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Speed camera lottery

Many drivers think carefully about minimising their motoring costs, taking into account such things as road tax, insurance, vehicle purchase price and depreciation. One cost that is harder to account for is that of speeding fines, incurred after being flashed by a speed camera.

Many drivers think carefully about minimising their motoring costs, taking into account such things as road tax, insurance, vehicle purchase price and depreciation. One cost that is harder to account for is that of speeding fines, incurred after being flashed by a speed camera. Clearly all drivers know that speeding is wrong but what fewer drivers may know is that where they live could have a dramatic impact on how much they have to pay for their speeding fines and even whether they have to appear in court. Now a study has shown that a 'postcode' lottery exists when it comes to speeding fines.
Insurance company LV based a study on the results of numerous Freedom of Information requests, which showed startling variations across the country. Overall, the number of drivers receiving fixed penalty notices was reduced by 6% in 2012 but the LV study showed that there was a contrasting 10% rise in court summons. At the top end of the scale, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire each took 17% of speeding drivers to court, while the City of London was close behind with 15%. At the bottom of the range, West Mercia brought 5% of offenders before the beaks, with Suffolk and Kent close behind on 6%.

These figures are important for drivers because court appearances impact the severity of fines. Whereas the fine for a fixed penalty notice is a standard £60, the average fine levied in court for speeding offences is £165. This is because the court takes into account the nature of the offence and also the defendant's ability to pay. These factors can result in steeper fines, especially for more well off drivers. There are guidelines for the police to follow when considering whether to bring a speeding driver before the courts. These are issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers and suggest that any motorist doing 50mph in a 30mph zone or over 95mph on a motorway should face a court appearance.

A spokeswoman commenting on behalf of a law firm specialising in motoring cases said: "There are cases we have come across where drivers who we would have expected to be taken to court have just been offered fixed penalty notices, such as driving on a motorway. Police forces do have a certain amount of discretion on whether to prosecute or just offer a penalty or speed awareness course and perhaps this is reflected in the figures. It could just be an issue of the extent to which motorists themselves accept the allegation of speed or choose to challenge it in the courts."

 

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