available if you are unable to provide information about the driver:
- Reasonable diligence, which is where the vehicle keeper has been reasonably diligent in trying to discover the identity of the driver
- Absence, which is when the keeper is away for more than the statutory 28 days
If a car is registered to a company and a responsible officer of the company fails to provide information about a driver alleged to have been speeding, the company could be convicted and fined for failing to provide information, but the responsible party would not be convicted if they can prove to have taken reasonable steps to identify the driver.
Although roadside GATSO machines are the most common means of drivers being caught exceeding a speed limit, police in patrol cars and on foot can use other speed-measuring devices. If you were stopped by officers at the time of such an incident and they issued a verbal NIP, the police have six months within which to send the necessary paperwork.
If you are offered a fixed penalty for the offence, you do not have to attend a court hearing and will have to pay a minimum fine of £60 with three penalty points on your licence. You may need to go to court if the alleged offence is deemed serious or if you already have points on your licence that might render you liable to disqualification under totting-up.
Points for offences, such as speeding, remain on a licence for four years from the date of the offence. Twelve points within three years will result in a minimum six-month ban unless there are particular mitigating circumstances.
If you either choose to appear in court or are ordered to do so, the magistrates will decide on the level of fine and number of points imposed. An award of costs may also be made against an unsuccessful defendant.
With camera offences becoming more common, and the consequent risk of disqualification through totting-up, it is important to take advice from a specialist motoring solicitor if you are faced with an NIP that you wish to challenge.
Don't be caught out by a failure to understand the law, the time limits, the availability of a statutory defence, or by a lack of awareness of other entirely legitimate challenges to the speed camera procedure. JMW’s team of expert motoring solicitors have extensive knowledge on UK driving laws and can help you defend against an accusation of speeding.