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Reports of serious speeding offences during lockdown

View profile for Paul Loughlin
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Reports of serious speeding offences during lockdown

As the roads are quieter with less people travelling to work and following government advice to stay home, it would be reasonable to expect a significant fall in the number of speeding offences. Looking at previous annual figures they still remain at just over approximately half of the typical monthly average in Greater Manchester at over 6,000 since lockdown began. In the main the police force have said it is the minority that are committing the more serious offences. However, there have been instances of a driver doing 115mph on a 40mph road and one reaching speeds of 129mph on the M62.

Drivers will still face legal proceedings during the COVID-19 pandemic if they are found to be breaking the speed limit with cameras still operational and police cracking down. The penalties a driver will face as a result of speeding varying according to several factors:

How far over the speed limit they are travelling

Speeding offences can often be dealt with by way of fixed penalties, however, if the speed is too excessive, the matter cannot be dealt with in that way. The higher the speed, the more chance there is that the matter will have to proceed to the court process. Once the matter is considered by the court, they are bound by the Magistrates’ Court sentencing guidelines. The higher the speed, the more chance there will be of a ban being imposed instead of penalty points. The highest ban for a single speeding offence is usually 56 days however the court always have discretion to impose a higher ban. The highest number of points that can be imposed is 6. There is no discretion for the court to impose more than 6 penalty points for a single speeding offence. The court cannot impose points as well as a ban for a single offence. It is one or the other.

If they have points on their license already – a ban under the ‘totting up’ provisions

Once 12 penalty points are accumulated on a driving licence the offender is liable for a six month ban pursuant to the totting up provisions. In such circumstances, the court may order than a ban should not be imposed if they are persuaded that an exceptional hardship will be caused as a result of the ban.

How long they have held their license for

If 6 penalty points are imposed on a driving licence within the first two years of having passed their full driving test then the DVLA will automatically revoke the licence to the extent that they will have to re-sit both the theory and practical elements of the driving test before they can drive again.

Mitigating circumstances

Whilst it is true that the court will consider the speed recorded as the main factor in determining sentence, the sentencing guidelines also guide the court to consider surrounding factors about both the offence and the offender. If the area where the offence happened was a built up area as opposed to an area with no traffic or surrounding infrastructure (open road with nothing either side, for example) then the court would likely consider that to have more ‘aggravating factors’ to persuade them that the penalty should be more severe. The circumstances of the offence should also be considered. Whilst there can be no justification or excuse for speeding in law (in the absence of a genuine life or death immediate risk) the background to the offence and why it might have been committed can be an important factor in helping the court contextualise the offence.

Overall, the fact that roads are quieter and people may want to get back in doors quicker given the current climate will not persuade any court not to impose a penalty as directed by the sentencing guidelines. It is just as important as ever to ensure safe driving and quieter roads cannot be used as an excuse for failing to.

Notwithstanding all of this, the police still have to ensure that both speeds are accurately recorded and that processes are accurately followed in order to ensure that allegations can be legitimately progressed. It is important to take expect advice, whether it be to consider the legitimacy of the prosecution or consider how to best present your case to try to avoid the worst possible outcome. Our motoring offence specialists are still available to deal with your case and can be contacted initially on 0161 696 6229.