Don’t get summoned to a Manx court for speeding. Like I did.

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As the weather sloooooooowly starts to improve (today is a sunny day, so I’m all full of optimism) and we fight our way out the back of a pandemic that’s sloooooooowly starting to release its vice-like grip on the world (that’s my optimism again), we’re all looking forward to getting back out on our bikes and getting further-a-field than the butty van down the road. In fact I was recently invited to the Isle of Man with some mates on their annual let’s-go-really-fast-on-motorbikes holiday. They’re all mad-keen for it, especially the ones that haven’t been before, and I don’t blame them. But I had to remind them that there are still police over there. And that they’ll absolutely f**k you, if you take the piss. Like they did to me. This is the story of when I got summoned to a Manx court for speeding.

I was on the Isle of Man on my trusty old CBR600, the bike I’d bought specifically for learning my way round the TT course. It was 2017, the year which should have been my second TT appearance, but thanks to a sponsor dropping the ball at the eleventh hour, it never happened. Anyway, I’d sorted the time off work and booked all the ferries, so I thought I might as well go over and have a two week holiday, and do some laps on the Honda. So that’s exactly what I did.

I got up early most mornings for a lap or two. Sometimes did a couple in the afternoons, as well. I knew where all the police liked to hang out with their speed guns, I knew all the speed limits (or at least I thought I did), so I wasn’t really worried about getting nicked. Until I got nicked.

Golden then brown

I was trundling down that bit of road between Sulby Village and Sulby Bridge (if you know the TT course?), nice and slowly at about 45mph because I thought it was a 50mph zone. I saw the copper pointing his gun at me, looked at my speedo, and thought I was golden. Then he waved me in. I wasn’t golden.

The 50mph zone was actually a 30mph zone, and PC Plod had clocked me doing 43mph. Bastard. I gave him my details, signed his piece of paper and expected a fine to be waiting for me when I got home.

Needless to say the rest of the holiday was spent being very careful. Checking all the road signs and speed limits. I didn’t get stopped a second time on that trip.

When I got home there was no letter, no fine, nothing. I thought there’s probably a bit of a backlog of speeding tickets to get through from the TT fortnight, so I expected something to arrive eventually. As the weeks rolled by I started to think they must have forgotten about me. Or decided to let me off since I’d been so obsequiously polite to the policeman. Eventually I convinced myself I’d got away with it. Bonus.

And then one day, a few months after the event, I got one of those ‘there’s something for you at the post office’ cards. “No dramas,” I thought, it must be something I’d ordered. When I arrived, they said whatever had landed had to be signed for, so I signed their machine, and they handed a small envelope to me. “That’s strange,” I thought, “What could this be?”

Court date

Yep you guessed it. It was a court summons. I shat myself. According to the letter, I was to attend court on the 2nd October 2017 on the Isle of Man. If I didn’t show up, I’d be sentenced in my absence. Shit.

Was this normal? Does everyone get a court date for going 13mph over the speed limit? Or was it just me?

In a blind panic I phoned the number on the court summons to find out what the score was. It turns out they’d already sent me a fine, which must have got lost in the post so went down as un-paid. That’s why they initiated court proceedings. The nice Manx lady told me that if I admitted guilt, they’d resend the fine, I could pay it and I wouldn’t have to go to court. So I said yes please!

At £400 and a bit (I can’t remember exactly) it was a fairly hefty fine, but I didn’t get any points on my license; or not on my UK license, anyway. If a UK license holder gets caught speeding on the Isle of Man, they can (and will) get fined, but their UK license is usually safe*. What happens is you get points on a sort-of ‘ghost license’ that the IOM authorities use to keep an eye on you. And if you misbehave too much, or get too many points on your IOM license, they’ll throw you in jail.

*This bit might have changed now, they might be able to get at your ‘actual’ license if they catch you speeding…


They really don’t take kindly to people taking the piss on their roads over there. In fact I’ve heard plenty of stories of people getting jailtime for speeding, drink driving, or dangerous driving.

So if you’re going to have a Manx holiday to take advantage of their amazing roads, many of which don’t have speed limits on, it’s best to bear a few things in mind. Firstly, they’ll still nick you if they see you riding (or driving) like a dick, even on the ‘unrestricted’ roads. Because they are still roads, with people going about their daily lives. They’re not racetracks, all the time. And secondly, they’re not shy when it comes to doling out punishments. You could be fined hundreds of pounds for the slightest misdemeanour, or put in prison for something you might only get banned for on the mainland.

So my advice to my mates going over to the Isle of Man for the first time is this. Don’t break any speed limits, don’t get carried away on the unrestricted sections and don’t ride like a tit. If you do, and you get caught speeding, or riding poorly, they’ll show no mercy. And you’ll almost certainly live to regret it. Like I did.


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