How much is a speeding fine?
We all know that exceeding the speed limit can be dangerous and, as a result, the authorities are keen to clamp down on anyone caught speeding on the roads of Ireland. But do you know the ways in which you can be caught? And how much a speeding fine is – if you pay it quickly? And what it could mean in terms of hidden costs, like increased insurance premiums? Here’s our helpful guide to speeding fines.
WAYS OF BEING CAUGHT
Let’s start with the obvious – the speed limits in Ireland. Generally, in built-up areas (villages, towns and cities), the speed limit is 50km/h, though there are increasingly small stretches of road marked as just 30km/h. This rises to 100km/h on open, country roads and 120km/h on a motorway (though the M50 is only 100km/h). The exception to these limits occurs if you’re towing a trailer, in which case you are limited to 80km/h on both open roads and the motorway.
There are then two ways of being caught if you exceed any of these speeds. So, assuming you are going fast enough to merit a fine, then there are two main ways of being caught. These are known as ‘intercept detection’ and ‘non-intercept detection’. The first of these means a Garda officer will stop you at the roadside, at the time of the offence. He or she will then input the details of the offence into a handheld computer or write the details onto a Fixed Charge Notice (FCN). However, be aware that the Gardaí are no longer required to issue an FCN themselves at the scene of an incident, which links in to the second type of stop.
A non-intercept detection means there is no Garda officer involved and the first you know about the fine is an FCN landing on your doormat from the National Processing Office (NPO); this is what you’ll get if you’re stopped (intercept) and the Garda officer doesn’t give you an FCN there and then. Otherwise, the NPO will issue an FCN if you’re caught speeding by one of the mobile speed camera units stationed in a van. Alternatively, you could be recorded by the video system of a mobile speed detection vehicle, or through the use of handheld computers or Notepads as the result of an allegation made via Traffic Watch (tel. 1890-205805).
A note of warning here – it is also an offence to carry speed camera detectors or camera-jamming systems in your car, so don’t think that using such technology is a way to avoid a fine. You’ll get €200 the first time you’re caught using either of these items and the Garda will confiscate the equipment, and that rises to €450 for your second offence.
From the moment you have been caught and/or you’re issued with an FCN, then you have 28 days to pay a flat rate of €80. You’ll also automatically get three points on your driving licence. If you go beyond this first deadline, the fine increases to €120 and five points on your licence. There’s another 28 days to meet this criterion, which means 56 days in total beyond the original date of the speeding offence. Exceed that second deadline and you will be summonsed to court, whereupon you’re likely to get more than five points on your licence and a fine of up to €1,000 – so it makes sense to pay up quickly if you’re caught speeding.
HOW DO PENALTY POINTS WORK?
Every driver in Ireland can amass up to 12 penalty points and continue driving, but once you hit 12 points, your licence is revoked unconditionally for six months, i.e., you’re banned from driving. Points stay on your licence for three years from the date of the offence, so if you get caught speeding four times in 2.5 years, you will receive a driving ban, regardless of how quickly you pay the fines or how little you were exceeding the speed limit by in each instance. Penalty points can be accrued in other ways too, such as being over the drink-drive limit or using a mobile phone when driving.
It’s not just the fine of €80 that can hit you in the pocket; drivers with points on their licence face increased insurance premiums. Typically, picking up three penalty points in a three-year period for a solitary speeding offence shouldn’t affect your insurance too much – we’re all human, after all, and we can occasionally make honest mistakes, which the insurance companies have come to accept – but repeat offenders will see their premiums rising significantly. If you’ve ever received a ‘totting up’ ban for reaching 12 points, then your premiums will be jacked up considerably, as you’ll be classed as ‘high risk’ under insurance considerations.
And don’t think you can hide penalty points from the insurance companies, either – seven of them, who write 90 per cent of all premiums in the country, have access to the National Driver File, so they can see precisely how many points are currently active on your driving licence. Broadly speaking, premiums will start to be affected once you’ve got five or more penalty points – meaning two speeding offences in three years, or one speeding offence where you don’t pay the fine within 28 days – while most insurance companies will be very reluctant to take on new customers who have nine or more points.