A new higher penalty for the most serious speeding offenders is one of a number of new sentencing guidelines for magistrates published today (24 January) by the Sentencing Council.
The increased penalty will come into effect in April 2017 following a consultation by the Sentencing Council, in which respondents said that the previous guidelines did not ‘properly take into account the increase in potential harm that can result as speed above the speed limit increases’.
The Sentencing Council has increased the penalty for the top band of seriousness to ensure there is ‘clear increase in fine level’ as the seriousness of offending increases.
Under the new guidelines, fines for offenders will start at 150% of weekly income rather than the existing level of 100%.
The Sentencing Council says it is introducing the new guidelines ‘to reflect changes in the law since magistrates’ guidelines were last updated in 2008’.
Sentencing Council member and district judge Richard Williams said: “The magistrates’ courts deal with the vast majority of offenders in England and Wales, so it is essential that the guidelines they use are up to date and help ensure that sentences are applied consistently and effectively.
“We have listened to the views of magistrates, criminal justice professionals and others with an interest in particular offence types in developing these guidelines.”
Road Safety GB has met the announcement with a cautious optimism, and urges those passing sentence to consider the seriousness of speeding.
Sonya Hurt, chair of Road Safety GB, said: "It is worth remembering that this a raising of the maximum tariff for the offence within sentencing guidelines.
"Whilst Road Safety GB welcomes this we would encourage those passing sentence to consider the seriousness of chosen behaviours such as excessive speeding and the potential consequences for themselves and other innocent road users."
The RAC has welcomed the change in sentencing guidelines, expressing its hope that increased fines will make people ‘think twice before doing it again’.
Pete Williams, road safety spokesperson, said: "We welcome the change in sentencing guidelines for gross speeders. Anyone who breaks the limit excessively is a danger to every other road user and is unnecessarily putting lives at risk.
“Hopefully, hitting these offenders harder in the pocket will make them think twice before doing it again in the future.
“While greater sentences for excessive speeders are obviously a deterrent, the best deterrent of all is more effective enforcement.”
GEM Motoring Assist has also shown its support, saying that the increased penalties would send the right message to drivers about the dangers of driving too fast.
Neil Worth, road safety officer, said: "If more people complied with speed limits, there would be fewer deaths and injuries on our roads; it’s as simple as that. We therefore welcome the increase in fines, as we know the enforcement of speed limits plays a vital role in road safety.
“As drivers and riders, we are all responsible for the speeds we choose. No one can tell us to break the speed limit. So we urge every driver and rider to take that responsibility seriously and to play their part in making our roads safer.”