Currently reading: UK speeding fines and penalties: what drivers need to know
A guide to everything you need to know about speeding, from fines to the cameras the police use
8 mins read
17 September 2021

There was a time when fixed and average speed cameras didn’t exist, and the most likely way of accruing endorsements (now better known as penalty points) on your licence was to miss seeing the local policeman pointing a ‘speed gun’ at your car as you edged above the posted limit. Those days have long since passed, and the rise in digital technology now means that drivers are faced with a plethora of different roadside devices.

How can I be caught speeding?

There are a variety of different speed-detecting technologies on British roads today. Here are the most common.


All speed cameras have to be coloured bright yellow by law and the Truvelo is no exception. Most commonly mounted on a pole at the side of a single or dual carriageway, the Truvelo uses a front-facing camera to record your speed, backed up by a matrix of small squares painted on the road. (Secondary evidence of speed is required with all fixed-position cameras.) While images of motorcycle numberplates can be tricky to capture, due to their lack of front registrations, the Truvelo can identify drivers of other vehicles, adding a further layer of evidence if a prosecution is disputed. More recently, a Truvelo D-Cam has been launched for motorway applications, with front- and rear-facing capabilities.


The name that most of us are familiar with, the Gatso first graced our road scene in 1991 and is a rear-facing camera, meaning that it records your vehicle after it’s passed the camera unit, with two images taken in quick succession. Like the Travelo, the images are supported by secondary evidence of speed provided by painted ‘dashes’ on the road surface. These dashes may be found on both sides of the road next to the camera, but the Gatso will only record your speed in the direction in which it is facing.


SPECS (average speed check cameras and speed enforcement) units measure your speed over a set distance, via two banks of cameras. Most commonly found through roadworks, or where there is a lower than normal speed limit, they use automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) to identify vehicles. As you pass the first set of cameras, your vehicle’s details are recorded, and if your average speed before reaching the second cameras is above a set threshold, a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) will be automatically generated. (See below.)


The catchily named Highways Agency Digital Enforcement Camera System 3, or HADECS 3 for short, is most commonly found on smart motorways, mounted on the overhead gantries that carry variable speed limit alerts. The camera’s limited use of yellow cladding and the fact that it is a fraction of a Gatso/Travelo’s size mean that it can be easily missed, especially if you’re travelling at 70mph. HADECS 3 is rear facing, and once again it uses painted dashes on the road as secondary evidence of a vehicle’s speed. It also adapts to posted, mandatory speed limits that can vary depending on road conditions.

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Mobile speed camera units

It’s not uncommon for the police to monitor vehicle speeds at known accident hotspots using mobile units – quite literally, vehicles with miniature Gatso cameras pointing through their rear windows. These are often found parked in laybys or above dual-carriageway or motorway bridges and have a range of up to one mile. The police also have access to handheld radar- and laser-controlled devices that can be used at a variety of locations.

How will I know if I’ve been caught speeding?

If you’ve been caught speeding with a hand-held device, or one installed in a moving police car, you could be asked to stop there and then. In this case, the police have two options: they can either give you a verbal warning and send you on your way, or they can issue you with a fixed penalty notice (FPN). But if you’ve been caught speeding by a remote device, the registered keeper of the vehicle will receive a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) and section 172 notice by post within 14 days of the offence. The section 172 notice then has to be returned within 28 days, providing details of the driver who committed the offence. A fixed penalty notice (FPN) will then be issued to the driver, or if the offence is deemed serious enough, a court summons.

What kind of penalty can I expect?

If you receive an FPN, you can either plead guilty or not guilty to the offence, with each decision triggering its own process. A guilty plea will generally carry a fixed £100 fine and three points added to your licence. Depending upon where you were caught speeding, there will be different ways to pay the fine, which can be found here.

However, you may be offered the option of paying instead for a speed awareness course (typically costing a similar amount to the fine itself), which will avoid the addition of points to your licence. Certain caveats exist, though. The police will decide if it’s appropriate to your offence (so it tends to be offered for more minor transgressions). And it will only be offered if you’ve not been on such a course in the past three years. It’s also worth noting that not all police authorities run speed awareness courses, so this option is by no means a given.

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The situation becomes more complex if you plead not guilty, though. Of course, if you’re convinced of your innocence, then it’s the right and proper course of action and it will probably involve a trip to court. But if you lose your case, you could be fined more and receive more penalty points.

Excess speed bands and your weekly income make up the fine

In 2017, the speeding penalty system was overhauled, with larger fines for drivers charged with excessive speed. If you are prosecuted in court, the amount you are fined and number of points you receive (or the disqualification period) will firstly be determined by the speed you were travelling over the posted limit, as shown here.

But as you can see from the last line, the actual fine is ‘personalised’ depending on your average gross weekly income.

For example, based on a driver earning the UK average income (2020-21) of £29,600:

Speeding at 81-90mph in a 60mph zone = £428-£713 fine plus 4-6 penalty points

Speeding at 66mph+ in a 40mph zone = £713-£998 fine plus 6 penalty points

There are a further three bands (D, E and F) that deal with more extreme transgressions, which may include excessive speed where the driver is: on bail; has existing convictions; in charge of a large vehicle; heavy load; towing; carrying passengers; driving through a heavily pedestrianised area.

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It’s also worth noting that if you’ve only held a full driving licence for less than two years, it will be revoked if you reach six or more penalty points.

On the upside, mitigating factors, such as it being a first offence, or being of ‘good character’, may help reduce the fine and penalty. The court may even take into account speeding for a genuine emergency.

Either way, under any circumstances, there is a £1000 fine cap for all speeding offences, apart from those committed on motorways, where it increases to £2500.

How many points do I need before I lose my licence?

Even less serious speeding offences can cause you to lose your licence. If you accrue 12 or more penalty points in a three year period – potentially four minimum-fine/points offences – you could end up with a six-month ban. And this could have further repercussions. If you’re disqualified for 56 days or more (see also the more serious single-offence bans, above) you’ll need to apply for a new licence, and this may even entail retaking your driving test.

How will speeding penalties affect my car insurance?

Insurers will generally regard drivers who’ve accrued penalty points for any offence – including speeding – as a higher risk and will likely impose a higher premium as a result. While penalty points for speeding are generally only valid for three years as far as totting up endorsements and a potential ban goes, they remain visible on your licence for four years. Most insurance companies will ask you to declare any motoring offences in the past five years, and if you withhold information, it could affect a future claim, so it’s important to be honest when searching for new quotes.

Top 10 speeding trivia

Would you be surprised if we told you that the world’s first speeding fine was issued in the UK? Well, it was. Driving his new Benz, Walter Arnold was nabbed at four times the national speed limit in Paddock Wood, Kent. That the limit was just 2mph and the year, 1896, explains a lot. To make matters worse for Arnold, he was reprimanded for not having a red flag waver walking in front of him, too.

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And from one extreme to another… The UK’s fastest speeder was caught in 2015 travelling at 192mph in a Nissan GTR. A 28-month custodial sentence followed and Northamptonshire police banned him from driving for 10 years.

But you don’t need anything exotic to get your collar felt. In 2003, an off-duty policeman was caught driving his unmarked Vauxhall Vectra at 159mph on the M54.

It wouldn’t have been as much as the hapless Swiss driver had to shell out, though, after he hit 85mph in a 50mph zone driving his Ferrari Testarossa. Swiss authorities base fines on your financial worth, and with £14.1 million in the bank, this driver ended up with a £180,000 ticket.

But that was nothing compared with another Swiss millionaire who managed 180mph on local roads in his Mercedes-AMG SLS and set a new speeding fine world record at $1,001,400 (£727,166).

Both the above would have got away with it if they’d come to the Isle of Man, where no speed limits apply (although dangerous/careless driving is still an offence, as is breaching local speed limits through built-up areas). Other speed-limit-free havens are Germany’s autobahns (for now) and Australia’s Northern Territories.

But not Dubai. Driving a rented Lamborghini Huracán, a British tourist managed to trigger 33 speed cameras while joyriding through its downtown area, generating $48,000 (£34,847) in speeding fines, before fleeing the country and leaving the rental company to sort out the mess.

If you live near Bristol, though, it takes only one speed camera to extract mega-sums in fines. A camera positioned on the city’s M32 motorway captures on average 50 speeding drivers each day, and over a three-year period relieved them of £5.7m.

Showing slightly more lenience, Poland has the highest speed limits in Europe, at 140km/h (87mph), and in the US, Texas’s Highway 130 allows 85mph before fines are imposed. But the world’s highest speed limit is 160km/h, or, tantalisingly, 99.4mph, in the UAE.

But like it or not, speed cameras in the UK are now part of our motoring life, and with 7000 of them positioned around the country, only Russia, Italy and Brazil have more on their roads.


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Yedar 18 September 2021

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Peter Cavellini 17 September 2021

Driving standards have been going down for years, you name it I ve seen it!, under passing on motorways, using roundabouts to pass slower inside lane traffic going the same direction, speeding?, yeah, some see it as a challenge,it seems to some that a twenty limit is a forty limit and so on, and as for the road going F1 drivers, the only thing that'll make them think twice is?....take there licence off them for five years,and, put there pride and joy through the crusher, might save a few, might.

Deputy 17 September 2021

I recently had to do a course as a cop with a camera tracked me (high performance motorbike) doing 40 on a 40 dual carriageway then I accelerated slightly too early as it became a 60 and I have the video of me doing 47mph for 1 second before the 60 sign!!!  OK, I did go above 40 but the other driver who nearly swerved into me 100metres later whilst texting gets nothing!