Speeding in Scotland

Speeding in Scotland

Speeding in Scotland incurs a minimum endorsement of 3 penalty points and a fine of up to £2,500. If you collect 12 or more penalty points within 3 years you face instant disqualification under the “totting-up” provisions for a minimum period of 6 months.

This is our particular area of expertise. We have successfully defended speeding cases nationwide and have provided advice and representation in relation to thousands of alleged speeding offences throughout Scotland. Whether you have read about our cases in the press or been recommended by a friend, Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited are recognised throughout Scotland and beyond as being true experts in this field.

Below you can find all the relevant information about speeding in Scotland including: Speed detection devices; Average speed cameras; Speeding on the M74; Speed awareness courses; and the most Frequently Asked Questions. If you can’t find the answer to your question below, call for free legal advice or use the Contact Us facility to get in touch.

We are proud to boast that we have successfully defended speeding cases in Scotland that have involved every single type of speed measurement device that Police Scotland currently deploy.

From VASCAR to the Unipar SL700, the LTI 20-20 to the Prolaser III, we continue to secure acquittals in speeding prosecutions throughout Scotland.

Any piece of technology can fail all by itself or with some help from an inept operator.

The Firm has successfully defended hundreds of speeding prosecutions based on evidence obtained from a Unipar SL700.

Some common examples have included:

  • Failure to properly perform the necessary accuracy checks;
  • Lack of training and qualifications to operate device;
  • Out of date calibration certificates;
  • Improper usage of the Unipar at the time of detection.

We always seek to reserve the nature of our defences as short-term publicity will endanger our current and future client base. Such discretion however has been sadly lacking throughout the rest of the legal profession and a speeding trial in Scotland is now an entirely different prospect than it was ten years ago.

There was a time, in certain jurisdictions in Scotland, where Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited could virtually guarantee an acquittal for speeding prosecutions. Of course, we never would offer such a guarantee however it is important to note that the standard of prosecution for speeding offences in Scotland has dramatically improved over the last decade. A number of factors have contributed to this however the only important point to note is that the Crown are generally much better informed and capable when conducting speeding trials.

We continue to secure acquittals for clients charged with speeding on a weekly basis. These cases can still be successfully challenged and the Crown continue to make mistakes and fail to state their case to the required standard.

It is our reputation that ensures we continue to represent clients charged with speeding in every imaginable jurisdiction in Scotland and that we secure results in a professional and discreet manner.

Our selection of testimonials provides a brief snapshot of our recent successes and should give a flavour of the level of expertise you should expect from Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited.

We opened our Dumfries branch office in 2012 to deal with the increasing number of speeding and other road traffic related cases dealt with by Dumfries and Lanark Justice of the Peace Courts.

The M74 has long been a hotspot for generating speeding prosecutions and Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited are very well placed to provide advice and representation for any speeding offence originating from Dumfries and Galloway. Our Dumfries office is situated directly across from Dumfries Sheriff Court and we are always happy to offer free advice over the telephone or arrange a consultation to discuss matters directly. Our local knowledge of Dumfries and Lanark Justice of the Peace Court will ensure the advice you receive is accurate and specific to the jurisdiction within which your speeding case or other road traffic charge is being prosecuted.

We are increasingly receiving formal instruction to defend speeding cases from individuals who, whilst not at risk of disqualification, consider the possible avoidance of a further three penalty points on a driving licence as a worthwhile expense. This is typically true of the high mileage driver with six live penalty points who does not relish the prospect of driving whilst subject to nine points. Please see our section on totting-up and exceptional hardship if you are already in this precarious position.

We have even represented an individual who had been flashed by four separate cameras in the space of six minutes.

Unfortunately this is not as unusual as one would hope. In the event you have received a number of road traffic offence citations within a short period of time, do not despair: seek our expert road traffic advice at the earliest juncture to maximise the prospects of retaining your driving licence.

What can the Court Do?

A conviction for speeding in Scotland can lead to:

  • the imposition of three to six penalty points.
  • The Court also retains the power to disqualify, on a discretionary basis, in circumstances where the alleged speed is deemed to be so grossly excessive.

Historically, District Courts within Scotland did not have the power to disqualify although a shake up of the system means that this has all changed. Unless the alleged speed is so excessive that it is within the realms of dangerous driving, it is most likely that your speeding prosecution will take place in one of the various Justice of the Peace Courts within Scotland.

The vast majority of speeding cases that we defend involve individuals at risk of disqualification, either by virtue of the totting-up provisions or as a result of grossly excessive speed. As a very general rule of thumb, if you have received a citation for speeding in Scotland detailing speeds of 30mph in excess of the relevant limit then a period of disqualification will be within the Court’s contemplation. Please be aware that the percentage over the speed limit is also a consideration for the Court. We have successfully defended cases involving alleged speeds over 120mph. We have also secured acquittals where the alleged speed is in excess of the applicable speed limit by over 100%.

Whether you opt to defend your speeding charge or tender a plea of guilty will largely be guided by your prior endorsement history and the level of speed libelled within the complaint. Sentencing policy in Scotland now dictates that the level of endorsement or length of disqualification can be discounted in cases where an early plea of guilty has been entered. This discount in sentence can often be crucial and our specialist knowledge of how each different jurisdiction treats speeding offences can ensure your case is directed in a manner that ensures the best possible outcome is achieved.

If you have received a notice of intended prosecution or a formal Court citation for speeding in Scotland, it is imperative that expert representation is sought at the earliest possible juncture.

We are the chosen representatives for legal Firms all over the United Kingdom. We are regularly contacted to contribute opinions on television, press and radio in relation to matters of current interest in the field of Scottish road traffic law. We are online consultants for specialist websites, such as pepipoo.com which are dedicated to the finer points of speeding trials, and an invited member of the Association of Motoring Offence Lawyers.

The dreaded Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) is often the first indication that you are about to face proceedings for a road traffic offence. The rules are complicated and often misunderstood in terms of their application. The correct legal position is that Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 requires that for certain offences either a warning must have been issued at the time of the alleged offence of the possibility of prosecution or that a notice, in these terms, is sent to the driver or registered keeper within 14 days. A Court summons will satisfy the Section 1 requirement although in practice it is very rare for the matter to be so expeditiously raised.

The requirement for a Notice of Intended Prosecution in Scotland extends to a variety of offences including:

    • speeding offences generally (including temporary minimum speed limits) – speeding offences on motorways, temporary speeding restrictions in association with road works
    • careless driving and aiding and abetting the commission of any of these offences.

 

It should be noted that Section 2(1) of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 specifically exempts the Crown from complying with the NIP requirements if, owing to the presence on a road of the vehicle in respect of which the offence was committed, an accident occurred at the time of the offence or immediately thereafter.

The issue of whether an accident has taken place thereby relieving the Crown of their obligation of notice is a legal point that has found itself in the Appeal Court in Edinburgh on a number of occasions. The facts and circumstances of each case require to be considered individually however it is clear that the definition of what constitutes an accident for the purposes of these provisions is rather widely construed by the Scottish Courts.

    • It is common practice to simply issue the warning verbally at the time of the alleged offence.
    • The service of a Court summons within 14 days will equally satisfy the warning requirements under these provisions.
    • Alternatively a Notice of Intended Prosecution can be sent by post. The legislation details with the various acceptable methods of service.

 

These are matters which should be meticulously checked as a failure to properly serve the NIP or issue the requisite warning can vitiate the whole proceedings. It should also be noted that the caution and charge, if administered by the Police at the time, is treated as equivalent to a sufficient warning of future proceedings.

Appropriate Warning Example

An inexperienced Police Officer who fails to issue an appropriate warning at the time of an alleged road traffic offence can prevent the Crown from seeking a conviction later in the proceedings if the case is formally prosecuted by the Crown. For example if you are caught speeding on the M74 at 120mph and the Police warn you that you are liable to be prosecuted for a mere speeding offence, the Crown are barred from seeking a conviction in relation to what would arguably be the more appropriate charge of dangerous driving under Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

These are technical arguments which are often overlooked or misunderstood by those less experienced in the field of road traffic law.

The Notice of Intended Prosecution, although issued in terms of Section 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, is often accompanied by a request to confirm the identity of the driver at the time it is alleged a road traffic offence has been committed. We are regularly presented with the scenario when there is a degree of dubiety attached to who was driving the vehicle at the time the alleged offence was detected. This can be common on long journeys when parties are sharing the driving or alternatively when there has been a chain of NIPs and a great deal of time has passed since the incident. This is exactly when you will need the help of a specialist road traffic lawyer in order to ensure you are kept on the right side of the law.

Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 provides for a specific defence in these circumstances, namely that a person shall not be guilty of such an offence, i.e. failing to furnish, if he does not know and could not with reasonable diligence have ascertained who the driver of the vehicle was at the relevant time. It is imperative that you seek sound advice from a reputable specialist motoring offence lawyer as the communications that take place with the Safety Camera Partnership will be logged and may be used in evidence in support of a prosecution under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Legal Advice from a Specialist in Road Traffic Defence in Scotland

We have developed significant expertise in this area and regularly guide our clients through the NIP procedure to ensure that they stay within the parameters of the road traffic legislation in Scotland. The statutory defence exists for a reason and at times it can feel that a great deal of pressure is being exerted by the authorities in order to get that simple admission regarding who was driving the vehicle. We always take the view that if there is a doubt attached to the identity of driver, further enquiry should be undertaken. In certain circumstances, the photographic evidence held by the Camera Partnership may assist with the identification process. It is worth bearing in mind that knowingly making a false admission in response to a request made under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 is an altogether more serious matter. The recent case involving Chris Huhne and Vicky Pryce should serve as a sufficient reminder that the Courts will not tolerate the deliberate circumvention of the provisions under s.172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

If you have received a notice of intended prosecution or received a warning that you are liable to be prosecuted for a road traffic offence in Scotland, then you should not hesitate to contact Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited. Written notices of intended prosecution tend to allow for a fourteen day period of grace and it is imperative that proper legal advice is sought at this early juncture.

Read about how we secured Celtic and Scotland Captain Scott Brown's acquittal: Dailyrecord.co.uk

Unipar SL700 laser speed meter

We regularly deal with speeding cases involving the Unipar SL700 laser speed meter. There was a time when Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited could virtually guarantee that prosecutions based upon a speed reading from a Unipar SL700 would fail however the Crown are now significantly more able at prosecuting this type of case. Clear guidance is now available for both prosecutors and defence lawyers alike and we shall attempt to cover the main points for this type of speed measurement device.

 

The purpose of our guide is to assist the general public to understand some important features of the Unipar SL700.

What is a Unipar SL700?

The Unipar SL700 is now the most commonly used speed detection device deployed by Police Scotland. The device is a laser based speed meter and has received full type approval in the UK to be used in connection with speeding prosecutions.

How does a Unipar SL700 work?

In contrast to radar devices which spread out a beam, the Unipar SL700 utilises a laser based system which allows for direct targeting of vehicles and other objects. The laser emits a series of pulses in rapid sequence which can used to calculate the speed of the target.

The Unipar SL700 operational range is up to 700 metres and is advertised as being accurate to +/-1mph.

The device has a Heads-Up Display (HUD) with an aiming dot to allow an operator to suitably identify a target. Once there has been a sound target acquisition, an audible beep will sound and the speed is simultaneously displayed on the HUD.

The Unipar SL700 recognises the direction of travel of a particular vehicle by denoting the speed of an approaching vehicle with a plus (+) sign and a vehicle travelling away from the device with a minus (-) sign.

How do I know that the Unipar SL700 is accurate?

It is always a matter for the prosecution in Scotland to prove the Unipar, or whatever speed measurement technique deployed, is accurate. The accuracy of a speed measurement is not a matter of presumption.

The accuracy of the Unipar can come from a number of sources and it is for the Court to assess the evidence as a whole to determine whether the Crown have managed to prove the device was working properly at the time of detection.

The Police should carry out a number of tests to ensure the Unipar device is accurately. The main tests relate to distance and alignment. For the device to measure speed correctly, it must be capable of measuring distance accurately. This range test is performed by placing the device in ‘Range Check Mode’ and firing the device between two fixed points. This test should be completed several times to ensure the operator can properly establish the accurate measurement of the reference distance.

The alignment test is undertaken simply to ensure the device is sighting properly, i.e. that the red aiming dot correlates to the object being targeted by the Unipar SL700. A thin targeting post should be used and the operator should pan on and off this target. The test should be repeated by testing both the vertical and horizontal alignment of the device. The horizontal alignment is checked by simply turning the Unipar SL700 through 90 degrees.

The annual calibration of the device is also another adminicle of evidence which can assist the Crown to prove the accuracy of the Unipar.

What can go wrong with the Unipar SL700?

Any piece of technology can fail all by itself or with some help from an inept operator. The Firm has successfully defended hundreds of speeding prosecutions based on evidence obtained from a Unipar SL700.

Some common examples have included:

  • Failure to properly perform the necessary accuracy checks;
  • Lack of training and qualifications to operate device;
  • Out of date calibration certificates;
  • Improper usage of the Unipar at the time of detection.

The Unipar should always be targeted directly at any moving object. If an object is targeted moving at an angle to the laser then this will have an effect on the accuracy of speed reading. This however will not assist any defence submissions on the basis that the error will always produce a speed reading lower than the actual speed. This variation is entirely to the benefit of the motorist and therefore why would it ever be raised by a competent road traffic defence lawyer.

Do I need a Solicitor to represent me if I wish to challenge a Unipar case?

You are under no obligation to instruct a Solicitor for a case of this nature. The difficulty however is that these cases often involve very technical evidence. It is not enough to turn up at Court with a news article from ten years ago which claims that Unipar speed meters produce speed readings when pointed at a flat wall. The task of properly conducting a speeding trial is rather more cerebral and skilled.

If a conviction for speeding could result in a period of disqualification, for example under the totting-up provisions, we would always advise legal representation is obtained. Don’t simply hand over your driving licence without a fight. You are entitled to rely upon the presumption of innocence and put the Crown to the test.

At Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited, we regularly defend motorists who have allegedly been travelling in excess of the speed limit and who have apparently been caught out by this device, but is the LTI 20:20 Ultralyte reliable?

Speed Camera Sign

Typically, the LTI 20:20 is contained within a van parked at the side of the road or on a bridge above the motorway. Inside the van there is ordinarily one operative (occasionally two), monitoring traffic. The range of this device puts the Police at a significant advantage and drivers will often only notice they have been speed checked when it is too late. It is important to note that the speed camera operative(s) should form a view that a vehicle is travelling at excessive speed before pulling the trigger on the LTI 20:20.

Below is a brief guide to the workings of this device.

What is the LTI 20:20?

The Ultralyte LTI 20:20 is a laser speed detection device utilised by Police Scotland and relied upon in Court in road traffic prosecutions. Speeding vehicles are ‘targeted’ by the operator of the device, the offending vehicle is captured on DVD or an SD Memory Card and thereafter a set of images is thereafter downloaded and lodged in Court as evidence.

How do I know if I have been caught by one of these devices?

You will generally become aware that you have been caught out by one of these cameras when you receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution.

With an LTI 20:20, you may also receive photographs containing a screenshot of your vehicle containing details such as time, date and alleged speed of your vehicle.

How does the LTI 20:20 work?

The LTI 20:20 is a laser device and allows for direct targeting of vehicles and other objects. A series of pulses are emitted in quick succession which is used to calculate the speed of the target.

The LTI 20:20 is deemed by the manufacturers to be accurate to a distance of up to 610 metres. At this distance, the beam of the laser is around 6 feet wide.

Is the LTI 20:20 accurate?

The LTI 20:20 has been criticised on many occasions for its apparent inaccuracies  – including tests carried out which recorded: a bicycle going at 66mph (actual speed 5mph); a parked car travelling at 22mph and finally, an empty road as whizzing by at a hearty 33mph.

As noted above, the extraordinary diameter of the beam (up to 6 feet wide) makes it more prone to ‘slippage’ where the beam could ‘accidentally’ record the speed of a vehicle other than the targeted vehicle.

Do the Police check that the device is working?

It will not come as any surprise that these devices are supposed to be checked at the beginning and end of each shift. There are a number of tests which ought be out carried by the operator. The main tests relate to distance and alignment.

As the device carries speed calculations based on distance divided by time, the device must accurately record the distance in order to accurately calculate the speed.

There are a number of other tests that the operator must carry out in order for any later prosecution to be successful.

If I have been caught on camera won’t I be convicted by the Court?

Michael Lyon Solicitors Limited continue to successfully defend hundreds of these cases each year. We know how to put the Crown case to the test and always aspire to find that reasonable doubt required to secure an acquittal for our clients. It is always important to remember the presumption of innocence and that it is for the Crown to do the running in these cases.

What can go wrong with for the Crown?

Technology is both a blessing and a curse for the Crown. An inept operator, lack of training, faulty technology and a combination of all three can lead to the demise of a prosecution and the acquittal of the motorist. The Firm has successfully defended hundreds of speeding prosecutions based on evidence obtained from the LTI 20:20.

Most commonly:

  • Improper and incomplete accuracy checks;
  • Lack of training and qualifications to operate device;
  • Out of date calibration certificates or lack thereof;
  • Improper usage of the device at the time of detection.

Do I need a Solicitor or can I defend myself?

Speeding cases can be complicated and highly technical. While it is perfectly acceptable to defend yourself, you are unlikely to defend yourself competently. Speeding carries a range of penalty points (3-6) and the Court can also order disqualification on particularly high speeds. The imposition of penalty points may lead to a disqualification under the ‘totting-up’ provisions.

In short, the services of a suitably qualified specialist road traffic lawyer could be the difference between walking and driving away from Court.

Our Track Record

Click on the button below to see examples of how we have successfully defended this offence over the last decade

Check Record

FAQS

You have been sent a notice of intended prosecution because you are either the registered keeper of a vehicle or have been nominated as the driver of a vehicle which is alleged to have committed an offence. You are required by law to disclose if you were the driver or whether someone else was driving and if so provide their details. A failure to comply with this requirement is an offence.
You are required by law to complete, sign and return the notice of intended prosecution within the requisite timeframe.
You can certainly request the photographic, assuming the offence was detected by camera. GATSO photographs will be of little use however as the cameras are mounted to face the rear of any offending vehicle. You should write to the Camera Partnership dealing with the alleged offence setting out the basis of your request. Typically it would be explained that the photographs are required to assist with the identification process. This may involve you having to visit the place where the detection is being processed.
If you do not respond within 28 days of the date of this notice you may be prosecuted for failing to provide information. The Safety Camera Partnership will often send a further notice with a stricter 7 day time limit upon the expiry of the initial 28 day period. Strictly speaking, the Crown would be entitled to prosecute if you do not complete the form within the requisite time period.
You will be liable to be prosecuted for an offence under s.172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. A failure to sign the notice of intended prosecution is a clear breach of the legislative provisions and this point has been authoritatively determined by the Scottish legal system.
No. These courses are only presently offered in England & Wales.
Not necessarily. If the alleged speed is high then the case may proceed directly to a court citation. Fixed penalties can only offer the minimum penalty prescribed by law and therefore more serious instances of speeding will be formally prosecuted in court.
Yes, and this is precisely where we can assist. We continue to secure acquittals throughout Scotland in speeding cases involving every type of speed measurement device presently deployed by Police Scotland.
Yes. Signage is a complicated issue which can often cause problems for the prosecution. Our lawyers have an advanced understanding of the regulations governing signage. Michael Lyon is an accredited consultant on the Road Traffic Offences and Disqualification section of The Stair Memorial Encyclopaedia which deals with, inter alia, signage requirements.
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