There have recently been some changes made to the guidelines that magistrates use to decide how much money those who have been caught speeding should be fined. While the new directions were announced on January 24, they won’t come into effect until April 24.
What’s changed then?
Under the revised guidelines, magistrates are now being told they should penalise the most serious speeding offenders with a fine in the Band C bracket. With Band C fines, the starting point for determining how much the fine will be is 150 per cent of the offender’s weekly income.
What exactly is a serious speeding offence?
This is relative to what the posted speed limit is. To be liable for a Band C fine, a speeding driver must be travelling excessively faster than the limit for the area.
Where the speed limit is 20mph, an offender would have to be travelling at 41mph or faster. For a 70mph zone, that person would need to be travelling in excess of 101mph.
The full Band C fine sentencing range is as follows:
What will I pay if I get caught?
This ultimately depends on how much money you earn annually. Say you’re on a £25,000 salary, a Band C fine will start at roughly £720. Don’t forget though, this will either go up or down based on your annual income.
That said, it is recommended that magistrates cap the fines they issue at a maximum of £1,000, or £2,500 if a motorist was caught speeding on the motorway. As a result, individuals who pocket more than approximately £47,000 each year will never have to pay more than £1,000 (unless they’re caught breaking the speed limit on a motorway). Because of this, people who earn less money could be seen to be disproportionately punished under the new guidelines than their higher earning peers.
Do magistrates have any room to increase or decrease a fine from its starting point?
Yes. Magistrates have the power to increase or decrease a fine once they have taken any aggravating or mitigating factors into account. Factors that could be classed as aggravating include an offender’s previous convictions, or if the speeding offence took place while they were on bail.
A clean criminal record, or the establishment of a genuine emergency could be seen as mitigating factors, and might influence a magistrate to lower a fine.
With aggravating or mitigating factors taken into account, a Band C fine could be increased from 150 per cent to 175 per cent of the offender’s weekly salary, or lowered to 125 per cent.
Fines can be further reduced again if there are any factors that would indicate a reduction. This might include the defendant assisting the investigator or prosecutor, or if they enter a guilty plea.
What other penalties might be incurred?
Although you might only be fined as much as £2,500 for speeding, magistrates have the ability to punish you in other ways as well. They could disqualify you from driving temporarily – or even permanently – or they could add points to your licence. If you receive too many points on your licence, this will also lead to a disqualification from driving.
The most important thing to remember, however, is that speeding laws have been put in place for a good reason. They are there to keep motorists, pedestrians and passengers safe. The easiest way to prevent yourself from getting hit with a fine is to stay within the posted speed limit.