The government is set to give magistrates more power to deal with misdemeanour offences.
Fines for speeding could shoot up from £2,500 to £10,000. The government is considering giving more power to magistrates to deal with day-to-day offences such as speeding, stopping on the hard shoulder, reversing on a slip road or using a mobile phone while driving.
The change would result in a number of fines for these offences being inflated to four times their current amounts. The government believes a steeper financial deterrent would help encorecement and reduce reoffending rates. The Justice Minister, Jeremy Wright, said: “Financial penalties set at the right level can be an effective way of punishing criminals.”
The plans have been criticised by motoring groups, which have called the proposed increases ‘too harsh’. The fine for speeding on a motorway is likely to rise from £2,500 to £10,000, and using a mobile phone or parking dangerously is expected to go from £1,000 to £4,000. Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “One has to question whether increasing the fine fourfold is proportionate, and it is probably not.”
Recently the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) requested the maximum speeds of drivers caught by fixed cameras using the Freedom of Information Act. Its research revealed that of the 39 authorities that responded, the fastest driver caught between April 2013 and May 2014 was clocked doing 149mph on the M25. Under current guidelines, this would have resulted in an instance disqualification for a specific period and a fine.
The news comes as research shows the number of driving-related convictions has dropped dramatically. More cynical critics may suspect that motorists are once again being targeted to make up for the shortfall in government revenues.