The 24th of April marked the day when new traffic legislation came into force, including new speeding fines, which could potentially affect every motorist in the land – yet the changes seem almost to have gone unnoticed.
The changes relate to the penalties you may face if you are caught speeding and, in some cases, may rise by up to 50% more than their current levels – and, as with any other motoring offence, the record of a conviction may impact your car insurance.
The Sentencing Council
In fact, the story was first broken by the BBC in a report on the 24th of January 2017, which reviewed a number of decisions taken by the Sentencing Council.
This is the body which sets sentencing guidelines which any court of law needs to follow – unless there are overriding reasons for varying the penalty handed down.
The Council has a statutory duty to consult with parliament, but its primary role is to ensure sentences handed down by different courts are consistent with one another and are transparent, but also help to maintain the independence of the judiciary.
Amongst the revised guidelines affecting penalties for speeding, the Sentencing Council issued rules which include new speeding fines to be issued in the case of more serious speeding offences.
Serious cases are defined by the speed the driver was going over and above the speed limit for the relevant stretch of road, so that the definition includes any:
- 20mph restricted speed zone, where the driver travelling faster than 41 mph;
- 30mph zone, 51mph;
- 40mph zone, 66mph;
- 50mph zone, 76 to 85mph;
- 60mph zone, 91mph; and
- 70mph zone, 101mph.
In the future, you may be fined up to 150% of your weekly income if the courts find you guilty of such a serious speeding offence. The previous sentencing guidelines fixed the maximum penalty at 100% of your weekly income, subject to a maximum of £1,000 or £2,500 if the offence was committed on a motorway.
Although these maximum fines remain the same, if your annual salary is in the region of £50,000, you might still be fined as much as £1,000, or even more if you are caught speeding on the motorway.
Speeding fines in Europe
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail newspaper, in its edition on the 22nd of April 2017, recounted changes to speeding laws within the European Union which will make more British motorists driving there liable to pay new speeding fines.
Previously, enforcement of speeding penalties in Europe could only be done when you gave your details if you were stopped by police at the side of the road, or if you were driving a hire car, when the hire car company would have those same details.
With effect from the 7th of May, however, European jurisdictions will now be able to use all the records held by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) in Britain in order to trace your details.
They may do this not only in attempts to enforce speeding offences, but also offences such as failing to wear a seatbelt, using a mobile phone whilst you are driving or failure to stop at a red light.