New Penalties Could See Thousands Banned From Driving

As the Government’s recently amended sentencing guidelines for speeding offences start to kick in Gary from Fixed Penalty Advice looks at the impact this can have on the ordinary motorist.

At the end of April 2017 the Government introduced new Sentencing Guidelines for speeding offences, with the most commented on change being the increase in fines. However, in most articles written about this the most significant change has been overlooked. For an unknown reason most commentators ignored the one thing that could have a significant effect on numerous people’s driving careers.

Let’s take two examples

James was caught driving on the motorway in March 2017 at 96mph. As he was just over the threshold for a speed awareness course or fixed penalty notice and James faced his day in court. He would have been likely to receive 4 points as this was at the lower end of the mid range for speeding offences where 4-6 points was the suggested punishment. He would also have received an income dependant fine

Hollie was caught driving on the same motorway in June 2017 at 96mph. She would also have to face court as she was just over the threshold for a speed awareness course or fixed penalty notice. She would face the exact same magistrates who would look at the new guidelines and would be likely to disqualify Hollie from driving.

Why has Hollie been treated so differently to James? Their speed was the same, the road was the same, in fact nothing was different about their cases apart from the date. James committed his offence before the changes to the sentencing guidelines and kept his driving licence, Hollie was not so lucky.

So what has actually changed? Well it all comes down to a very small change in wording, but a very significant change. Whereas before the sentencing guidelines for magistrates when dealing with ‘mid range’ speeding offences stated 4 – 6 points OR Disqualify for 7 – 28 days they have now changed, very subtly, to Disqualify for 7 – 28 days OR 4 – 6 points.

New Guidelines

Speed limit (mph) Recorded speed (mph)
20 21 – 30 31 – 40 41 – 50
30 31 – 40 41 – 50 51 – 60
40 41 – 55 56 – 65 66 – 75
50 51 – 65 66 – 75 76 – 85
60 61 – 80 81 – 90 91 – 100
70 71 – 90 91 – 100 101 – 110
Starting point Band A fine Band B fine Band B fine
Range Band A fine Band B fine Band B fine
Points/disqualification 3 points Disqualify 7 – 28 days
OR
4 – 6 points
Disqualify 7 – 56 days
OR
6 Points

Old Guidelines

Speed limit (mph) Recorded speed (mph)
20 21 – 30 31 – 40 41 +
30 31 – 40 41 – 50 51 +
40 41 – 55 56 – 65 66 +
50 51 – 65 66 – 75 76 +
60 61 – 80 81 – 90 91+
70 71 – 90 91 – 100 101 +
Range Band A fine Band B fine Band C fine
Points/disqualification 3 points 4 – 6 points
OR
Disqualify 7 – 28 days
Disqualify 7 – 56 days
OR
6 points

What does this change of order mean? Could it be just a typo, an unintentional change without any significance? Unfortunately for any motorists caught at these speeds the answer is no. The precedent is clear from the previous sentencing guidelines which very deliberately laid out for ‘mid range’ speeding offences it was 4-6 points first with potential disqualification for 7-28 days if justified, which contrasted with the ‘high range’ speeding offences which were Disqualify for 7-56 days or 6 points if justified.

The order of the words indicating the order in which magistrates should consider the options, and which led to the common rule of thumb that over 100mph on a motorway was into ban territory.

With the new sentencing guidelines the ‘mid range’ offences now start with the magistrates considering a ban and having the option of points instead if justifiable. This is really quite a significant change, it now means that hundreds of thousands of motorists could be attending court for mid range offences facing a ban when 6 months ago 4 points would have been a likely punishment.

Mid range offences such as 91mph on a motorway leaving you in a position where you have to find mitigating factors to avoid a ban, even for a first offence is likely to cause considerable problems for a huge number of motorists.