The Sentencing Council which provides guidance to the Courts on how to sentence speeding motorists (as well as all other offences) has just released new guidance, effective from the 24 April 2017 and drivers need to be aware of this. Magistrates Courts will impose much higher fines for serious offenders and it could come as a serious surprise to many. In Kent alone the Clacket Lane cameras on the M25 catch a substantial number of drivers exceeding 100 mph by a comfortable margin, and they will face much tougher sanctions.
Current sentencing explained
This is often a mystery to people and best explained with a simple table.
|Speed Limit (mph)||Recorded Speed (mph)|
|20||41 and above||31-40||21-30|
|30||51 and above||41-50||31-40|
|40||66 and above||56-65||41-55|
|50||76 and above||66-75||51-65|
|60||91 and above||81-90||61-80|
|70||101 and above||91-100||71-90|
|Sentencing Range||Band B Fine||Band B Fine||Band A Fine|
Disqualification for 7-56 days
OR 6 points
Disqualification for 7-28 days
OR 4-6 points
The maximum fine for speeding on a motorway is £2,500 and elsewhere its £1,000. These will not change. Penalty points range from 3 to 6 and for higher speeds the court has a discretion to disqualify as well as fine. Penalty points remain the same.
Drivers who plead guilty at the first available opportunity will receive a one third reduction in fine.
Applicable speed limits are divided into sections as the table above shows. Fines are assessed when the court considers a driver’s financial circumstances. Everyone has to fill out a means form. Currently, high speeders receive a Band B fine which is between 75% and 125% of relevant earnings. For those in work as employees or self employed, relevant earnings are what’s left from weekly earnings after tax. The starting point is 100% and the court goes up or down depending on the absence or presence of aggravating circumstances, such as poor weather, heavy traffic, carrying a passenger, bad driving along with high speed, and of course previous convictions.
With effect from 24 April 2017 the fine for the highest bracket will go up from a Band B fine to a Band C fine for which the starting point is 150% of relevant earnings.
The courts can of course go above that if they want to, and I believe they will. The change is a clear encouragement to become much tougher on offenders. This has been slowly happening for quite some time anyway, but this makes it much more formal. With increased penalties for mobile telephone use, you can see the clear trend.
What seems likely is that more maximum fines will be imposed by the Courts.
Drivers have 3 months to understand the changes before they bite, as they surely will.