Under new laws drivers could face fines four times larger they do at present, with some offences carrying a maximum penalty of up to £10,000.
As for the so-called ‘level five’ offences such as careless driving, driving without insurance and drink driving, the maximum fine becomes “unlimited”.
Unsurprisingly the news has been met with dismay from a number of motoring organisations. Robert Lipton, director of the National Motorists Action Group, told the Daily Telegraph the move was “disproportionate and draconian.” While Edmund King, President of the RAC said: “For the vast majority of drivers the prospect of the existing £2,500 fine is a pretty good deterrent against excessive speeding on the motorway.”
But what do these possible changes mean for motorists and what are the chances of actually being hit with a fine of up to £10,000?
Principle partner and founder of Caddick Davies Neil Davies explains more.
“Clearly proposals to increase the maximum fines which magistrates can impose for offences will impact upon the motorist, because the vast majority of everyday motoring offences such as speeding, careless driving and driving without insurance are dealt with by way of fines.
“So for instance, the maximum fine for speeding on a road will increase from £1000 to £4,000, on a motorway from £2,500 to £10,000, whilst driving with no insurance and careless driving will both increase from £5,000 to an unlimited fine.
“At present however, the law requires the court to take account of a person’s means (their ability to pay) when considering the appropriate fine and the court is guided by the Magistrates Sentencing Council Guidelines to impose fines as a proportion of a person’s income.
“The guideline for a person speeding at 45mph within a 30mph speed limit is to impose a fine equivalent to one week’s net income or take home pay.
“This means that whilst the maximum fine for speeding will now be £4,000, if a person only earns £500 a week, their fine should remain at £500.00.
“Where the new maximum fines will impact however, is on those with higher incomes and will perhaps directly impact upon the likes of footballers.
“Under the current law a footballer earning £100,000 per week and speeding on a motorway could only be fined £2,500, whereas under the new proposals that same footballer could now be fined £10,000.
“What should also be noted is that when a person pleads guilty at the earliest opportunity the law requires that a 1/3 reduction is given as credit for a guilty plea. This means that in the majority of cases where a guilty plea is entered the maximum fine will never be imposed, owing to the requirement of this reduction.”
Below are examples of how these changes will affect motoring fines if the legislation is passed:
- Speeding (otherwise than on a motorway) – £1,000 increased to £4,000.00
- Speeding (on a motorway) – £2,500.00 increased to £10,000.00
- No Insurance – £5,000.00 increased to Unlimited
- Using a Mobile Phone – £1,000.00 increased to £4,000.00
- Failing to give Driver Information – £1,000.00 increased to £4,000.00
- Driving otherwise than in Accordance with a Licence – £1000.00 increased to £4,000.00
- Careless Driving – £5,000.00 increased to Unlimited
- Drink Driving – £5,000.00 increased to Unlimited