- You can contest a speeding ticket by asking the issuing authority to review the fine.
- It’s also possible to appeal the ticket in court to have the fine waived or request for the penalty to be reduced.
- Drivers who believe that their speeding ticket is unfair can avoid paying the fine by following these steps.
In 2015, about 25 per cent of drivers across the country reportedly saved $4 million by applying to have their fines dismissed. In NSW alone, speeding penalties worth $2.3 million were waived for drivers with good records.
Sharing these stats doesn't mean that you start speeding on roads and challenge the fine later. It does, however, prove the likelihood of being issued an unwarranted fine that could cost you up to $2,520 (the highest penalty for going 45 km/h over the limit in NSW).
You may also earn some demerit points, which could affect your insurance costs in future. For severe offences, you may even find your driving licence suspended for some time.
So, if a speeding ticket was issued to you wrongly, it may be worth asking for a review to have the fine waived or at least have the demerit points reduced.
Inside this guide
How are speeding tickets issued?
All states issue fines for speeding infringements captured on traffic monitoring devices (like hidden cameras) or witnessed by cops. A speed camera fine will most probably reach you by mail, hopefully within 14 days of it being issued. In case you are pulled over by a cop, you can expect to have a speeding ticket in your hand within minutes unless you can convince them to let you go with just a warning.
It's worth remembering that the severity of the fine you cop varies from state to state. That's because fining of road offences comes under the jurisdiction of state governments rather than the federal government.
How do I contest a speeding ticket?
If you are detected speeding by a fixed road safety camera or a police officer with a speed gun, you'll most likely receive an infringement notice at your postal address.
Once you receive the fine, you generally have two options – to pay it or contest it. When your fine arrives by mail, however, it's possible that someone else was driving your car at the time of the offence, and you have the option of nominating the person who was driving. This is an important step if the vehicle is registered in a company's name, as the fine imposed is generally higher than that for individuals.
Irrespective of how you received the speeding ticket, if you think it has been wrongly issued, you can either request for an internal review or appeal to challenge the notice in court.
Option 1: Applying for an internal review
Depending on the state that issued the fine, it's possible to apply for an internal review to contest the fine by filling in the option on the ticket, writing a letter to the authority that issued the ticket or submitting an online review form.
Generally, when you are applying for an internal review, you are trying to get the penalty notice cancelled or asking the authority to let you off with a formal warning instead of a penalty notice.
The success of your review application depends upon the reason for which you are contesting it. Generally, the penalty may be waived if the notice was issued wrongly, there was a case of mistaken identity, or you were caught up in a medical emergency.
It's worth noting that different states have different procedures for handling a review application. In NSW, if you are caught at less than 20km/hr over the limit and have had a blemish-free driving record for a decade, you could be let off in a review, if you can reasonably explain why you were speeding. But if the fine was issued in a school zone, the outcome of your review may not be successful.
You can generally only file one review per notice, and you shouldn't have voluntarily paid the fine before asking for a review.
If the review is unsuccessful, the penalty notice will continue to apply, but you can choose to have the matter reviewed by the court.
Option 2: Appealing a speeding ticket in court
It's possible to have the infringement notice heard in court if you believe it has been wrongly issued or find the penalty to be too harsh. But it's generally advisable to seek an internal review first, as the review process is no longer available once you go to the court.
To avail this option, you’ll need to inform the relevant authority that you don't wish to pay the fine and want to contest it in court. Once this is done, you’ll be contacted by the police or receive a summons with the date and time of your appearance. If you take this route, you'll have two major defences available at your disposal:
- You were not the driver of the vehicle at the specified time, or the vehicle was stolen or sold prior to the ticket being issued.
- The allegation is incorrect. This may be because you have reason to believe that the speed detector was faulty or inaccurate.
You may even choose to plead guilty but request the penalty be reduced by challenging the speed alleged or admitting to an honest and reasonable mistake. For instance, you know the speed limit on a road is 100 km/hr, and you have it locked in on cruise control. Yet, you find yourself slapped with a fine for travelling at 130km/hr. In this case, you’ll need to have your speedometer tested by a mechanic to support your defence. If you find that it is not calibrated correctly, you can attach the mechanic’s report to show you had genuine reason to believe you were not speeding.
Even if you cannot convince the magistrate that you are not guilty of speeding, you may be able to plead a lesser offence, which can help reduce the amount of the fine and the demerit points issued to you.
The bottom line
Just because you are issued an infringement notice for speeding doesn't mean you are guilty of the offence. If you have reason to believe the fine was incorrectly issued or spot any discrepancy in the notice, you can request the issuing authority to review the notice or appeal to have it heard in a local court.
It's generally better to file for a review first and then go to court if your review is unsuccessful. When choosing the latter, you may want to seek help from a qualified lawyer to increase the chances of a positive outcome.
Preparing your defence could be tricky on your own, and if you cannot prove your case, you may be directed to pay additional costs to the court and the issuing agency in addition to the fine you were contesting.
A professional lawyer could help you choose the best possible course of action by apprising you of the court costs and the strength of your case, so you can decide whether it's a good idea to contest the fine or not. If you do decide to appeal the fine in court, remember that it's important to act fast, as you only get a limited number of days to file an appeal. The period allowed to contest a speeding ticket may vary between states, and you can find this information on the issuing authority's website.