What can I do If I have been caught driving well above the speed limit?
If you have been caught driving well in excess of the speed limit there are certain things that you can do to minimise the length of a ban and in certain circumstances avoid a driving ban altogether.
As a lawyer specialising in the defence of road traffic prosecutions the enquiries I most commonly receive go something like this:
‘I have been caught speeding at 100 (plus) mph. Can I avoid a ban?’
The Bad News
Before we go too much further there are some things you need to know, there will be consequences.
- Penalties for speeding include fines and either the endorsement of your driving licence with penalty points (3-6) or disqualification
- Your insurance premiums over the next few years may well increase (by a significant margin if you are banned)
- Penalty points will be added to any other points endorsed for offences committed within 3 years of each other; if the total reaches 12 or more, you will be liable for a ‘totting’ disqualification of a minimum of 6 months (unless you can establish ‘exceptional hardship’ in which case there is a discretion not to disqualify)
The Good News
By doing the following you may be able to mitigate the offence so as to avoid, or, at least, minimise the length of a ban
- Indication of an early ‘Guilty’ plea helps to establish remorse
- Set out your mitigation carefully (first in relation to the offence and then in relation to your personal background)
- Where possible obtain independent evidence (that you can show the court) in support of your mitigation
- Consider taking a driving course to establish that you have learned lessons in advance of your sentencing hearing (there are short courses available aimed at changing attitudes to speeding). Production of a certificate to prove you have undertaken such a course can be beneficial.
Here are some commonly encountered don’ts that do not usually go down well with the court
- Obtaining a reference from someone (who was not present at the time of the commission of the offence) that says you did not speed deliberately – (a sure way to annoy the court and, in any event, speeding without realising it can be worse than doing so deliberately as it shows lack of awareness)
- Claiming that you are a skilful driver who had full control of the vehicle – (this tends to make the court feel you do not appreciate the gravity of the matter)
- Claiming that your top of the range marque is so advanced it can be stopped more quickly than other ordinary cars – (don’t be taken for someone who thinks the law does not apply to him)
- Complaining of the consequences of being banned, for example, that you will have to take public transport (the court may retort, ‘that is why we ban people’!)
For any lawyer who does not specialise in defending road traffic cases advancing mitigation in a speeding case can be a minefield of ‘dos and don’ts’. I frequently find myself explaining to clients why some points, which they would like put before the court, will only aggravate their situation. The best results are obtained by assessing all the facts, taking ‘on the chin’ those points which cannot be avoided, and, skilfully and persuasively making the most of the mitigation that is present. In this way, even when speeding at over 100 mph, surprisingly good results can often be obtained.
Sunil Rupasinha (specialist road traffic offence barrister)
(If you face a driving disqualification don’t hesitate to contact me to see how I can help.)