Just because you're a motoring lawyer it doesn't mean you're above the law, writes Jeanette Miller who tells what happened when she got caught speeding.
I was caught out by a speed camera, doing around 35mph in a 30mph zone.
In my defence, I mistakenly thought I was driving within the speed limit when I was flashed.
I was in an area I was not familiar with and had assumed the dual carriageway I was on had a 40mph limit when in fact it was a 30mph road.
Still, the law's the law and I had broken it. So after being caught speeding, I accepted the offer of attending a National Speed Awareness Course.
Penalty points alternative
The National Speed Awareness Course was introduced back in 2005 as a discretionary alternative to penalty points, particularly useful to those at risk of a totting-up ban.
There are a number of criteria normally applied by police constabularies in deciding who is eligible to be offered a place on the course.
One of these is that it tends only to be made available where the speed alleged is relatively low.
And, according to driver re-training organisation Driver Improvement, previous driving history will not be taken into account when making an offer.
The accused has to pay between £60 and £100 for the pleasure of attending the course.
Easy to fall foul of the law
I think this is a good scheme and addresses, to some extent, the problem encountered by many normally law-abiding motorists who are caught by speed cameras when driving only marginally over the speed limit.
Being an expert in motoring law defence, I had expected to be bored to tears and to know everything the course was going to cover.
But while I was very frustrated to be attending, I did learn one or two things from the entertaining course providers.
I passed my driving test aged 17, before there was any requirement to undertake a theory test.
Highway Code refresher
So more than 20 years later, I was well overdue a Highway Code refresher!
There were also practical tips on how to ensure you stay below the speed limit and how to look out for speed limit signs.
Which was helpful as I, and everyone else sat at my table, had assumed I was driving within the speed limit when I was flashed.
The course contained a fair bit of “preaching” about the dangers of speeding but I suppose this is quite right.
After all, we could all do with a reminder that the cars we drive are effectively weapons that can destroy lives if not driven responsibly.
I suppose the most embarrassing part of attending the course for me was the fact that I had to drive to it in a car with my firm’s branding all over it.
My usual car had been stolen a couple of weeks earlier and this little pool car with “defending drivers nationwide” splashed across it in bright green lettering was the only one available for me to drive.
Other attendees of the course did look a tad bewildered as I parked up and one of them thought I would be leading the course as a new spin on speed awareness!
But although I was a little red-faced as a motoring lawyer to be attending the course, I would definitely recommend it to others.
The course can take up to four hours for theory only, although this can be extended to five hours if there is a practical element too.
Car insurance premiums unaffected
Once a motorist has completed the course, they will be ineligible to do it again if they re-offend within three years of the original offence.
The best aspect of it is you do not need to notify your car insurance provider and your licence bears no record of it so your premiums are unaffected.
What do you think?
Have you, or anyone you know, completed a speed awareness course or similar? How did you find it?
You can leave you thoughts on the message board below.
Motor lawyer Jeanette Miller, is a senior partner at Geoffrey Miller Solicitors, a UK firm specialising solely in defending drivers who face prosecution for motoring offences. She is also a member of the Association of Motor Offence Lawyers.