New Driving Penalties

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In August 2013, new measures for on-the-spot fixed penalty notices for drivers who put other road users at risk with careless driving offences, such as tailgating or middle lane hogging came into force.

The changes are designed to give the police greater flexibility in dealing with less serious careless driving offences, freeing them from resource-intensive court processes at the same time.

The fixed penalty for careless driving is £100 with three points on the driver’s licence. The most serious examples will continue to go through court, where offenders may face higher penalties. In some cases the police will also be able to offer educational training as an alternative to endorsement.

In addition, existing fixed penalty levels for most motoring offences, including using a mobile phone at the wheel and not wearing a seat belt, rose to £100 to bring them into line with the penalties for similar non-motoring fixed driving penalties.

Drivers will still be able to appeal any decision in court.

Mr Hammond said: “Careless drivers are a menace and their negligence puts innocent people’s lives at risk. That is why we are making it easier for the police to tackle problem drivers by allowing them to immediately issue a fixed penalty notice rather than needing to take every offender to court.

We are also increasing penalties for a range of driving offences to a level that reflects their seriousness and that will ensure that they are consistent with other similar penalty offences.”

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The changes were introduced following extensive public consultation with road safety groups and police forces.

The road safety charity Brake and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have both welcomed the new penalties.

Charities welcome spot fines for careless driving 

Julie Townsend, the Deputy Chief Executive of Brake, said, “We welcome the introduction of on-the-spot fines for careless driving, to make it easier for police to catch and prosecute risky law-breaking drivers. We are also pleased to see a much-needed rise in driving offence fines, but think this doesn’t go far enough… £100 is not enough to pose a strong deterrent to potentially life-threatening behaviour, like using a mobile at the wheel.”

The charity is also calling on the Government to stem “worrying” cut-backs in traffic policing levels, arguing that traffic policing should be made a national policing priority, to ensure sufficient numbers of officers enforcing vital safety laws on roads.

The charity RoSPA also welcomed the changes, with Kevin Clinton, the organisation’s Head of Road Safety, calling for clarity on the subject, and pointing out, “there is a certain amount of subjectivity in deciding what constitutes ‘careless driving’ and what is sufficiently minor and suitable for a fixed driving penalty and what is more serious, meriting prosecution in court… Therefore, we hope to see a clear definition of the sorts of ‘careless driving’ that may result in a fixed driving penalty notice and the reasons why, publicised widely”.

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