Stricter punishments for speeding offences come into force


24 April 2017

By Roger Brice

Stricter punishments have become available to magistrates in England and Wales under the sentencing guidelines for drivers caught speeding.

Some 244 people were killed in 2015 on British roads as a result of speeding drivers.

The Sentencing Council hope that the increase in penalties will match the increasing seriousness of speeding offences.

Fines for the following offences will now start from 150% of the offenders' weekly income (up from 100% previously):-

  • Travelling at 51 miles per hour (mph) or more in a 30-mph zone;
  • Travelling at 41-mph or more in a 20-mph zone;
  • Travelling at 101-mph or more on the motorway

However, a limit of £1,000 remains as the maximum fine available, except for speeding offences on the motorway, in which case the maximum is £1,500.

The changes follow a consultation which concluded that previous guidelines did not properly take into account the increase in potential harm which follows the faster a driver is speeding over the limit.

AA president, Edmund King, said that it will only be those who deliberately drive dangerously who will end up in court.

RAC Foundation director, Steve Gooding, said that the harsher punishments reflect how seriously courts take speeding offences, but that the limit on fines currently imposed means there is not a "level playing field" because high-income drivers will not be so affected by the fines imposed on them. He also questioned whether the police have the resources to ensure tougher punishments have an impact on road safety.

Judges and magistrates must follow the sentencing guidelines unless they find that it is not in the interest of justice to do so. It will be open to them to hand down sentences outside of the guideline limits in exceptional cases if they believe that the guidelines prevent the correct sentence being given.

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This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues