It was reported last week that Surrey Police said they pulled over a motorist driving on the M25 at 130 mph. The motorist allegedly told the officers: “I thought the faster I went the less chance I would catch coronavirus”. However, the explanation failed to satisfy the officers and the motorist has been referred to court.
Police forces across the whole of the UK have said they are witnessing an increase in speeding offences during the pandemic as motorists are breaking the limit because of lower traffic on the roads. We at Jackson Boyd represent motorist in a variety of road traffic offences and provide below a brief summary of the courts sentencing powers in Scotland in respect of speeding offences.*
A conviction for driving in excess of the speed limit in Scotland can lead to:
- the imposition of three to six penalty points; or
- the court may impose a discretionary disqualification for a particularly high speed.
A fine will also be imposed. The maximum fine for speeding in Scotland is £2,500, although most speeding offences are dealt with by fines in the low hundreds of pounds. Commonly a speeding offence will be dealt with by way of a fixed penalty of £100 fine and three penalty points. A fixed penalty must be accepted within 28 days of issue and can be paid at any court in Scotland. More excessive speeding offences will be prosecuted at court.
If a motorist collects 12 or more penalty points within 3 years they face instant disqualification under the “totting-up” provisions for a minimum period of 6 months.
If the alleged speed is so excessive it may fall within the realms of the offence of dangerous driving and the speeding prosecution will take place in one of the various Justice of the Peace Courts within Scotland. Dangerous driving is an offence under Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.
The court’s sentencing powers for a conviction dangerous driving are much greater. A conviction for dangerous driving carries a mandatory disqualification for a minimum 12 months or until the extended re-test is passed. It can also lead to a fine of up to £10,000 and/or imprisonment.
Opting to defend a speeding charge or tender a plea of guilty will likely be guided by prior points and the level of speed recorded, amongst other things. Sentencing policy in Scotland now dictates that the number of points or length of disqualification can be discounted in cases where an early plea of guilty has been entered.
*Please note the sentencing powers are subject to change by law and can vary depending on the level at which the offence is prosecuted and any special reasons or defences. This is simply a brief summary of the sentencing powers.