Shake-up of speeding sentences

Tougher punishments will be meted out to those drivers who are convicted of the most serious speeding offences in England and Wales.

Under new sentencing guidelines, which take effect today (April 24th), the fines imposed on drivers who are caught travelling in excess of 51mph in a 30mph zone or 101mph on a motorway will start at 150 per cent of their weekly income.

Under the previous system, the starting point for penalties was 100 per cent of a defendant’s weekly earnings.

Motoring groups have broadly welcomed the new approach.

Edmund King, president of the AA, said: “Responsible drivers will welcome the changes coming into force today.

“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.”

While Gary Rae, the campaigns director for the road safety charity Brake, said: “I hope that magistrates ensure the new sentences are consistently applied.”

Commenting on the decision to impose more significant fines for the most flagrant breaches of the law, the Sentencing Council argued that previous guidelines had failed to take proper account of the fact that the potential to do serious harm increases the greater the speed that someone is travelling above the legal limit.

The organisation said that it wanted to send a clear message about the dangers involved.

That said, the maximum fines which can be imposed will remain at £1,000 (or £2,500 if the offence in question took place on the motorway).

Sentencing for less serious speeding offences will remain unchanged.