‘Penalties’ are not raised for those who are proved guilty in court. You simply lose the right to the discount afforded by an early guilty plea or acceptance of a fpn. This distinction has become increasingly important following the introduction of new sentencing guidelines in August this year. Court fines for road traffic offences such as speeding which might previously have borne some correlation to a fpn are now explicitly based on income. The starting point for many road traffic offence fines is now 100% of weekly income. Against this a £60 fpn will look attractive for many. I am yet to hear a convincing defence against a speeding charge. There is a huge amount of rubbish on the internet which gets trotted out in court time after time. Even with hand-held detectors, if the traffic officer has received the appropriate training and the detector has been properly calibrated and he/she says you are speeding you’re going to be mightily hard-pressed to come up with a decent defence. In my experience, most people who contest their speeding tickets in court seem to wish to use the courtroom to vent their annoyance at being caught rather than to mount a credible defence. Magistrates do no pre-judge. Almost all drive too (I’ve only met one who doesn’t drive). If we have fewer points than average (I doubt there are any statistics on this) it is probably only because, until very recently, we would receive a stern reprimand and had to send a letter of apology on getting any penalty points. I do have severe reservations about increasing the use of fpns. But, as has already been pointed out here, they can always be challenged in court. A court will only convict if one is found guilty beyond reasonable doubt, which is a pretty high burden of proof. It’s quite common for all three magistrates sitting on a trial to believe that someone is probably guilty but to acquit them because the prosecution has failed to prove the matter beyond reasonable doubt.