If you’ve been clocked by a speed camera, the photos will be processed, your car’s registration number logged and if you’re the registered owner of the vehicle, you’ll receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP).
This is the first letter you’ll receive if your vehicle has been identified as the one photographed breaking the speed limit or jumping a red light. The NIP asks if you were the driver of the vehicle and you’ll have 28 days to complete the form and return it.
On the NIP you must fill in your name and address (it’s on the form already), although you have the opportunity to say if someone else was driving, if it was a vehicle hire car or the car was owned by someone else at the time of the offence.
If you’re convinced you weren’t breaking the speed limit, you have the right to challenge the camera partnership
If you fail to return the NIP, you mayreceive a reminder which gives you a further 14 days to provide the information.
If you then complete the NIP in the allotted time you’ll get a letter with a Conditional Offer. This offers the chance of paying a £60 fine and getting three points; this can be done by post. You’ll have to send the fine and your driving licence, with its counterpart, and your licence will then be endorsed with three points and returned within a few days.
You may wish to go to court, which is your right. However, if magistrates find you guilty you may have to pay court costs of several hundred pounds, a penalty of up to £1000 and take six penalty points – which could put you off the road altogether.
If you don’t reply to the Conditional Offer within 28 days, you’ll be sent a reminder, which gives you a further 14 days to reply.
If you fail to respond to the NIP or the Conditional Offer, a summons will be issued and you may be required to attend a magistrates' court in the district where the offence took place.
If you fail to complete or sign the NIP, you will be summonsed for the secondary offence of failing to furnish information.
In the clear
If you’re convinced you weren’t breaking the speed limit, you have the right to challenge the camera partnership; mistakes happen and you have the right to protest your innocence.
But don’t contest the allegation if you know you were breaking the limit; you’ll come unstuck and lose your licence almost certainly. Claim someone else was driving when it was you and you could go to prison for perjury.
It may be that someone else was driving, in which case you can nominate them on the form. Perhaps your car has been cloned (someone has nicked its identity), so it looks like you’re guilty when you’re not; if this is the case, the truth will out, so contest the allegations against you. If you were driving but you’re sure you were below the speed limit, plead not guilty on the back of the NIP.
The case will then have to go to court, in which case you’ll need to see what evidence they’re going to use against you. This has to be provided seven days before the hearing, and it’ll comprise of any stills or video that show your car at the time of the alleged offence.
You’ll probably find all this pretty daunting and may want to use a solicitor; if you win the case, you won’t have to pay for the solicitor’s services. If you daren’t take the risk because you think you could lose, you can represent yourself – but do this badly and even if you’re innocent the magistrates will probably find against you.
An alternative to formal representation is a friend or adviser to sit with you, to offer advice and help take notes. This person is referred to as a Mackenzie friend; they can’t speak for you in court but they’re there just for support.
* For more legal help, check out our legal section.