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How fast can I go over the speed limit?

Ever wondered how fast you can go over the speed limit? At what point does a National Speed Awareness course stop being an option? 

There are many, many misconceptions surrounding motoring laws and in particular those to do with speeding, which is why just about everyone has their own interpretation. But what are the actual rules and why is there an element of confusion? 

For those who already have a speeding ticket or think one is on the way, you can find additional information here: What happens if I get a speeding ticket?

When will I get a speeding ticket?

The police are advised a lower and upper limit for speeding, giving drivers a bit of leeway between the legal limit and the lower threshold, which is the speed limit plus 10 per cent of said limit plus 2mph. But you can, in theory, be done for doing 31mph in a 30mph zone if police want to follow the letter of the law.

In a 20mph zone that means you have 20 plus the 10 per cent, which is 22mph, plus 2mph. That means the lower advisory limit for a National Speed Awareness Course is 24mph so you may get away with going 21, 22 or even 23mph.

In a 30mph, it’s 30 plus 10 per cent plus 2mph, giving a total of 35mph. In a 40mph zone it’s 46mph and so on ─ hopefully you get the picture for how the lower threshold is calculated.

The thing is, those figures are advised by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and can be igonred by police. As we said earlier, there are guidelines in place but breaking the speed limit by even 1mph can be punishable.

How fast can I go and avoid points on my license?

The upper limit is 10 per cent of the limit plus 9mph. So in a 70mph it’s 70mph plus ten per cent (77mph) plus 9mph, which equals 86mph. Get busted at this speed and you could get away with a speed awareness course and avoid points.

Go faster than that and it is likely you will face points and a fine. Get caught going really, really fast (above this threshold) and a court summons will be winging its way to you.

But the police can ignore these guidelines?

The upper and lower limits are advised by the ACPO, as previously stated, which means each police force may have variations on how they treat speeding and can use a level of discretion.

For instance, someone who speeds outside a school at 3pm is likely to be punished more than someone who speeds in the same place at 3am. It is up to a police force whether a National Speed Awareness course is offered to the offender, even if you fit within the lower and upper limits.

But what about speedometer inaccuracy?

Manufacturers are required to ensure speedometers read between 100 and 110 per cent of your actual speed. The speedometer must never read below the true speed.

How fast can I go through a speed camera?

Depends on the police force and how the camera is set up. It could be that yellow box of gloom gives you 10 per cent over the speed limit in one area and a mere 1mph in another. It could be switched off the day you go past.

Unless you know the person who set the limit, it’s anyone’s guess. And even if you do, the level of leniency could change without warning.

Can I break the speed limit to overtake?

It is a common misconception to assume you can speed up beyond the speed limit to overtake. Simply put, any speed beyond 70mph is breaking the law regardless of the situation. 70mph may seem slow if everyone is doing 90mph but even 1mph higher is punishable.


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