Motorists found guilty of the most dangerous speeding offences face being fined as much as 175% of their weekly income as new magistrates’ court rules come into effect.
New sentencing guidelines have been introduced in England in Wales which mean that motorists found guilty of excessive speeding face far tougher penalties.
The changes, which took effect on Monday 24 April, are designed to reflect the significantly increased danger posed by the most reckless drivers.
Higher proportion of income
Magistrates have been given the power to impose fines that start at 150% of an offender’s weekly income rather than 100% as was the case previously.
This means that, for someone earning £30,000 a year or £577 a week, the starting fine has risen from £577 to £866.
The change was announced by the Sentencing Council in January as part of reforms to the minimum sentences for a range of offences, including animal cruelty and rail-fare dodging.
With regard to speeding, the council felt that the previous guidelines “did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases”.
Who faces increased fines?
The higher penalties will apply to drivers whose speeding offence falls into the most serious category, known as Band C.
This applies to motorists who are caught driving well in excess of the limit on a particular road.
So someone speeding at 51mph or faster in a 30mph zone would be committing a Band C offence, as would someone driving at 91mph on a 60mph national speed limit road or at 101mph on a dual carriageway or motorway.
Magistrates can increase Band C fines to 175% of the offender’s weekly income in the most serious cases, although fines can equally be reduced to 125% if there are mitigating circumstances.
Higher fines to reflect more serious offences
A Sentencing Council spokesman said: “The council has 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.”
Malcolm Richardson, National Chairman of the Magistrates Association, added: “These new guidelines will further help ensure the consistent effectiveness of the magistracy, which is shown by the fact that under 1% of sentences are currently appealed.”
In addition to the fines, Band C offenders face driving bans of between one and eight weeks, or alternatively may have six penalty points added to their licence.
While the potential penalties in terms of weekly income have increased, the upper limits for fines remain the same: these are £1,000 for non-motorway speeding and £2,500 for those caught on the motorway.
Minimum penalty remains unchanged
The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points added to the offender’s licence.
This applies to Band A offences, which include travelling at 31-40mph in a 30mph zone or no more than 90mph on the motorway, for example.
The Band A starting fine is set at 50% of weekly income or £100, whichever is higher.
Drivers who are caught doing between 41mph and 50mph in a 30mph zone or between 91mph and 100mph on the motorway are guilty of Band B offences.
Points or a driving ban
The sentencing guidelines dictate that the punishment here is either between four and six penalty points, or a driving ban of up to four weeks.
The starting fine for Band B offences is 100% of weekly income.
As with any income-based fine, the amount can be increased or decreased depending on whether the magistrate concerned believes there are any aggravating or mitigating factors.
Aggravating factors may include previous convictions, poor weather conditions and the location where the offence took place – for example if it was near a school or hospital.
On the other hand, magistrates can reduce fines for offenders with no record of lawbreaking or where there was a genuine emergency.
Speeding fine calculator
To help you work out what these new fines might be, we've made a speeding fine calculator.
Just enter your annual salary and select a speed limit. Then you can see how much you could be fined depending on how fast you're driving.