Speeding on a motorway could result in a £10,000 penalty following changes to the maximum level of fines that magistrates can impose.
New provisions being introduced under the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 would mean that for most offences, the maximum level of fine that magistrates can give would quadruple and there would be no limit on the fine where the current maximum is £5,000.
The changes mean that fines for motoring offences including riding a motorbike without a helmet would rise from £500 to £2,000 while for using a vehicle in a dangerous condition or speeding on a motorway the penalty would increase from £2,500 to £10,000.
Professor Stephen Glaister, director of transport and research organisation the RAC Foundation, said: “Fines must reflect offenders’ economic circumstances but where are the figures which show we have an epidemic of super-rich boy racers who will only be deterred by a four-fold increase in financial penalties?
“We do not condone law breaking but the onus will now be on magistrates to demonstrate how these new powers can be used in a proportionate way. The court must also take into account the financial circumstances of the offender; this applies whether it has the effect of increasing or reducing the fine.
“Normally a fine should be of an amount that is capable of being paid within 12 months [and] the aim is for the fine to have an equal impact on offenders with different financial circumstances.”
It has not been confirmed when the new regime will come into effect but it could be relatively quickly.
Jeremy Sirrell, Palmers’ road traffic offence specialist, said: “As Professor Glaister points out, the level of fine imposed should take into account the offender’s financial circumstances.
“With the potential for such substantial fines, seeking expert legal advice and representation may prove to be a wise investment in mitigating penalties. For more information on how Palmers can assist, please contact our Road Traffic Offences team.”