Ask Question of the Week:

David Ross, EditorFri, 07 Jun 2024

Dear Honest John,

“I was caught speeding at 37 mph on the A40 in London, where the speed limit changes from 40mph to 30mph. I was driving in the outside lane around midnight. The 30mph speed limit sign on the central barrier next to my lane was graffitied over and obscured. I did not see the 30mph sign on the left due to a vehicle blocking my view.

I assumed the speed limit was still 40mph based on the obscured sign and previous signs. TFL Streetcare has photo evidence that the 30mph sign was graffitied/obscured before my alleged offensc. TFL confirmed in writing that this sign is frequently targeted by vandals.

I have a completely clean driving record and drive extremely cautiously with limiters on. I would have absolutely slowed to 30mph if the signage was legible. I was offered a £100 speeding awareness course, which is difficult for me as a PhD student on a stipend. Given the obscured signage, my driving record, and willingness to follow limits, I am considering pleading not guilty.”

– SM

Dear SM,

Assuming you have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution, you have the option to reject the offer of a speed awareness course or points and a fine, in which case you would be summoned to appear in court. Common grounds for defending a NIP are that you were not the driver at the time, the details on the NIP are incorrect or that the signage was missing or incorrect.

It is possible that you could challenge the fine, but you would need to represent yourself in magistrate’s court which would require adequate preparation to gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. You may have a better chance of success if you seek independent legal advice, but this would also incur additional costs.

There are no guarantees that you would be successful – approximately 50% of appeals result in the NIP being overturned – and if the challenge was rejected you would lose the opportunity to take a speed awareness course. It is also possible that you would be issued with a fine larger than that which was proposed on the original NIP as well as penalty points, which would also have a knock-on effect on your insurance premiums.

Ultimately it is a matter of taking a balanced view on the likelihood of overturning the NIP and the potential outcomes if you are unsuccessful, versus the known outcomes of a speed awareness course which will likely be cheaper than the fine, leave no points on your licence and not affect your insurance premiums.

Ask HJ

How do average speed cameras work?

Can average speed cameras calculate the speed of a vehicle which joins between two paired cameras and only passes one camera?

Average speed cameras calculate a vehicle’s average speed between different camera locations so you would need to pass more than one camera.

Answered by Sarah Tooze

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