$123 fine awaits drivers who believe this popular urban myth

When it comes to speed limits, many drivers will tell you that you are safe if you only slightly exceed the limit as the police give a 10 per cent leeway when checking speeds.

Believing this urban legend could be a costly error to make as the authorities can punish anyone driving beyond the speed limit even if it is just a couple of kilometres over the actual limit.

We all know that speeding comes with its penalties and that fines and demerit points are never far from anyone who has been caught by the cops. So why has this myth becomes so prolific?

Police officers around Australia do not take kindly to speeding drivers. Source: AAP/ NSW Police
Police officers around Australia do not take kindly to speeding drivers. Source: AAP/ NSW Police

Limits are limits

No matter where you go in Australia, every road has a speed limit that has to be obeyed and police officers say they won’t give any leeway to anyone they catch breaking it.

Their argument is backed pretty clearly by the Australian Road Rules where Rule 20 spells out that going over the limit is an offence no matter how small or large your breach may be.

Of course, speed limits do vary depending on the environment that you are in. Many states apply the same limits as one another with some of the most common limits including:

  • 60km/h in residential areas and estates

  • 80km/h in major urban roads

  • 110km/h on freeways and rural roads

If you were to believe the 10 per cent rule then you would expect that the police would not fine you if you were going 66km/h or under in a 60km/h zone.

But that would mean that on freeways, you would be able to go 11km/h over the limit, which would actually put you into the higher tier of punishments and see you run the risk of copping some serious fines.

This was a thought echoed by Victoria Police when asked about the truth behind the myth.

In a statement, a spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that "our role is to prevent people from becoming seriously injured or dying on our roads".

"If you are detected travelling over the limit, you should expect to be caught," the statement said.

Speed limit sign with traffic. Source: Getty Images
Speed limits don't exceed 110km/h anywhere in Australia. Source: Getty Images

A 'fine' line

As you would expect, anyone caught speeding and given a ticket will find themselves staring at a combination of both fines and demerit points.

The punishments for speeding differ depending on how far over you go with the further over the limit you are, the harsher the penalties.

Fortunately, only slightly breaking the speed limit (less than 10km/h) comes with a fairly lenient penalty that will at least let you keep your licence albeit with some penalty points added to it.

If you do get caught speeding by less than 10km/h, be prepared to take a double penalty combo wherever you go. The penalties vary across Australia with each state offering the following combinations:

NSW: New South Wales classifies speeding penalties based on the vehicle type. Most road users will have a Class A vehicle which will see you given a $123 fine and issued one demerit point. The penalty is harsher for new drivers though as P-Platers will be issued four demerit points instead of one.

VIC: Drivers in Victoria are given the same penalty regardless of their experience level. They face a fine of $227 and one demerit point if they break the speed limit by less than 10km/h.

QLD: Queensland gives drivers a bit more leeway with speeds as the lowest penalty boundary is stretched to 13km/h. However, offenders can still get a fine of $183 and get one demerit point added to their licence.

SA: In South Australia, drivers must be 9km/h or under if they want to escape harsher penalties. Those caught just breaking the speed limit face a combined fine of $275 and could receive two demerit points to their licence.

Speed camera monitoring traffic. Source: Getty Images
Drivers caught breaking the speed limit face a punishment of both fines and demerit points. Source: Getty Images

WA: WA is a slight enigma as they are the only state not to issue demerit points for speeding just over the limit. If you are caught doing 9km/h or less over the limit, you will only receive a $100 fine.

TAS: Tasmania’s rules are fairly lenient for anyone who is found only just breaking the speed limit. As long as you aren’t more than 10km/h over the limit, you will be given an $83 fine as well as get two demerit points added to your licence.

ACT: In the ACT, the lowest penalty band is extended to 15km/h however, the penalties are some of the harshest in the country. Anyone caught travelling just over the speed limit faces a fine of $301 and one demerit point. If it occurs in a school zone, the fine increases to $325.

NT: Similar to the ACT, the Northern Territory extends the penalty band to 15km/h. The penalties for getting caught in this band are fairly harsh with a $150 fine and one demerit point issued to offending drivers.

Speeding leeways 'do exist'

Despite the risk of fines, there are sometimes leeways given to drivers as authorities do acknowledge that speedometers and other measuring devices have a slight degree of inaccuracy.

This was a thought echoed by NRMA spokesperson Peter Khoury who says that drivers are "given restricted leeway to accommodate slight inaccuracy of measuring devices within a reasonable degree of concession".

"We strongly urge drivers to stick to the speed limits regardless of a potential leeway given to them by the police," he added.

It’s clear then that it wouldn't be wise to expect to made an exception of when speeding on the roads.

Instead, it's always best to stick to the speed limit even when in a rush.

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