Drivers caught breaking the speed limit on the motorway could soon be facing up to £10,000 in fines.
Increase in maximum fines
This comes a government announcement of a fourfold increase in the maximum fines that magistrates can dish out.
Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said that the massive hike is part of government proposals to give judges greater power to deal with, and punish, crimes dealt with in the lower courts and there could also be a steep increase in the size of fines for other driving offences, including drink driving and driving without insurance.
Some motoring groups have labelled the new fines as disproportionate and unnecessary, and there are also fears that motorists could be put off challenging unfair speeding tickets.
Pete Williams, head of external affairs at the RAC, said: “What we’re seeing is an ever-increasing level of fines and penalties for motorists coming out of Whitehall with little-to-no improvement in how these are enforced.”
Mr Williams continued: “While legislation clearly needs to act as a deterrent, there seems little point in making such massive hikes without the proper infrastructure to back it up. Many motorists who do speed or use their mobile at the wheel don’t think they will get caught despite the already significant fines.
“When will we hear the government is investing in better road safety awareness campaigns and police on the roads, rather than just doling out what looks like revenue-boosting punishment?”
On the spot parking fines
The increase comes after the government announced a crackdown on motoring offences a year ago, with an increase in harsher penalties and a rise in on the spot parking fines.
The maximum fine that motorway speeders can currently face is £2,500, plus the prospect of higher insurance premiums in the future.
However, under the proposed changes the maximums in each category will increase from: £200 to £800 for a Level 1 offence, which includes unauthorised cycle racing on public ways.
A Level 2 offence, which includes driving a motor cycle without a protective helmet, will now cost £2,000 instead of £500 while a Level 3 will increase from £1,000 to £4,000 for the sale of alcohol to a drunk person or being drunk and disorderly in a public place.
Finally, a Level 4 offence which includes speeding on the motorway will increase from £2,500 to a maximum of £10,000, along with the hike in insurance costs associated with such an offence. A full list of Highway Code penalties is available on the government’s official website.
Mr Wright said: “Financial penalties set at the right level can be an effective way of punishing criminals and deterring them from further offending.
“Magistrates are the cornerstone of our justice system and these changes will provide them with greater powers to deal with the day-to-day offences that impact their local communities.”
The amount of fines collected reached an all-time high of “284 million by the end of last year, and figures show that it remains on an upward course.