Careless driving and other fixed motoring penalties consultation

Posted by Tim Williamson on
The Department for Transport has today published the Government's response to consultation on the treatment of careless driving penalties and other motoring fixed penalties.

The consultation was initially launched on 14 June 2012 and in total, 383 responses were received.

As a result of this consultation, changes are being introduced to give the police powers to issue fixed penalty notices for careless driving. These changes were announced in a statement from the Road Safety Minister Stephen Hammond today. It is proposed that these changes will give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, such a tailgating or middle lane hogging, therefore removing the need to engage with the court system.

The fixed penalty for most motoring offences, which would include using a mobile phone whilst driving and not wearing a seatbelt, will increase to £100. This would bring the offences in line with penalties for similar non-motoring fixed penalties, such as disorder. This change is intended to reflect the serious nature of the offence.

The fixed penalty for careless driving will be £100 with three points on the driver's licence. However, the most serious examples will continue to go through the courts, where higher penalties are available.

Other fixed penalty notices are set to increase as follows:

  • a non-endorsable £30 fixed penalty notice will rise to £50
  • an endorsable £60 and non-endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice will rise to £100
  • an endorsable £120 Fixed Penalty Notice will rise to £200
  • the fixed penalty notice for driving with no insurance will rise from £200 to £300.

Similarly, graduated fixed penalties and financial deposits will also increase as follows:

  • a £30 non-endorsable fine will rise to £50
  • a £60 endorsable and non-endorsable fine will rise to £100
  • a £120 endorsable and non-endorsable fine will rise to £200
  • a £200 endorsable and non-endorsable fine will rise to £300.

The penalty points associated with these offences will not change, nor will fixed penalty notices for parking, waiting and obstruction offences.

The Department for Transport aims to bring these changes into force this July.

Road safety is paramount and measures which are aimed at improving road safety are always welcomed. However, the problem remains that the police still need to be present in order to tackle the problem and so a lot of careless driving will continue to go undetected and put other road users at risk.

A further issue is that motorists may dispute what the police say has happened, particularly as one person's opinion of middle lane hogging may differ from another's. The motorist is then faced with the decision of accepting the fixed penalty or appealing this decision and going to court. In cases where the only evidence comes from one police officer, then it will be that officer's word against the motorist's, which may well lead to more cases going to court, the opposite of what these changes are intended to achieve.

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Tim is a leading Criminal and Regulatory lawyer, who defends businesses and individuals under investigation by the police and regulatory bodies and when accused of criminal offences.

Tim Williamson
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