Changes to traffic offences

Motorists are set to face further penalties following a number of recent government announcements.

Firstly, the police have been given additional powers to issue on-the-spot fines for careless driving offences, which now also covers issues such as tailgating or hogging the middle lane on motorways.

While this will mean motorists face an immediate fine of £100 and three penalty points or the opportunity to attend a driving course, the full legal process will still apply in more serious cases. Furthermore, drivers can still appeal against any decisions through the courts.

Given that these powers will negate the need for lengthy court procedures in less serious cases, motorists that currently escape punishment could get caught out by the new regime.

Secondly, the government has increased the fixed penalties for many motoring offences. Motorists using a mobile phone while driving or not wearing a seatbelt will now face a £100 fine, while the fixed penalty notice for driving with no insurance has risen to £300.

In addition, a £30 non-endorsable fixed penalty notice or fine has increased to £50, while endorsable and non-endorsable fixed penalty notices or fines of £60, £120 and £200 have risen to £100, £200 and £300 respectively.

Finally, the government is set to make it easier to prosecute people who drive under the influence of illegal drugs by introducing a new offence of driving with a drug in the body, over certain levels.

The proposals, which are being consulted on until 17th September 2013, would enable the police to carry out three saliva tests on an individual, before requiring a blood sample if the initial tests proved positive.

A zero tolerance approach will be taken to eight controlled drugs, including cannabis, cocaine and ketamine, and a road safety risk based approach to eight other controlled drugs, such as diazepam, methadone and morphine, which have medical uses.

For further advice on these changes or any other road traffic matter, please contact Jeremy Sirrell.