Court Hearing & Sentencing Guidelines
What does the Court take into account when deciding on a penalty / fine?
The Court will take into account:
- The severity of the offence;
- The Defendant's past record;
- Any other circumstances that the Court feels should be taken into account e.g. aggravating factors;
- The Defendant's ability to pay, by referring to the Statement of Means Form (MC100).
- Sentencing Guidelines.
What are the Court sentencing guidelines / fine levels?
Whilst the Court receives suggested guidelines, the final outcome is entirely at the Court's discretion. Penalties for a speeding offence can range from 3 penalty points and £100 fine to 6 penalty points or disqualification and a fine up to £1,000 (£2,500 for motorway offences). The Court will calculate the fine based on the guidelines for that band for the offence and the Defendant's relevant weekly income (RWI).
|Court Guidelines Guidelines – Speeding|
|Speed Limit||Recorded Speed (mph)|
|Penalty||3 points||4-6 points OR
7-28 day ban
|7-56 day ban
OR 6 points
|Fine||50% of relevant weekly income||100% of relevant weekly income||150% of relevant weekly income|
6+ Points / New Driver
6+ Penalty Points
If you have 6+ penalty points, you may be at risk of a 6 month totting up ban.
If you passed your driving test less than 2 years before the offence, you may be at risk of revocation of your driving licence.
How is relevant weekly income (RWI) calculated?
Relevant weekly income is defined by the Sentencing Council (the body that advises Magistrates on calculating fines) as the Defendant's actual income where the Defendant is in receipt of income from employment or is self-employed and that income exceeds £120 per week after deduction of tax and National Insurance or the equivalent for a self-employed Defendant. Where the Defendant's only source of income is State Benefit or the income received from employment/self-employment is less than £120 per week after deduction of tax and National Insurance, the relevant weekly income will be £120. In reaching this calculation, the Court will review the MC100 Statement of Means provided by the Defendant at or in advance of the hearing.Statement of Means
Will I also have to pay Court costs or any other penalties in addition to a fine?
Yes. If convicted, you will also be ordered to pay prosecution costs, if appropriate witness expenses, as well as a Victim Surcharge which is currently set at 10% of the fine.
How much will Court costs be?
If the matter is resolved by way of a guilty plea and that is entered before the first hearing, costs would not normally exceed £85. Thereafter, costs will increase subject to the number of hearings, the reason for the hearings and the amount of work that the Crown Prosecution Service have had to undertake.
Are there ways to reduce the fine or help my case?
Yes. Much depends upon the information you detail in the Statement of Means and the mitigation you put forward. An early guilty plea should also result in a reduced fine.
What is an early guilty plea discount?
A theoretical discount of 33% will be offered where there has been an early guilty plea but, if the calculation of the fine based on a relevant weekly income exceeds the maximum guidelines, the discount may be offered against the total as opposed to the maximum fine that can be imposed. It therefore does not follow that where, for example, the maximum fine is capped at £1,000, an early guilty plea guarantees that the fine cannot exceed £666.
What mitigation will the Court be looking for? What should I say to the Court?
Although any submission should include an explanation for the offence and details of the potential punishment implications, there is no set formula as each individual's circumstances will be different. The Court will consider your case on the merits of your situation alone, so it is important that any submission specifically addresses how the sentence will affect you and those that rely upon you. It makes sense to seek specialist advice before preparing mitigation.
Can I pay a higher fine to avoid a disqualification?
In theory, this approach should not work. However, in some circumstances, Courts will be more lenient on the number of penalty points if it is apparent that the Defendant can pay an increased fine. That said, you cannot "buy" your licence and there is a risk that any individual who declares an ability to pay a high fine will be told by the Court that they can pay for a driver whilst serving a ban, so it is important that careful consideration is given to what information is disclosed to the Court.
Will I be given time to pay?
Please refer to our Paying a Fine page for further information:Paying a Speeding Fine
Can I deal with my case by post?
Many cases can be resolved without a personal attendance, with mitigation presented by post or online. The Court will normally offer the opportunity to put forward a written plea of mitigation which will then be considered in your absence on the day of the hearing.
However, for more serious offences, when the Court is considering either a totting up or instant disqualification, a personal appearance will be required. How the matter is concluded is at the discretion of the Court. On some occasions, although the paperwork indicates that a written plea will be considered, the Court can then reject same and set a new date for the Defendant to attend. Some Courts will issue a Notice of Intended / Proposed Disqualification, offering the option of a hearing date or accepting a ban.
What is a Notice of Proposed / Intended Disqualification?
If your circumstances are such that ban may be imposed, the Court can now deal with this without allocating hearing date. A Notice of Proposed Disqualification will be issued, specifying a date by which the Defendant must ask for a personal attendance. If no response is received or the Defendant does not request a hearing, a ban will be imposed automatically from the date specified.
Which Court will deal with my speeding case?
The case will normally be referred to the Court which is closest to where the incident took place. In England and Wales, cases are dealt with at the Magistrates' Court. In Scotland, cases are referred to either the Justice of the Peace Court or the Sheriff's Court, depending on the severity of the offence.
Can I represent myself on a guilty speeding case?
Yes. Whilst it is essential that you have prepared the appropriate mitigation, and have some understanding of what is relevant/irrelevant, you do not need to have a representative present, as long as you are fully prepared and are comfortable and capable of putting your submission to the Court.
Can I represent myself on a not guilty speeding case?
In theory there is no reason why you cannot represent yourself in as much as it is your right and entitlement to run your own defence if you wish. However, it makes sense to have guidance and representation. The Court will not assist you and you will be expected to understand the law, the process and be able to conduct the case correctly. This could include cross examining the Police or other expert witnesses as well as presenting your own version of events. Bear in mind that as many not guilty pleas depend on the accuracy of specialist equipment, you will need to have good knowledge of quite technical issues or may require an expert to give evidence.
How will legal advice/representation benefit me?
In addition to removing the burden of preparing the case and reducing the worry/anxiety factor, by instructing a motoring specialist, you will also know that the submission prepared is the best that will be available for your circumstances. If you choose representation, the person that attends Court will have good knowledge of that particular Court as well as the appropriate law etc.