Are some motoring fines so low they actually encourage law-breaking?

If you manage to get caught travelling at anything up to 50 mph in a 30 mph area by a speed camera, you will, most typically, receive a fixed penalty of £60.

However, if you decide to make your number plate unreadable, thus ensuring that you will never receive any fines from these cameras, you will (if you happen to be caught with an unreadable number plate by the police) receive a fixed penalty notice of… £60.

Is that a deterrent against obscuring your number plate, if you also have a propensity for speeding?

Another example. An MoT now costs £50.35. If you decide that’s too expensive, and drive around without one, you will – again, if you happen to be caught – receive a fixed penalty notice of… £60.

Ludicrously, the fine for both these offences was, as recently as 2009, only £30, leading the Home Office to note that

The current fixed penalty does not appear to be an adequate deterrent

You think?

But the ministers responsible evidently didn’t seem to stop and consider why the fine was inadequate, because they merely proposed raising the fine to the current £60 –

Without prejudice to possible other changes in future, such as making the offence endorsable, Ministers have therefore decided to raise the fixed penalty to £60.

That is, the same order of cost as a speed camera fine, or an MoT test. In other words, the fine level was raised from very ineffective to merely ineffective.

Do the words ‘cost-benefit analysis’ mean nothing to the Home Office?

This entry was posted in Dangerous driving, Road safety, The judiciary. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Are some motoring fines so low they actually encourage law-breaking?

  1. Kim says:

    It is not just the low level of the fines, it is the lack of adequate enforcement that also give the impression that a driving is a right and not a privilege.

  2. I suggest making fines proportional to income as in Finland. 60 pounds in fines would be a deterrent to me, not so much to a millionaire.

    • I found their formula. They take your income after taxes, subtract about 2000 euro per month for expenses that you’d reasonably have, divide that by 365 to get the money you have in an average day for spending as you wish, divide that in two to figure out how much is a fair amount to take away from you, and then multiply that by a certain number of days proportional to the offense. For example, drinking and driving can take away 80 day fines from you. Used in quite a few countries, oddly enough, the Netherlands is not among them. Though it is possible to get a fine for murdering the king.

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