NEARLY 2,000 motorists had their speeding fines cancelled in Dorset last year, new figures show.

The Police Powers and Procedures data produced for the Home Office showed that there were 330 incomplete and 1,969 cancelled fines in the county last year.

This may be an underlying reason for the drop in the number of motorists paying fines in Dorset as fewer than 15,000 were caught last year.

Dorset Police logged 18,138 speeding tickets paid by drivers snapped on camera in 2018, three per cent fewer than in 2017. This was fewer than the 19,960 paid when comparable records began in 2011.

Camera-detected speed violations led to 889 court actions but not every snap resulted in a fine – overall, cameras flashed for 21,326 speed violations in Dorset last year.

Drivers found to have broken the speed limit face possible punishments ranging from a fine to attending a speed awareness course, or even court action.

Police forces can send someone on a driver retraining course, which includes those on speed awareness, at their own discretion – meaning figures for fines may differ widely across the country.

However, those having to retrain can only attend a course once in a three-year period, even if they commit the same offence again.

With speeding offences at record levels across England and Wales, road safety charity Brake has warned that breaking the speed limit can have "devastating consequences".

Samuel Nahk, senior public affairs officer at Brake, said: "Breaking the speed limit by any amount can have devastating consequences, and drivers who selfishly ignore speed limits put not only themselves, but other road users, at serious risk.

"Speed cameras play a crucial role in enforcing our traffic laws, and are a proven, cost-effective way of reducing speed and preventing deaths and serious injuries.

"However, road safety isn't just about enforcement, we need safer speed limits, safer vehicles and safer road infrastructure to make sure that no journey ends in tragedy and we all manage to get home to our loved ones safely."

A spokesperson for Dorset Police said: “Penalty notices can cancelled for a number of different reasons, such as emergency vehicle on blue lights applying for exemptions, being unable to trace the driver, foreign drivers living abroad and various other reasons.

“They would not be cancelled due to successful challenges, as these would take place in court and would therefore come under the ‘court action’ category rather than a simple cancellation.

“We are committed to working with our partners to do all we can to keep Dorset’s road safe for all users but would also urge motorists to take responsibility for their own actions and drive according to the speed limit and road conditions at all times. By working together we can help reduce the number of casualties on Dorset’s roads.”

Cameras detected 97 per cent of the 2.1 million offences recorded across England and Wales by police last year, according to the figures, as well as 74 per cent of cases where drivers neglected traffic directions. This could involve, for example, a failure to follow road signs such as "right of way".

A year ago David Beckham successfully challenged speeding prosecution by proving that the notice did not arrive within the statutory 14-day window. So how do you go about challenging a speeding ticket or fine?

According to the respected consumer association, Which:

*If you're caught speeding The owner of the car will be sent a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP), detailing the offence. Plus, a document called a Section 172 notice. Whether you agree with the NIP or not, within 28 days you must complete the Section 172 notice declaring who was driving the car at the time of the offence. If you were stopped by a police officer, they can give you a verbal warning of prosecution and a NIP is not required if the offence was part of a road traffic accident.

If you receive a speeding ticket Once the NIP is returned, you’ll receive a conditional offer of a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). You can either pay the fine and accept the penalty points, or contest the fine in court. To uphold the fine, a court only needs to prove you were speeding. Saying that you did not intend to speed, didn’t realise you were speeding or you only exceeded the limit briefly won’t hold water.

Contesting a speeding ticket If you disagree with your speeding charge, you can contest it. A fine is unlikely to be overturned unless you can prove one of the following:

You were not speeding.

You weren't driving when the offence took place.

There was no proper notice of the speed limit.

The vehicle caught speeding wasn't yours.

Your car was stolen.

* Read more: - Which?