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Tougher penalties for speeding motorists introduced

Tougher penalties for speeding motorists introduced

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 not changing.

Under 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 being established.  

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
fixed penalties unaffected.

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 unnoticed.”

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 limit.  

“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 safety.”  

Further details on the new sentencing guidelines are available at: https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/offences/item/speeding-revised-2017/