Drivers who stupidly use their mobile phones while barrelling along Britain's roads could be hit with much bigger fines if measures unveiled today by the government come into force.
The Ministry of Justice wants tougher financial penalties to clamp down on criminals who flout the rules: for example, motorists who use their mobile phones while driving are set to face fines of up to £4,000. At present, the maximum penalty for such an offence is capped at £1,000.
Justice minister Jeremy Wright argued that allowing beaks to set higher fines will deter miscreants from repeat offending.
"Magistrates are the cornerstone of our justice system and these changes will provide them with greater powers to deal with the day-to-day offences that impact their local communities," he said.
Motorway speeding penalties are set to be hiked by up to £10,000 from today's maximum fine of £2,500. Careless driving and driving without insurance could face unlimited fines, just like in crown courts.
The move to raise the limits on magistrates' court fines – or tear the caps off offences that today carry a maximum fine of £5,000 – is part of a draft statutory instrument [PDF] laid today before Parliament: via the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, it will modify the penalties defined in the Criminal Justice Act 1982 – as soon as it's signed off by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. ®