UK Road Traffic Sentencing Guidelines Get Tougher on 24th April 2017

 

Motoring Offence Penalties, Fines & Disqualifications Are Rising

There are new sentencing guidelines coming into force on 24 April. The guidelines apply to all who are sentenced on or after 24 April 2017, regardless of the date of the offence. So for cases in court on or after this date, the defendant will be subject to these new guidelines.

There are quite a few changes so we have included links to each of the amended.

The major change that is affecting the majority of offences is that they are now being considered as category 1, category 2 and category 3 offences. Category 1 offences are cases that include higher culpability and greater harm, category 2 offences include either higher culpability or greater harm, but not both, and category 3 offences are cases that include neither. For each offence there is then a list of factors that would constitute higher culpability and greater harm.

Some of the major changes are outlined below;

Careless driving – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.3

  • factors indicating higher culpability/greater harm have changed, the court will take into account injury/damage when deciding what bracket to sentence in. Whereas before if someone was injured due to a minor mistake by the driver this could still lead to 3-4 points being awarded, now regardless of the cause of the incident, if injury is sustained then the guilty driver could have 5-6 points imposed.

Drive whilst disqualified – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.103

  • factors indicating higher culpability/greater harm have changed, bad driving will now be taken into account

Excess alcohol (drive/attempt) – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5(1)(a)

Excess alcohol (in charge) – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.5(1)(b)

Fail to provide specimen for analysis (drive/attempt) – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7(6)

Fail to provide specimen for analysis (in charge) – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.7(6)

Fail to stop/report road accident – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.170(4)

  • If the Court deem the matter to be a category 2 offence (currently middle bracket) , the court will now initially consider a disqualification up to 6 months OR 7-8 penalty points. Whereas currently the Court are advised initially to consider imposing points initially before considering banning the offender.
  • factors indicating higher culpability include trying to evade a breath/saliva test and evading arrest. There is often a strong inference of trying to evade a drink-driving/drug driving charge when someone flees the scene of an accident especially late at night.

No insurance – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.143

  • previously there was only one bracket for sentencing, now there are three, categories 1, 2 and 3.
  • The court will consider the culpability and harm. This includes if the driver has never       passed their test, or if the driver has had an accident.
  • The sentencing guidelines have also changed – A category 1 offence will be 6 to 8 penalty points, a category 2 offence will be disqualification up to 6 months OR 8 points and category 3 will be disqualification 6-12 months e.g. a person who is driving absolutely perfectly but has never passed their test will be at risk of either 8 points or disqualification of up to 6 months, a person who has never passed their test and has been involved in an accident will be at risk of a 6-12 month disqualification.

Speeding – Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, s.89(1)

  • The top bracket of the guidelines has changed, there is now no limit to this bracket, the 3rd bracket for the 70mph limit is now “101 and above” and recommends a 7 to 56 day disqualification (but note it states offences committed grossly in excess of the speed limit can exceed the 56 days)
  • For middle bracket offences the suggestion is now to consider a disqualification BEFORE penalty points “consider dq 7-28 days OR 4-6 points” , prior to the changes this was the other way round.
  • High level offences are now band C fines meaning that any fine imposed for a top bracket offence will lead to a fine being imposed that is up to 175% of your weekly income. Prior to the changes this was capped at 125%

Unfit through drink or drugs (drive/attempt) – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4(1)

Unfit through drink or drugs (in charge) – Road Traffic Act 1988, s.4(2)

The main link to the changes and new guidelines here:

http://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/news/item/revised-magistrates-court-sentencing-guidelines-published/

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