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What do I need to know about Speed Awareness Courses?

What is a Speed Awareness Course?

More than a million drivers each year choose to take a Speed Awareness Course.  These courses have been developed by psychologists, and are to educate rather than to punish drivers in an attempt to make roads safer.  The courses are about 4 hours in length.  The cost of a course is about £85, and therefore they aren’t much cheaper than accepting a fixed penalty.

When would I be offered a Speed Awareness Course?

Most police forces offer a course to drivers who are caught speeding between 10% of the speed limit plus 2 mph, and 10% of the speed limit plus 9 mph, over the speed limit.  For example, if you get caught speeding between 35 mph to 42 mph in a 30 mph speed limit, or between 79 mph and 86 mph in a 70 mph speed limit, then you should be eligible for a course.  If your speed is below 10% of the speed limit plus 2 mph more than the speed limit then the police will not normally pursue you at all.  For example, if your speed is below 35mph in a 30 mph speed limit, or below 79 mph in a 70 mph limit, no action will normally be taken against you at all.  You can only attend a Speed Awareness Course once every 3 years.  This means that if you are caught speeding again within that period you will have penalty points awarded. 

What advantages are there for me if I do a Speed Awareness Course?

Most drivers do Speed Awareness Courses because no penalty points will then be imposed on their driving licences for the offence.  Also, the police will not record your speeding offence as a conviction.  Not having penalty points imposed reduces the chances of you in the future accumulating 12 penalty points or more and being disqualified for at least 6 months unless you successfully argue exceptional hardship.  It should be noted however that if you have 9 penalty points on your driving licence and then you commit a further speeding offence you will not be offered a Speed Awareness Course, or a fixed penalty, and the matter will have to go to court.

Do I have to inform my Insurer if I complete a Speed Awareness Course?

Insurers can check whether penalty points have been imposed on someone’s driving licence.  However, insurance firms cannot check if someone has done a Speed Awareness Course unless they admit to it, as this information belongs to the local police force and not to the DVLA.

You have to inform your car insurer if you are convicted of any motoring offence including speeding.  However, a Speed Awareness Course isn’t a conviction so you probably wouldn’t need to let your insurance company know immediately after you have done such a course unless your insurance policy says this is required.  The problem normally arises when it comes to renewing your car insurance as some insurers will ask if you have attended a Speed Awareness Course.  If you have attended such a course, and you say that you haven’t, this could invalidate your insurance if the truth later came to light.  This could lead to you being accused of driving with no insurance, an offence that carries 3 to 6 penalty points and a discretion to disqualify. 

Depending on the particular insurer, declaring that you have attended a Speed Awareness Course may increase your insurance premiums by 10% to 30%.

What should I do if I am considering a Speed Awareness Course?

Please ring our founding motoring solicitor Philip Hatvany on FREEPHONE 0800 909 8110 for free advice to help you decide the best way forward.