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UK Speed Limits – What To Do If You’re Charged With An Offence?

If you have broken UK speed limits and are charged with a speeding offence, you have several options. You can accept a fixed penalty notice, attend a speed awareness course if this is offered, or go to Court to challenge the charge or submit an appeal. The options available to you will depend on your previous driving record, the seriousness of the alleged offence, and whether any other mitigating circumstances need to be taken into consideration.

Read on for more information on each of the options you have when you face a charge for breaking UK speed limits including the fines involved, the defence options available to you, and when you might need the help of a solicitor.

What Are The Speed Limits In The UK?

In the UK, there are different speed limits for different types of vehicles. The speed limits for the most common types of vehicles are:

  • Cars, motorcycles, and vans: 30 mph in built-up areas with street lighting, 60 mph on single carriageways outside of built-up areas, 70 mph on dual carriageways and motorways.
  • Goods vehicles weighing over 7.5 tonnes: 30 mph in built-up areas with street lighting, 50 mph on single carriageways outside of built-up areas, 60 mph on dual carriageways, and 70 mph on motorways.
  • Buses and coaches: 30 mph in built-up areas with street lighting, 50 mph on single carriageways outside of built-up areas, 60 mph on dual carriageways, and 70 mph on motorways.
  • Towing vehicles: The same speed limits as cars, but with additional restrictions on the maximum weight that can be towed and the use of certain lanes on motorways.

Exceeding the speed limit can result in fines, points on your driving licence, and potentially disqualification from driving.

Speeding Statistics In The UK

A speeding offence is one of the most common motoring offences in the UK. In 2021 the government reported that 51% of drivers exceeded a 30mph speed limit, 48% exceeded motorway speed limits and 11% exceeded national speed limits. That means that more than half of the motorists on the roads committed a speeding offence in 2021.

A survey was conducted in 2021 on the reasons for motorists speeding. One of the most common reason cited was following the speed of other road users and driving with the general flow of traffic around – cited by over 33% of motorists. The second most common reason cited was that the speed limit is not appropriate for the road.

No matter what the reason for a speeding offence being committed, if you have exceeded the speed limit, then you are guilty, but there may be mitigating circumstances that can help you reduce the penalty imposed, or avoid it all together!

Caddick Davies Can Help

If you are facing penalty points, and/or disqualification from driving due to a speeding offence, the team at Caddick Davies Solicitors can help. We can defend the matter, secure the most lenient sentence possible, or even help you to avoid the penalty entirely if mitigating circumstances can be proven.

We are a motoring law specialist firm whose solicitors can give honest advice and guidance to help you to secure the most successful outcome possible when facing driving charges as well as identify and successfully argue your defence. As we only deal with motoring law cases day in and day out, if you have a defence, we will find it.

We can help by preparing your case for court by taking statements and advising on the appropriate evidence you will need to argue your case. We will also represent you at court and assist you in arguing your case.

What Penalties Will I Face For Speeding?

What Penalties Will I Face For Speeding

The penalty for a speeding offence range from 3 penalty points on your driving licence and a £100 fine, to a disqualification from driving.

If you have been charged with a speeding offence then it’s natural to be concerned about how the penalty will impact your life, or the lives of those around you, but the penalty that you will face will entirely depend upon the speed limit of the road, and how far above the speed limit that you were travelling.

Additionally, if the court feel that you have driven ‘grossly in excess’ of the speed limit, then the disqualification could be even longer. Whilst there is no guidance as to what constitutes ‘grossly’ in excess of the speed limit, if this court consider this, then you could be facing a disqualification of up to 6 months.

Speeding penalties are divided into 3 categories:

Category 1 Category 2 Category 3
3 penalty points. 4-6 penalty points OR a disqualification from driving between 7-28 days 6 penalty points OR a disqualification from driving between 7-56 days.

Speeding Categories Explained

Category 1 Speeding Offences

If you fall into category 1, the police will try to resolve the case without going to court and will offer you a ‘conditional offer of fixed penalty’ for 3 penalty points and £100. You can accept this offer without going to court by completing the form, paying the fine and in due course the points will appear on your licence.

There are also situations where you may be able to take a speed awareness course and obtain no penalty points for the offence. If you do not accept the offer, the matter will proceed to court.

This is nothing to worry about, and the penalty points that you receive will be the same but you may be required to pay increased financial penalties, which is why it is important to try and resolve these matters at the early stage with police.

Category 2 & 3 Speeding Offences

If you fall within category 2 or 3, then the matter will likely proceed to court.

In addition to the endorsement on your driving record, you will also receive the below fines:

  1. A fine – This will be calculated based on your income. This will typically be between 25% and 175% of your net weekly income (dependent upon the speed). You will also receive a reduction in the fine of up to 33% if you plead guilty straight away!
  2. Prosecution costs – The court will also impose costs against you that have been claimed by the police or the prosecution where preparation was required in taking the case to court.
  3. Victim surcharge – The court will also impose a victim surcharge, which is 40% of the fine imposed and is automatically added as a penalty for any offence before the court.

When You May Need The Help Of A Solicitor

If you need to challenge a totting up ban, submit mitigation, special reasons, or exceptional hardship applications, then you are advised to use the services of an experienced motor defence solicitor to stand the best chance of keeping your licence.

Totting Up

If you receive too many points on your driving licence then you may be subject to a ‘totting up’ disqualification. Penalty points stay on your driving licence for 3 years from the date of the offence, and the upper limit of points that you can have on your licence at any one time is 11.

If you exceed this with 12 points or more in a 3 year period, then you are at risk of a lengthy driving disqualification. This disqualification is for 6 months but can also be for longer if you have been disqualified for more than 56 days in the past 3 years.

A solicitor can help you to avoid being disqualified from totting up if they can convince the court not to impose a disqualification. To do this, mitigation as to why your licence is important to you will need to be presented. This is called an ‘exceptional hardship’ application.

Exceptional Hardship Applications

For the court to grant ‘exceptional hardship’, they will need to consider that the consequences of disqualification are ‘exceptional’. They need to be convinced that these matters go beyond matters of inconvenience or difficulty.

If the court believes that disqualification would result in difficulty or inconvenience, then a disqualification will still be imposed because a ‘totting up’ disqualification is intended to cause difficulty and inconvenience as it is a punishment for consistency breaching UK driving laws.

If however the court can be persuaded that the consequences of disqualification go beyond difficulty and inconvenience, then it is upon that basis that they can find ‘exceptional hardship’ and allow you to keep your driving licence. When making this decision, The Court will consider the impact a driving disqualification will have on other people, as well as yourself.

If you are successful with an ‘exceptional hardship’ application, then you will need to be careful moving forward as this application can only be made on 1 occasion within a 3-year period – unless you run the application on different grounds. This is often a very difficult application to make, and it can be difficult to find strong enough reasons a 2nd time round.

Special Reasons

Even if you have committed a speeding offence, if there are mitigating circumstances that caused you to speed, you may be able to avoid penalty points all together.

The court have the power to impose no penalty for an offence if there are ‘special reasons’ for doing so. An application for ‘special reasons’ is usually most appropriate in circumstances where an offence may have been committed on a technical basis, but there may be significant mitigation to be considered in connection with a lack of intent to commit the offence, little or no harm caused, or less moral culpability associated with the offence.

A special reason must be:

  • A mitigating or extenuating circumstance and;
  • Must directly related to the commission of the offence and;
  • Must not amount to a defence in law and;
  • The circumstances are something that the court should consider before imposing a penalty.

There are a number of reasons why the court may not impose penalty points or a disqualification due to ‘special reasons’, such as:

  • Driving in an emergency.
  • Rushing to go to the toilet if you have a genuine medical condition.

Reasons Courts May Not Impose A Driving Disqualification

Reasons Courts May Not Impose A Driving Disqualification

Typical reasons for why the court may not impose a disqualification are:

  1. Risk of losing your job.
  2. Loss of income resulting in inability to pay household bills.
  3. Unable to provide care to an elderly and/or disabled friend or family member.
  4. Impact on your physical health if you need your driving licence for mobility purposes.
  5. Impact on your mental health if there is evidence of previous mental health issues.
  6. Unable to take your children to and from school.
  7. If you own your own business, risk of the business closing down and employees losing their jobs.
  8. Impact on your ability to do charity work.

You will need supporting evidence to back up your argument such as letters from those who would be affected.

Defending Speeding Charges

If you were not the driver of the vehicle but have been charged with a speeding offence then you may be able to submit a defence to the charge on that basis.

If you were the driver of the vehicle but are adamant that you were not speeding or that the speed limit was not what the police say it was, you may be able to defend the charge on this basis too. This is a more technical defence that is put forward in court and may require an expert report to test the accuracy and reliability of the camera. If you had any passengers in your vehicle then it may be suitable for them to be witnesses and give evidence in court.

Plea Deal

If you were stopped by police for speeding and they have followed you in their car to detect your speed, you may be able to negotiate with the prosecution to reduce the speed and therefore the penalty that you face. Especially if the police have not followed correct procedures or have not used a calibrated device to monitor your speed. This may also be grounds for a defence if there is insufficient evidence.

Speeding Offences FAQs

Do I Need A Solicitor When Faced With Speeding Charges?

The simple answer to this question is no. You do not need to have a solicitor to represent you in court. You can attend on your own and explain your circumstances to the court. However, if your licence is important to you and if you do wish to present an argument in court, you will be more likely to achieve the desired outcome if you have a legal representative. A lack of experience and understanding of the law could unfortunately result in a negative outcome.

When you contact us, we will provide you with a very honest assessment of your case. If we do not think you need a solicitor we will tell you. We are not in the business of taking peoples hard earned money unless we believe we can help.

We cannot provide a guarantee of an outcome and it would be unprofessional of us to do so. However, we are experts in this area, and we will be able to guide you through the entire process and help build your case to give it the best possible chances of success.

How Can I be Charged with A Speeding Offence?

You can be charged with a speeding offence following the below events:

  1. Being stopped by the police shortly after the incident and being identified by the police as the driver.
  2. Receiving a request for drivers’ information from police and thereafter nominating yourself as the driver of the vehicle.

If you receive a request for drivers information, it is very important that you respond – even if it was not you driving. You will need to provide as much detail as possible as to who the driver was in order to avoid further prosecution for an offence of ‘failing to provide drivers information’. If you are charged with this then you face 6 penalty points and a fine up to £1000.

Can I Take A Driving Course If Caught Speeding?

Can I Take A Driving Course If Caught Speeding

Yes, in some circumstances you may be able to take a speed awareness course.

The eligibility for taking a course is:

  1. The driver is the holder of a full UK driving licence.
  2. The course can be taken up and completed within 4 months from the date of the offence.
  3. The driver has not taken part in the course within the previous 3 years.
  4. The driver falls in the speed threshold of between 10%+2mph to 10%+9mph (e.g. for 30mph, the minimum speed is 35mph and the maximum speed is 42mph).

Even if you meet the above requirements, it is still discretionary for the police to offer. We can assist by writing to them in advance, seeking to convince them to offer the Couse where you are eligible.

The courses usually last around half a day and cost approximately £100. They can be done in person and online.

If you are offered a course, it is always our advice to accept it as this means that you will not receive an endorsement of penalty points on your driving licence. However, you should not agree to attend on a course unless you accept that you have committed the offence.

Can I Appeal A Decision?

If you have accepted a conditional offer of fixed penalty, then you cannot appeal or have the decision reversed.

However, if you receive a sentence in the Magistrates Court then you can either:

  1. Apply to have the case re-opened and re-heard in the Magistrates Court.
  2. Appeal to the Crown Court within 21 days of sentence to have the conviction and/or sentence re-considered.
  3. If you were unaware of proceedings, submit a ‘statutory declaration’ within 21 days to have the case re-opened.

It’s worth noting that not all sentences are worth appealing. Please contact us for more information and advice specific to your case.


You should now have a good understanding of the options available to you if you are charged with a speeding offence in the UK. To recap, if you are charged with a speeding offence in the UK, you have several options:

  • Accept the fixed penalty notice: This is the simplest option and involves accepting the penalty notice and paying the fine. This will result in points on your driving licence and a fine.
  • Go to court: If you believe that you have been wrongly accused or that there were mitigating circumstances, you can choose to contest the charge in court. This may involve hiring a solicitor to represent you.
  • Attend a speed awareness course: If you are offered a speed awareness course, you can choose to attend this instead of accepting the fixed penalty notice. This will involve attending a course to learn about safe driving practices and avoiding future speeding offences.
  • Appeal the decision: If you feel that the decision was unjust or that there were extenuating circumstances, you can appeal the decision through the court system.

It’s important to note that the options available to you will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, so it’s important to seek legal advice if you are unsure about what to do.

At Caddick Davies Solicitors, we have a reputation for success when it comes to defending motorists charged with driving offences. We work with clients all over the UK and are rated in the top 20 law firms on TrustPilot.

From the simplest to the most complex of cases, we are here to help. We start every enquiry with an informal discussion to get a clear understanding of your circumstances and are here to answer any questions that you may have in confidence. Please get in touch to discuss your case with our friendly team today.


Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies

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