Issues such as type approval of Home Office speed detection devices may seem to offer open shut defences to these allegations. Even if they do, the fact that magistrates prefer dealing with factual points rather than legal points can mean that defences based on a legal or technical basis can be viewed with scepticism in the Magistrates Court.
To combat this, it is often necessary to call expert evidence, and make specific reference to both legal and procedural documents, and good practice guides. Of particular use can be the ACPO (Association of Chief Police Officers) Code of Practice for the Operational use of Enforcement Equipment. It is the police rule book for how evidence should be obtained for these offences, including information on set-up of speed trap location, correct use of different devices and methods.
Do I need a speeding solicitor?
If avoiding a potential ban is important then representing yourself in a speeding case is nearly always a bad idea.
The law is not complicated, but the sad reality is that in many cases the court legal adviser and the prosecution club together to put you at a disadvantage. The unfamiliar territory means that even the most sophisticated of defendants often find themselves marginalised and disrespected in court.
Having someone there who knows the protocol, exactly what to say, and what mistakes to avoid can be a real advantage.
Disqualifications for these offences of course vary, depending on speed. For certain speeds, the magistrates will consider awarding points, although these lower speeds will often result in fixed penalties being awarded, meaning 3 points and a fine with no need to go to court if the driver admits the offence.
For higher speeds (usually where the speed is 40% over the speed limit), the magistrates can, and often will impose a ban, starting at 14 days, up to a usual maximum of 56 days or above for the very highest speeds.
The magistrates also have the option of imposing up to six points as an alternative, and often will if this will result in the defendant having a total of 12 or more points, as this can lead to a mandatory 6-month ban. In this situation, a ban can only usually be avoided if the defendant can either challenge the prosecution or show exceptional hardship.
For offences where well over 100mph is recorded, the prosecution might try to charge the defendant with Dangerous Driving. These higher speeds must be considered by the defence speeding solicitor in detail. It has been known for highly skilled professional drivers to challenge dangerous driving charges at these high speeds, notably where one defendant was himself an advanced driver who himself trained police drivers.
Is a ban avoidable?
Even for high speeds, a ban can often be avoided or reduced to a period of just a few weeks if the right mitigation is forwarded, even if a guilty plea has been entered. For these purposes, a speeding solicitor is usually advisable, depending on how important the licence is. Good mitigation will include evidence relating to the character of the client, and also to other people who will suffer if he/she loses his/her licence.