‘Disproportionate’ fines for speeding motorists will act as an incentive for those caught to accept fixed penalties, the motoring solicitor dubbed Mr Loophole has suggested.
Nick Freeman of Manchester firm Freeman & Co said plans to quadruple the maximum fines for some motoring offences and create a penalty of £10,000 for speeding on a motorway will do nothing to improve road safety.
The provisions in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 to remove limits on magistrates’ fining powers are yet to come into force. Justice minister Jeremy Wright said they would not remove the option of custody in the most serious cases.
Richard Monkhouse, chairman of the Magistrates’ Association, which has sought greater sentencing powers, said the increased fining powers are a ‘welcome recognition’ of the role magistrates play in the justice system.
‘We hope that this signals a growing trend of trusting magistrates by allowing them the appropriate discretion to deliver local justice, and that other areas for sentencing powers will be examined too,’ he said.
Freeman said that the fines will act as an incentive for motorists to accept fixed penalties rather than challenging convictions.
He said the proposals have ‘crossed a line’ that criminalises motorists while decriminalising criminals. ‘Motorists will be given huge fines, while if you commit a burglary, you are likely to be cautioned,’ he said.
A mandatory 28-day ban for speeding drivers or greater police presence on the roads would be more effective, Freeman said.