Tougher penalties for the most serious speeding offences have been introduced in England and Wales. Here's what drivers need to know if you don't want that dreaded letter through the post...
Why has the speeding fine gone up?
The Sentencing Council has put a new fine system in place "to ensure that there is clear increase in fine level as the seriousness of offending increases". According to research by roadside assistance brand Green Flag, speeding offences have increased by 44 per cent over the last five years in some parts of the country and because of this, the new law has been hailed by some as a "welcome change".
"Responsible drivers will welcome the changes coming into force today," AA president Edmund King told the BBC.
"The majority of drivers who keep to the correct speed, as well as driving to the conditions, won't be affected. It is only those who deliberately drive dangerously who will end up in court."
How much will speeding fines be from 24 April 2017?
Previously, drivers caught speeding faced a minimum fine of £100 and three penalty points on their licence. The maximum fine was £1,000, or £2,500 if caught speeding on the motorway. Although these caps remain the same, the Council has revised the penalty system so that fines for the most serious offenders will start at 150 per cent of their weekly income rather than the existing level of 100 per cent. This applies to those who drive at 41mph or more where there is a 20mph limit, 51mph or more where there is a 30mph limit or over 101mph on a motorway. However, sentencing levels for less serious offences have not changed.
Speeding fines in UK have changed today to reflect dangers of the most serious speed offences- PC Dave Wise (@CopThatCooks) April 24, 2017
Here's a calculator you hopefully won't need pic.twitter.com/ZsMfj8VWsH
How does the new fine system work?
It's complicated, but in a nutshell, the fines have been divided into three bands – A, B and C – which correspond with how serious the speeding offence is.
Band A refers to the lowest level of speeding and includes those caught driving up to 10mph over the limit. For example, you could be driving at between 21mph and 30mph in a 20mph zone. The sentencing for this band is 3 points on your licence and a fine of around 50% of your weekly income.
Band B refers to offences where motorists reach 11-21 mph over the limit. For example, driving at 31mph to 40mph in a 20mph zone, or 56mph to 65mph in a 40mph zone. This will result in 4 to 6 points on your licence, or disqualification for between 7 and 28 days, as well as a fine of 100% of your weekly income.
Band C refers to the most serious driving offences and applies to those exceeding the speed limit by over 21 mph. For example, driving at 41mph or above in a 20mph zone or 51mph or above in a 30mph zone. This means 6 points on your licence or disqualification for between 7 and 56 days, plus a fine of 150% of your weekly income.
Is it possible to avoid paying a fine?
There is some flexibility and once the offence has been determined, the Council recommends that "the court should then consider further adjustment for any aggravating or mitigating factors". Mitigating factors, which could reduce the seriousness of the offence, include having no previous convictions, showing "good character" and establishing a genuine emergency.
As an alternative to a fine and points on your licence, most police forces also offer a speed awareness course. However, these can't be requested and are expensive to sign up to.
Find out more about the changes to speeding penalties at sentencingcouncil.org.uk.
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