Magistrates’ Association issues warning over driving fines plan

10.36 | 18 August 2009 | | 1 comment

The Magistrates’ Association has expressed concerns at plans to allow police to issue on-the-spot fines for careless driving.

The proposals to make careless driving a fixed-penalty offence would see motorists given an on-the-spot fine and three points on their licence. Suspects are currently prosecuted in court and can be fined up to £5,000 and receive nine points.

John Thornhill, chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, said police would be acting as jury and sentencer if they were allowed to impose the fines. He is also concerned that people would pay to resolve the matter, not realising they were getting a conviction that would show up in future criminal record checks.
   
Mr Thornhill told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the idea of on-the-spot fines is "effectively saying that every case of careless driving is the same".

He added: "We have been investigating the use of out of court disposals, on-the-spot-fines for the last 12 months, and the evidence we have suggests that on many occasions, where the matter is serious police go for the easy option of the on-the-spot fine, because it’s done and dusted, dealt with there and then."

Click here to read the ful BBC news report. 

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    When consulted on this issue recently I commented that, as this is not an obsolute offence, it did not lend itself to be dealt with in this way. I agree with the Magistrates Association that, in cases of careless driving, the Police must not bee seen as judge and jury as this offence is open to interpretation. It is to be regretted that ACPO have taken the economic view based on the savings in time and money offered by this proposal. At a time when campaigners are attempting to reinstate roads policing as a significant police activity, this suggestion trivialises what can be a serious motoring offence.


    Roy Buchanan, Principal Road Safety Officer, Sutton
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