The Sentencing Council in England and Wales has introduced new guidelines in respect of fines for drivers caught exceeding the speed limit.
The move has been welcomed by motorist groups who cite statistics illustrating that some 244 people were killed in speed related crashes in 2015.
The very worst offenders will now face an increase within the Band C scale of fines with the starting point rising from 100% to 150% of relevant weekly income (in a range of 125 – 175%).
The president of the Automobile Association, Edmund King, said it was right that “extreme offenders were punished severely”. Gary Rae, who campaigns director for road safety charity ‘Brake’, said he welcomed the toughening of penalties and hoped magistrates ensure that the new sentences are consistently applied.
The magistrates’ court must follow the Sentencing Council guidelines unless it is not in the interests of justice to do so. In exceptional cases, the magistrates can sentence outside of these guidelines but this would occur in very few cases as sentencing ranges is set to include the maximum for the offence.
However, the RAC Foundation Director, Steve Gooding, is concerned that the fines cap means that linking the amount of penalty with income is broken and is hardly a level playing field when comparing high net worth drivers with those on lower incomes.
Despite the increase in fines for the most serious offenders, the maximum fine will remain the same which means that a speeding driver cannot be fined more than £1000, unless the offence takes place on a motorway where the maximum is £2500.
The hope for the government is that by hitting speeding drivers in the pocket it will ease them off the gas. Whether the deterrent works remains to be seen.
Tougher punishments for the most serious speeding offences have come into force in England and Wales. Under new guidelines, fines for drivers caught doing 51mph in a 30mph zone or 101mph on a motorway will start from 150% of weekly income, rather than the previous level of 100%. The Sentencing Council said it wanted a "clear increase in penalty" as the seriousness of offending increases. Motoring groups have broadly welcomed the new guidelines for magistrates