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I recently received a notice through the post regarding an incident where I was caught speeding by a traffic officer on a motorbike. The circumstances were that there were travellers going along an A road with horses pulling carts x 2. They always seem to do this at the busiest times.


I was feeling a bit sick (currently pregnant) got really fed up of being stuck behind them for miles and traffic queuing so decided to overtake. The road goes 50, 40 and then 30. Unfortunately when I overtook I was in the 30 zone. The road is not thy straight in previous places and there is oncoming traffic so I wanted to pass as quickly as possible whilst also leaving enough clearance in front of the horses. 

Fast forward a couple of days and I receive the documentation stating that due to my speed being 50 in a 30 that it was too much for a course or fixed so I am looking at 6 points and up to £1000 fine. 

I accept that you should keep within the speed limit even when overtaking. I just feel that the penalty here is rather unfair. I’ve sent the form back stating that I was the driver and I’m just waiting to receive the documentation where I can write back and plead guilt or not. 

I just wondered what others views were on this. As it was a mobile officer, he would have been aware that I was just quickly overtaking and not blatantly flouting the law. Just unlucky I think. Unfortunately the pics don’t show my manoeuvre as it’s been taken as just as I was back on the correct side of the road. 

Having just been made redundant and being pregnant this is the last thing I need. I was considering a casual delivery job after I finish at work and before the baby and now worried this may affect my reemployment.


Any guidance appreciated.  

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The officer can use their discretion looking at all the circumstances.


Perhaps they felt that:

a) overtaking, while

b) by doing 50 in a 30

means that the overtaking becomes an exacerbating factor and not an excuse.


It seems you expect leniency / think it is unfair, as you weren’t ‘flouting the law’


What circumstances do you feel are required for “50 in a 30” to become ‘flouting the law’?


You can elect for the case to be heard at magistrates court. You might think the factors you describe are mitigation.


The magistrates might agree, or might view them as exacerbating factors.


It could ‘read’ as “I deserve sympathy as I was unwell, and was trying to get past in an available gap” but more likely will be seen as


“I was unwell, so if anything, shouldn’t have been driving or been driving with more care, not less”

”I was overtaking horses, so if anything should have been driving less than the speed limit, not more, to avoid spooking them”

”30 in a 50” is unsafe : especially given the overtaking.”



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BazzaS, thanks for the reply. No not expecting sympathy, just giving the full picture of the circumstances around the event. I accept fully that I should have overtaken at an earlier point in the zone which had a higher limit.

What I was trying to get across is that I do not feel that someone briefly overtaking in a planned manoeuvre is as bad as someone speeding continuously down a road without due care. Just feel that in the circumstances, the penalty is rather harsh and really just after some sound advice about the best way to approach the matter when responding. 

Many thanks

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Well, you can

a) plead guilty, but you may not get to give your representations in mitigation in person, or

b) plead not guilty and have your case heard in person.


The risk is that option b) is unlikely to yield a ‘not guilty’, and may end up with a more harsh penalty.

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The guidelines suggesting how the police should deal with speeding matters are set by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and is invariably followed by all forces in England and Wales. It is here:


https://www.npcc.police.uk/2018 FOI/Operations/030 18 Speed Enforcement Guidance.pdf


You will see on page 8 a table. Unfortunately for you, 50mph is the speed at which a fixed penalty (FP) is no longer offered and court action begins. It is not unheard of for a FP to be offered at 50mph but it is unusual.


Since you have been told the matter is going to court, the next thing you will receive is a “Single Justice Procedure Notice” and this may take up to six months to arrive.


The police have six months in which to begin court proceedings and in many areas they take all of that. You will given three options:

(1) To plead guilty and have the matter heard by a Single Justice;

(2) To plead guilty and ask for a hearing in the normal Magistrates’ Court;

(3) Plead Not Guilty.


Obviously pleading Not Guilty is not an option for you (unless you fancy a very expensive day out).


So it really depends which of (1) or (2) you want to go for. The penalties will be the same: the sentencing guidelines and costs asked for are identical wherever the case is heard. The Magistrates’ sentencing guidelines are here:



Speeding (Revised 2017) – Sentencing (sentencingcouncil.org.uk)


Sentencing for speeding is quite prescriptive and it is unusual for there to be any mitigating circumstances which will cause the court to depart from the guidelines. The circumstances you describe are certainly not among them. You exceeded the limit by a considerable margin and from your description the court will simply assume you became impatient.


As bazza suggests, if anything, the action you took (to overtake horses at quite a speed) aggravates the offence. So the guidelines are almost certain to be followed.


This will see you pay a fine of a week’s net income, reduced by a third for your guilty plea (so 66% of a week’s income). You will also pay £85 in prosecution costs and a “Victim Surcharge” of 10% of the fine (subject to a minimum of £34). The guidelines suggest a short ban of up to 28 days or 4-6 points. The most likely outcome on that score is six points.


Where you have the matter dealt with is up to you. If you agree to the SJ route you will not have to attend (in fact you cannot attend – the case will be heard by a single Magistrate sitting in an office with a Legal Advisor).


You will be given the opportunity to provide any explanation for the offence in writing when you respond to the SJPN. If you opt for a court appearance you can tell the court anything you want to in person. My view is least said the better because overtaking horses at high speed is not something the court will see as mitigation.


It is unfortunate that there is a huge jump in the penalty once an offence is serious enough for court action but that’s how it is. If you had been reported at 49mph you would have been almost guaranteed £100 and three points.

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Magistrates will take into account the Highway Code so be aware of what Rule 214 says about driving slowly when overtaking animals


Rule 214

Animals. When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop. Do not scare animals by sounding your horn, revving your engine or accelerating rapidly once you have passed them. Look out for animals being led, driven or ridden on the road and take extra care. Keep your speed down at bends and on narrow country roads. If a road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and switch off your engine until they have left the road. Watch out for animals on unfenced roads.

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