From today, drivers in England and Wales could face much tougher sentences when convicted of the most serious speeding offences.
Under new guidelines, the standard fine for any driver caught at 51mph in a 30-zone, or at 101mph on a motorway will start at 150 per cent of weekly income. This is an increase from the previous level of 100 per cent.
The Sentencing Council – responsible for setting sentencing guidelines for magistrates in England and Wales – said it wanted to set a ‘clear increase in penalty’. This, they say, follows an increase in the seriousness of offending.
In 2015, 255 people were killed in crashes where a driver was found to have broken the speed limit.
A new ‘Band C’ of fines will allow magistrates to impose fines of 125-175 per cent the offender’s weekly income. The maximum fine, however, remains the same at £1,000 unless the offence takes place on a motorway where the limit is £2,500.
Sentences for lesser offences are not set to change.
What are sentencing guidelines?
- Magistrates and judges must follow sentencing guidelines unless they believe doing so would not be in the ‘interests of justice’.
- Equally, if it is believed that the guidelines prevent the appropriate sentence being handed down, the magistrate or judge may discount the guidelines, but only under exceptional circumstances.
- Sentencing guidelines are based upon legislation set out by the government and can change when new legislation is put in place.
Paul Loughlin, a motoring offences solicitor at national law firm, Stephensons, said: “The new sentencing guidelines are designed to send out a clear message to drivers whose offences are at the extreme end of the spectrum.
“While penalty points and disqualifications are clearly a deterrent, the sentencing council and the government clearly believe they are insufficient to deal with the most serious of speeding offences. As such, the decision has been taken to ‘hit them in the pocket’. Whether or not this will have any effect upon the number of serious speeding incidents occurring on roads in England and Wales, remains to be seen.”
Find out more at Stephensons’ website: https://www.stephensons.co.uk/site/individuals/srvmotoring/motoverview/