New sentencing guidelines for magistrates came into force
on Monday (24 April) with one of the offences covered being speeding.
The guidelines were published by the Sentencing Council earlier
this year, with a new higher penalty introduced for those offenders who drive
at speeds excessively above legal limits.
The change to sentencing followed calls from respondents
to the consultation on the Council’s proposed new guidelines who said that the
previous guidelines did not properly take into account the increase in
potential harm that could result as speed above the speed limit increased.
The Council has therefore increased the penalty for the
top band of seriousness to ensure that there is clear increase in fine level as
the seriousness of offending increases.
That means fines for those offenders will have a starting
point of 150% of weekly income rather than the existing level of 100% of weekly
income. It would apply to drivers who, for example, drive at 41mph or more
where there is a 20mph limit, 51mph or more where there is a 30mph limit or at
more than 101mph on a motorway. Sentence levels for less serious offences are
the new regime there are a total of three starting points for fines: Band A
offences - 50% of weekly disposable income; Band B offences - 100% of weekly
disposable income; Band C offences - 150% of weekly disposable income.
The Band for the
offence determines the starting point for any fine and is linked to a driver’s
disposable weekly income. The Court will adjust any fine upwards or downwards
according to any aggravating features and the mitigating features of the case.
For example, the Court will consider speeding near a school or carried out in a
commercial vehicle as an aggravating feature.
Other aggravating or mitigating
factors could include: Previous convictions, offences committed whilst on bail,
poor road or weather conditions, evidence of an unacceptable standard of
driving over and above speed and a high level of traffic or pedestrians in the
vicinity. Similarly, factors reducing
seriousness or reflecting personal mitigation might include: No previous
convictions or no relevant/recent
convictions, good character and/or exemplary conduct and a genuine emergency
The maximum fines allowed by law remain the same. The
maximum fine for speeding is £1,000, unless it takes place on a motorway, in
which case it is £2,500. In
addition drivers will receive between three and six penalty points unless a
period of disqualification is ordered. The minimum penalty for speeding
is a £100 fine and three penalty points with
Road safety charity Brake welcomed the measures to get
tougher on drivers who break speed limits.
Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “Toughening
the fines and penalties for speeding is long overdue. As a charity that
offers a support service to families bereaved and injured in road crashes, we
see every day the consequences of speeding on our roads. I hope that
magistrates ensure the new sentences are consistently applied.”
Meanwhile, a survey by consumer motoring website www.HonestJohn.co.uk discovered that more than
eight out of every 10 British motorists were unaware of the new speeding fines.
A total of 84% of respondents said they didn’t know what the new sentencing guidelines
meant, while more than half (56%) were completely unaware that the penalties
for speeding were changing.
The website’s managing editor Daniel Powell said: “While most people
agree that excessive speed has no place on our roads, and that greater
deterrents are likely to reduce the amount of deaths and injuries related to
speeding, the new fines policy appears to have entered the law almost
He continued: “While the new fines are clearly a deterrent, the bigger
issue here is that prevention is better than cure. One very real concern is
that, while speeding is easier to police, there are greater road safety
concerns attached to driver distraction than creeping slightly over the speed
“If sentencing guidelines for speeding are heading this way, then in an era
of more connectivity behind the wheel, we should be addressing concerns around
mobile phone use, in-car app and sat nav distractions in much the same way.
Harsher fines are a deterrent, but we can’t help but think a better, more
modern approach to driver education would have a greater influence on road
Further details on the new sentencing guidelines are
available at: https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/item/speeding-revised-2017/