Driving In Britain

What should you do if you are stopped for speeding?

Nowadays many speeding penalties are incurred without the driver being stopped at all; you may have no prior knowledge until the Notice of Intended Prosecution arrives in the post. Nevertheless, the police still can and do stop speeding drivers.

What do the police do after pulling you over?

Much depends on your recorded speed. There are ACPO guidelines which determine whether you will end up with a speed awareness course or a fixed penalty, or be prosecuted through the court. Prosecution becomes a virtual certainty if, for example, you were exceeding 50 mph in a 30 mph limit.

What happens next?

If the police intend to go ahead with a prosecution, they will tell you so, and take your details. You will be asked for your driving licence, which can be handed over on the spot or produced at a police station within seven days.

Is it a good idea to deny guilt to the police?

If you are certain that you were not speeding, you should say so politely but firmly. What you say will be part of the evidence produced in court if you decide to contest a speeding charge, so you need to make your position clear straight away.

In what circumstances is it best to admit guilt?

If you know you were speeding and do not intend to contest the case, there may be nothing to be gained by denying it. However you never know whether or not a technical breach of the procedures might offer a chance to get away with it, so it is usually best to admit nothing. Police officers sometimes ask drivers to estimate the speed they were doing, and this really is a question to which there is no good answer; a polite refusal to give that information before discussing it with a legal representative may be the best course of action.

What about mitigating circumstances?

As a general rule, it is easier to explain hospital dashes and other urgent appointments to magistrates than to police officers, so if you intend to use this type of defence, mention it, but try to keep the conversation short and accept the ticket.

What discretion do the police have?

It is still possible for police officers to issue a warning rather than issuing a ticket, but their discretion has a lot to do with the road conditions at the time of the offence; how heavy the traffic was, lighting conditions, pedestrians and so on. In other words, if they stop your car, they may already have decided on their course of action. Nevertheless, you have nothing to lose by being polite and respectful.

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