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The vast majority of motorists who commit an offence will have to pay a fine as part of their penalty.


Whether it’s a fixed penalty of £100 (as with most speeding offences) or a heftier fine based on your income, the financial aspect and implications of a sentence can often be one that is overlooked.


The vast majority of motoring offences are governed by the Road Traffic Act 1988 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988. It is the former that enshrines the offence into law and the latter that determines the penalty.


There are 5 levels of fine which express the maximum amount that can be imposed and these are:


  • Level 1 £200.00
  • Level 2 £500.00
  • Level 3 £1000.00
  • Level 4 £2500.00
  • Level 5 Unlimited (no cap)


A summary of the most common offences and their respective fines are as follows:



Fixed Penalty Available?

Maximum Fine at court



Level 3 or 4 depending on road type

Driving without insurance


Level 5

Drink driving


Level 5

Drug Driving


Level 5

Failing to provide a Specimen


Level 4

Dangerous Driving


Level 5

Drunk in Charge


Level 4

Careless Driving


Level 5

Mobile telephone


Level 4


Some offences can carry fixed penalties which allow the case to be dealt without outside of court. These fines tend to be much lower than the statutory maximum to act as an incentive to be accepted as opposed to taking the matter to a court hearing.


As you can see, most offences we deal with carry heftier fines with level 3 being the minimum but these levels reflect the maximum that can be imposed and there is often a range of options involved with any case depending on the severity which are reflected by sentencing bands.


If we take speeding as an example the fine is determined by a combination of the speed limit you were travelling in and by how much you exceeded that speed.


If you were caught at 45mph in a 40mph zone then you would face a Band A fine. If you were caught in the same 40 mph zone travelling at 66mph then you will face a Band C fine.


So what do the Bands mean?


Bands of Fine


Bands offer the court’s a range in terms of financial penalty and it is all determined by your ability to pay. You will be required to complete a statement of means and provide the court with information about your income and expenditure. They will then look at your disposable income and refer to the sentencing guidelines to determine a financial penalty with the bands as follows:



Fine (% of weekly income)

Range (% of weekly income)



25 – 75 %



75 – 125 %



125 – 175%



200 – 300%



300 – 500%



500 – 700%


As a general rule, the court is supposed to pay a fine that can realistically be paid within a 28 day period. If a higher fine is imposed then the fines office will arrange a payment plan and details of how you should pay your fine will be given at court.


Drink driving for example falls into both Band B and Level 5 so even though the starting point is 100% of your weekly income (which presumably could be an amount paid within 28 days), the Level 5 aspect means that in theory the court can impose however high an amount they choose as Level 5 is unlimited with no upper cap. This will no doubt be a daunting prospect if you are a high earner or the circumstances of the offence are serious.


We are often asked when convictions become spent or when you have to stop declaring them. A fine is not considered spent until five years after it was imposed so even if it was a minimal amount it can have more far reaching consequences than you initially anticipate.


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