Get all your news in one place
100’s of premium titles. One news app. Zero ads. Just $10 per month.

Speeding fines, myths and do you have to pay if you get a ticket

Speed cameras are used to make sure motorists are driving safely.

As one comes into view, it can be a worrying moment for drivers as they try to work out whether or not they'd edged over the seed limit. But what many people don't know is the truth about how these vehicles operate, and exactly why and how tickets are issued to drivers.

In an attempt to separate fact from fiction, North Wales Live chatted to a speed camera officer to dispel any myths.

READ MORE: Man fined £293 for driving at 60mph on motorway

Gareth Thomas, formerly a police officer, shared exactly how speed cameras work, the truth behind some of the most popular myths and claims and - and how you can avoid being caught speeding.

He said: "I decided after retiring that I wanted to make the roads as safe as they can be in this area. The aim of cameras is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on our roads.

Here, we answer a series of questions that will hopefully prevent you being hit with a fine.

Is it true that speed vans have to be visible at all times?

No. There are no laws about visibility, so there is nothing stopping an officer operating in the dark. But they don't often choose to do this, and maintain that being visible acts as a deterrent in its own right.

Gareth, said: "Legally, we don't have to be visible. I could camouflage myself if I wanted to - but it's all about being fair, education and preventing an accident.

"Even if I parked my van and went for a walk somewhere, it would deter people speeding right away."

Can officers only catch motorists travelling in one direction?

No. Any car that passes a Go Safe van is recorded on the officer's camera.

So if you're exceeding the speed limit whether you're driving in the same or opposite direction to the van, you can expect a speeding ticket.

It is true that the 10 per cent rule exists?

Officially, any speeding offence occurs at 1mph above the limit, but most forces will allow a variance - usually the speed limit, plus 10% and an extra 1 or 2mph.

Are officers out to make money for the government?

No. Gareth, explained: "We're not here to get figures or to make money. We're just here to catch the people who are speeding. If I get a day where I don't get any drivers speeding, then I know I've done my job.

"If I've been working an eight hour shift, I just hope at least one person that day has escaped injury or a crash has been avoided."

Can I get caught speeding more than once on the same day

The current position with Go Safe is that if you are caught twice in 20 minutes, it will be treated as one offence.

In theory, a driver with a previously clean licence could be caught several times on the same day - and as a result be at risk of disqualification under the totting-up system. If you are caught speeding several times on the same journey and accept a fixed penalty for each, you could be at risk of a penalty points disqualification (totting-up).

Gareth says it can happen more easily than you might think, for example where several speed cameras are placed on the same road or motorway.

However, where offences are deemed to have been committed "on the same occasion", the court has discretion to impose only the one set of points for two or more offences. Whether or not offences will be treated as committed on the same occasion is a matter for the court to decide. They need not have been committed simultaneously, but they must be linked in some way.

So if for example the offences were committed within a few minutes of each other, it may be possible to persuade the court to impose only one set of points. Every case will depend on its facts.

Is it illegal to eat behind the wheel?

No, it's not. However, if you get distracted while snacking behind the wheel, the police could prosecute you for careless driving. Gareth, said: "I had one lady in view once and she was looking in the mirror and putting lipstick on.

"She was riding on the cats eyes in the centre of the road and veering. I recommended that she was prosecuted for driving without due care and attention."

What happens if I am caught speeding?

It all comes down to the circumstances within which you were caught speeding, and how much you were in excess of the limit. The minimum penalty for being caught speeding on the UK's roads is a £100 fine.

But Gareth explained in some circumstances, police can offer the option of attending a speed awareness course - an alternative to a fine and penalty points. Gareth said: "An accredited course is far more likely to improve driver behaviour and consequently make our roads safer.

"Courses are available to drivers who respond quickly to the 'notices' and who were driving at no more than 10 per cent, plus 9 mph above the posted speed limit."

So for example, anyone travelling over 86mph on a motorway would not be offered the awareness course. Those who don't have a clean licence at the time of the office, or if you have been on the course in the last three years, it is unlikely you will be offered the awareness course as an option.

What happens if I get a speeding fine and don't pay it?

If you are not given the option to attend a speed awareness course, you must pay your fine. If you don't and you plead not guilty, you'll have to go to court.

You can be fined more and get more penalty points if the court decides you’re guilty of speeding. Government guidance says the amount you’re fined depends on what the speed limit was and how much over it you were driving.

You could be fined up to £1,000 - or £2,500 if you were speeding on the motorway. You could also be disqualified from driving or have your licence suspended.

Receive newsletters with the latest news, sport and what's on updates from the Liverpool ECHO by signing up here