Speeding motorists face £10,000 fines

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Speeding motorists face £10,000 fines
(Les Roberts, Jun 10 2014)
Speeding motorists could find themselves slapped with a £10,000 fine as part of a government crackdown on motoring offences.


The proposals before Parliament would give magistrates the power to hand out heftier fines – but there are question marks over whether this is a genuine attempt to deter drivers from breaking the speed limit or a cynical ploy to stop the appeals process.

A real speed trap?

Speed is one of the main factors in fatal road accidents and, just last month Brake, the road safety charity, called for a dramatic rise in the level of fines issued to motorists who commit the more common, yet no less dangerous, motoring offences of speeding and mobile phone use at the wheel.

And that’s exactly what the government has done by proposing a four-fold increase in the maximum fines for speeding as well as putting up the maximum fine for using a mobile while at the wheel.

The likely government reforms mean magistrates can now issue fines of up to £10,000 to motorists caught speeding on motorways, while fines for breaking the limit on dual carriageways and other roads will increase to a maximum of £4,000, as will the maximum fine for using a mobile while driving.

It should be noted that the standard fixed penalty for speeding will remain £100 plus three penalty points. You’re only going to be hit with a bigger fine if you find yourself found guilty in court.

Unlimited fines

For the first time ever, magistrates will also have the power to impose unlimited fines for more serious ‘level five’ offences such as careless driving or driving without insurance.

Jeremy Wright justice minister , said: “Financial penalties set at the right level can be an effective way of punishing criminals and deterring them from further offending. Magistrates are the cornerstone of our justice system and these changes will provide them with greater powers to deal with the day-to-day offences that impact their local communities.”

But are these penalties set at the right level to deter offenders or to deter the appeals process?

A way to repeal motorists’ appeals?

As noted, under the current rules, a general speeding allegation can be dealt with by a fixed penalty notice of a £100 fine and three penalty points on your licence.

All motorists have the right to appeal against the fixed penalty notice, but a failed appeal will see the fine increase to £1,000, or £2,500 if caught speeding on a motorway, and the number of penalty points double to six.

And it’s reasonable to assume that this would act as enough of a deterrent to any spurious appeals and seems relatively in proportion to the crime committed – speeding offences have been in decline for a number of years, and the latest Department for Transport figures show the number of fatal or serious accidents on major roads (motorways and A roads) fell by 7% in 2013, and by 4% on minor roads.

On roads with speed limits over 40mph in non-built up areas fatal accidents fell by 6% and on roads with speed limits up to and including 40mph in built up areas they fell by 5%.

Money maker?

So given that the number of fatal and serious accidents is on the decline, is this an ill-timed move from the government, or is it a way of bringing in more money from motorists?

It’s easy to be cynical when you consider magistrate fines collected (for all offences) at the end of 2012/13 reached a record high of £284 million and continued to increase during the last financial year.

One thing’s for sure, it will certainly put the brakes on the appeals process. Who in their right mind will appeal against a fixed penalty notice, no matter how convinced they are of their own innocence, if it could end in a £10,000 fine?

And while those who break the law need to bear in mind the consequences of their actions, the level of punishment also has to fit the crime.

What do you think? Do we need the higher fines to deter speeding motorists? Or are these new fines a way to deter the appeals process? Let us know…

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