Higher fines and stricter punishments are hoped to deter offenders, following the introduction of new sentencing guidelines that are designed to reflect the severity of the offence and a driver’s weekly income.
The changes now apply to all speeding cases brought to magistrates’ courts, regardless of the date of the offence.
Magistrates have been given new sentencing guidelines based around three penalty bands. The most severe would see drivers caught travelling at over 101mph in a 70mph speed limit disqualified for up to 56 days and fined up to 175 per cent of their relevant weekly income.
The changes have been introduced to help tackle a rise in speeding offences, as some parts of the country experience record levels of speeding. Essex has recorded a 44 per cent rise in penalties over the past five years.
It means someone earning the average UK weekly wage of £507 could face a £760 fine for breaking the speed limit. And a driver earning twice as much could have to pay £1774. Previously, the maximum fine was 100 per cent of the offender’s weekly relevant wage.
The tougher guidelines have been issued by the Sentencing Council, however, critics claim that the changes will hurt the average driver most and have little impact on high earners. That’s because the maximum penalty permitted under current law is capped at £1000 on all roads except motorways, where it increases to £2500.
Speeding fines: new vs old
Under old rules, a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points was handed to speeders. That remains in place under the new rules.
And the maximum fine remains unchanged from before, at £1000, or £2500 on motorways.
The main change concerns new rules permitting magistrates to charge offenders up to 175 per cent of their weekly relevant income, if driving at 21mph or more above the speed limit. Previously, the fine was capped at 100 per cent.
How the new speeding fines are calculated
Magistrates work to guidelines based around three bands: A, B and C, with C being the most serious. Each band relates to the driver’s excessive speed and is used to serve penalties based around a percentage of weekly wage.
Band A: applies to drivers caught travelling up to 10mph more than the speed limit. The fine is between 25 to 75 per cent of the weekly wage, and incurs three penalty points on a licence.
Band B: applies to drivers breaking the limit by 11-21mph. The fine is between 75 to 125 per cent of the weekly wage, and incurs four to six penalty points, or a driving ban of up to 28 days.
Band C: applies to drivers exceeding the speed limit by 21mph or more, and the fine ranges from 125 to 175 per cent of the weekly wage. Magistrates can apply a driving ban of up to 56 days (or more in cases of “gross excess”) and hand out six penalty points. View a breakdown of the speeding offences range.
Can drivers still take a speed awareness course?
Speed awareness courses will continue to be offered to first-time offenders and, as before, this will be at the discretion of the magistrates and according to the speeding offence.
It is likely to remain a popular option. In 2015, 1.2m drivers opted to take the course in place of three penalty points and a £100 fine. It lasts half a day and costs vary, between approximately £79 and £100.