Changes to punishments for speeding have kicked in this week
And they are much harsher, being based on a person’s income more than ever before. They could see motorists fined
more than their weekly income in a bid to deter them from breaking the law in the first place. It’s the latest change to affect drivers, with new tax rules
in place as well.
The new sentencing guidelines for the worst offenders came in on Monday, April 24, in a bid to make them ‘think twice’. The new fines have been widely welcomed. Pete Williams, from the RAC, said: "Anyone who breaks the limit excessively is a danger to every other road user and is unnecessarily putting lives at risk.
"Hopefully, hitting these offenders harder in the pocket will make them think twice before doing it again in the future."
Road safety and breakdown recovery provider GEM Motoring Assist also welcomed the change. GEM road safety officer Neil Worth said: “Illegal or inappropriate speeds remain a significant road safety problem. If more people complied with speed limits, there would be fewer deaths and injuries on our roads; it’s as simple as that. We therefore welcome the increase in fines, as we know the enforcement of speed limits plays a vital role in road safety.
“As drivers and riders, we are all responsible for the speeds we choose. No one can tell us to break the speed limit. So we urge every driver and rider to take that responsibility seriously and to play their part in making our roads safer.”
Louise Ellman, chairman of the Commons Transport Committee, also welcomed the changes. But she added: "For enforcement to be successful, there must be the likelihood that offenders will be caught and prosecuted.” She said a declining number of dedicated road traffic police officers was of “real concern”.
Why the changes and what will be different?
It all started with a Sentencing Council consultation in 2016 that put forward the argument that the existing guidelines didn’t consider the potential harm of speeding to the British
That’s now been tackled and, while maximum fines for motorway offences remain at £2,500 and £1,000 for other roads, drivers going well above the speed limit will face fines that start from 150 per cent of their weekly income, rather than 100 per cent.
This is all about the most serious offenders. If someone, for example, is caught doing 101mph or more on a 70mph road they will fit into the higher bracket. Motorists will continue to face points or disqualification as well.
The Sentencing Council said the move aims to ensure there is a "clear increase in penalty as the seriousness of offending increases".
Fines are determined in categories - a Band A fine is 50% of someone's weekly income, Band B is 100% and Band C is 150%.
Everyone is affected as of April 24, regardless on when the offence took place – so if you broke the law in March you will be subject to the new guidelines if you’ve yet to be sentenced.
A fair few of us will have been caught speeding during our driving lives
, but usually at the lower level where we get a fixed penalty notice drop through our letterboxes.
That, simply, is a £100 fine and three points on your licence. However, if you reject the FPN or break the speed limit by too high a margin, you’ll end up in court, with the maximum fines referred to earlier on the table and the possibility of disqualification.
There are three bands of offence:
Band A: for example 21mph to 30mph in a 20mph zone; 31mph to 40mph in a 30mph zone or 71mph to 90mph on a 70mph road. Three points on your licence and a fine of 50 per cent of your weekly income.
Band B: for example 31mph to 40mph in a 20mph zone; 56mph to 65mph in a 40mph zone, or up to 100mph in a 70mph zone. Four to six points on your licence or disqualification from between seven and 28 days, as well as a fine of 100 per cent of your weekly income.
Band C: these are the most serious offences, for example 41mph or above in a 20mph zone; 51mph or above in a 30mph zone; above 100mph in a 70mph zone. That means six points on your licence or a disqualification of between seven and 56 days, as well as a fine of 150 per cent of your weekly income.
It’s worth remembering that this is only a guide and everything is flexible and determined by a magistrate. Mitigating circumstances could reduce the penalty – for example showing that it happened during a genuine emergency, a lack of previous convictions and good character. Aggravating factors, such as previous convictions, speeding while driving professionally, or with passengers, could increase the penalty.
Speed awareness courses
Most police forces offer the alternative of a speed awareness course. It’s at the force’s discretion and will depend on the gravity of the offences. While it will mean that you won’t get any points on your licence or a fine, it will cost a fair bit to take the course.