£100 is still the most likely fine you’ll pay for speeding
A lot of headlines about new speeding fines have centred around new fines of up to £2,500.
But very few people will face this as a fine as it only applies to the most serious of the new bands, Band C.
And, crucially, it only applies to cases that are taken to court.
In the UK, the vast majority of fines are dealt with using a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) of a £100 fine and three points on their licence.
Even with the new fines in place, the vast majority of people will continue to receive this fine and penalty.
Read to the end to find out why we think the new fines have been introduced.
Few people are going to face £2,500 fines
Despite lurid headlines from the national and even the motoring press, the fines most of us will pay have not gone up, and there has only been a marginal change for most people with the new rules.
Prior to April 24th, the maximum fine was 100% of your weekly salary, capped at £1,000. This has now gone up to £150% (magistrates are allowed to increase this to 175% for very serious offences) with the cap increasing to £2,500.
You will only be paying this if you are a high earner and your speed was calculated at anywhere from 20mph above the speed limit in built up areas to 30mph above the National speed limits. Ie, only the most serious offences.
But, and here’s the bit that most of the headlines skip over, the new fines ONLY apply to cases that are taken to court.
Most people will get the standard fine
Nearly 800,000 people were caught speeding last year, the vast majority for minor offences that did not require a trip to court.
The new fines apply when the police feel the offence is serious or when repeat offenders need to learn an expensive lesson.
Even after April 24th the vast majority of offences are still likely to be dealt with via a Fixed Penalty Notice. So that’s still £100 and three points.
If you are lucky, and live in an area where the local police force uses Speed Awareness Courses, you won’t even need to collect the points.
And if the FPN arrives after 14 days, you don’t have to pay, unless you have been issued with a court summons, in which case the new fines do become more serious, with the average fine likely to be around £440.
Whatever you do, don’t ignore an FPN that has arrived within 14 days, as that will certainly lead to an expensive court appearance.
£440 is the average if it goes to court
Assuming that many offenders will be close to earning the average UK salary, the fine for speeding in Band A, the least serious of the new bands, will be £440, also assuming that the majority of fines will be in Band A.
Where an offender cannot or will not produce evidence of income, and the court has little or no information to go on, the fine will automatically be based on the prevailing national median pre-tax earnings, which has been calculated by the Government to be £440 per week.
If the court has reason to believe you are earning much less that the median salary, the fine will be calculated at £120, and this is the lowest fine that can be imposed by the magistrate.
The courts are ordered to take no account of tax credits, housing benefit, child benefit or other similar benefits.
The figures were calculated upon the 2012-13 Survey of Personal Incomes using economic assumptions consistent with the Office for Budget Responsibility’s March 2015 economic and fiscal outlook.
The information comes from the Sentencing Council, the body within the Ministry of Justice responsible for promoting greater transparency and consistency in sentencing in England and Wales.
According to the Council, fines should be based on income received after the payment of tax and National Insurance (your ‘take home’ pay).
So why has there been a ‘big increase’?
While we firmly agree with efforts to reduce speeding in built up areas and accident black spots, we don’t believe this is why the new fines have been introduced.
The new guidelines only apply to cases taken to court.
The UK court system is under severe strain. The Ministry of Justice has been clear that it would like to see fewer cases reach expensive court processes.
The police too, with overstretched resources, want to see fewer officers attending court for traffic offences when they need to be out on patrol.
It’s our belief that the new fines have been introduced to dissuade drivers from attempting to argue innocence in court. Remember, the fines are ONLY applied if the case is taken to court.
You can only be taken to court if either the police feel your offence was serious enough to warrant a court appearance and the higher fine, or if you decide to challenge the Fixed Penalty Notice by taking your case to court.
If fines were to be introduced to dissuade drivers and riders from speeding in the first place, the Fixed Penalty would rise significantly. It has not.
If you have found yourself in court, on a massive fine
TBH, you probably deserve it.
Get yourself sorted:
If your offence was minor it may be better to simply accept the standard fine and not have your day in court, unless you have a very solid case to say the recorded speed was not what the police are claiming against you.