DRIVERS ARE bracing themselves for a sharp increase in fines for a range of motoring offences as the government looks to give magistrates greater powers to deal with day-to-day offences.
The maximum fine for speeding on the motorway could rise from £2,500 to £10,000. The same fine would apply to stopping on the hard shoulder and reversing or driving the wrong way on a slip road.
Also increasing sharply from £1,000 to £4,000 would be fines for using a mobile phone while driving, dangerous parking or failure to comply with a traffic sign.
The increase in fines would be accompanied by a change in the way they are applied and calculated. At present, magistrates decide the level of penalty according to guidelines, taking into account the seriousness of the offence.
Under the proposed system the offences would be graded, with level five being the most serious and attracting an unlimited fine. Speeding on a motorway would be a level four offence.
Jeremy Wright, the justice minister, said: “Financial penalties set at the right level can be an effective way of punishing criminals and deterring them from further offending.”
But motoring groups said the proposed increases were too harsh.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, said: “For the vast of majority of drivers, the prospect of the existing £2,500 fine is a pretty good deterrent against excessive speeding on the motorway. One has to question whether increasing the fine fourfold is proportionate, and it probably is not.”
The argument for raising fines won’t have been harmed by news, reported by Driving, of drivers caught speeding excessively in the past 12 months by fixed cameras. In one case, a motorist was photographed travelling at 149mph on the M25.