3 Oct 2015

What happens if you get caught speeding in your lease car?

Speeding fines are a big issue in the UK, in excess of 100,000 are handed out every year, but the process of dealing with one is generally fairly simple. However, if you lease your car the process can differ slightly.

For example if your vehicle is leased on a personal contract hire (PCH) or business contract hire (BCH) agreement, it actually remains the property of the car leasing company. Despite you being the actual keeper, the chances are any fines that are issued will be sent straight to the company in question.

Of course, this doesn't mean you can simply dodge the fine. Not only will you still be liable to pay for it, you may even be subjected to an admin fee by your car leasing provider.

Surprisingly the process of dealing with a speeding fine incurred whilst travelling in a leased vehicle is seldom talked about. With that in mind I've compiled the following guide to help you better understand what to expect.

Receiving a Notice of Prosecution (NIP)

When you lease a car the registered owner will be the car leasing company, the registered keeper may be the leasing company too, but the day to day keeper will be the driver of the vehicle. This is especially true with company cars and fleets who are rarely the registered keeper.

Because of this, any Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) for a speeding offence is likely to be sent to the car leasing company, at which point they will grass you up, it's nothing personal, just what the law dictates they do. It's worth noting that although initial correspondence is referred to as a NIP, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a prosecution will be undertaken, this depends on several factors.

The issuing of the NIP is something that must be done within 14 days of the offence taking place. That doesn’t mean that you must be notified within 14 days, but simply that it will be issued, if a leasing company is involved it will inevitably take longer for the notice to reach you.

Accepting liability

As mentioned above the car leasing company is the likely recipient of the NIP, they will then respond to the notice with confirmation of your details. Once confirmed, the Police will send you a separate notice asking you to confirm that you were driving at the time of the offence, if you weren’t driving you will be asked to name the offending driver.

You must respond to this letter within 28 days, failure to do so is classed as an offence in its own right. It's also worth noting that simply claiming you are unsure who was driving won't get you off with a slap on the wrist, quite to the contrary as you could be charged with failing to disclose the drivers details.

Fees imposed by the leasing company

The leasing company's involvement in this process takes time and effort, admittedly not very much, but an admin fee is likely to be imposed by them nonetheless. If it's a company car then your employer is likely to be charged the admin fee instead, but may pass it on to you.

In addition, your employer may also charge their own admin fee to cover the administrative costs involved. Both of these fees will likely be deducted straight from your pay packet.

However, if this happens, you'd be wise to check your contract of employment to make sure they have the right to do so. If not, then you may choose to dispute the fees, though it's worth noting that being caught speeding in a vehicle leased and provided by your employer may be interpreted as gross misconduct so you may not wish to rock the boat and risk possible dismissal.

The likely punishment

Once you have accepted liability, the type of punishment you are handed out will depend on the extent of the offence, but also any previous speeding conviction that you may have. The Association of Chief Police Officers has a set of guidelines that suggest when a prosecution should be made, though individual officers do have discretion.

Options available to Police who are dealing with a speeding incident begin with a simple verbal warning or a speed awareness course, something you will have to pay for out of your own pocket.

At the other end of the spectrum there's the issuing of a Fixed Penalty Notice (speeding ticket), with a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence. The most severe action would be a prosecution, something that requires you to attend court and could see you landed with a fine of up to £1,000 or £2,500 if the offence took place on a motorway. That's in addition to either three or six penalty points and the possibility of a driving ban.