By on December 26, 2008

The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is preparing to give police the authority to issue instant fines to motorists accused of making simple, careless mistakes while driving. Under the proposal, police would ticket the alleged crime at £60 (US $90), bypassing expensive court hearings for a majority of cases. The new on-the-spot penalty is designed to increase the number of annual convictions to 30,480, resulting in more than £1.8 million in additional revenue (US $2.7 million).

The extra fines are specifically targeted at drivers with a good record who may have been caught making a simple mistake. Under UK law, “careless driving” represents a non-specific, catch-all category of traffic crime as distinct from specific offenses such as driving while talking on a cell phone, neglecting to wear a seatbelt or speeding. The fixed penalty would apply to anyone “driving in a way that falls below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver.” Although this fine could be challenged in court, doing so risks the imposition of court costs of up to £2000 if the magistrate rejects the not guilty defense.

“Anecdotal evidence suggests that the prosecution rate for careless driving is low, given the heavy burden of paperwork involved, which means that many potential offenders are not prosecuted or even charged, and so there is a potentially significant number of offenses that are going unpunished,” the DfT consultation paper explains. “Given the problem of careless driving, which is likely to be higher than available data suggest and the inadequacies of the current system for securing a conviction, there is a strong case for government intervention to improve driver compliance with expected driving standards.”

“We have assumed that, in the majority of cases that are dealt with by the issue of a fixed penalty notice, the driver is unlikely to have any other endorsements and that the issue of three penalty points will not result in the driver incurring any significant financial costs (e.g. as a result of disqualification),” the consultation states. “Where a driver accepts the fixed penalty, there would be a reduction in costs for the police, CPS and Court Service. A survey of drivers convicted of careless driving reveals that the majority pleaded guilty to the offense.”

The average cost of having a motorist go to court to plead guilty averages £680 (US $1005). Officials are eager to save this money by eliminating court hearings to the extent possible. The public comment period for the proposal expires on February 27, 2009.

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15 Comments on “UK to Raise Revenues with $90 On-The-Spot Tickets...”

  • avatar

    They can just deduct it automatically from your checking account, save all the paperwork and that bit of trouble called presumed innocence.
    Maybe the police should just issue tickets behind people, charge them 60 quid, and the driver can find out about it a few days later when he notices the money missing from his bank.

    Wake up America, this is what we have in store for us eventually.

  • avatar
    new caledonia

    As Jonah Goldberg of National Review said of his late father:

    “…One of my earliest memories is of us walking to Murray’s [Bagel Shop]—I couldn’t have been much older than 7 or 8 — when he stopped, and suddenly tightened his grip on my little hand and said to me, “Jonah, if you are ever pulled over by a policeman in a South American country, you must tell him ‘I’m sorry officer. I didn’t realize my mistake. Is there any way I can pay the fine right here rather than go down to the station house?’”

    The UK is now vying for banana republic status.

  • avatar

    There’s short story by Robert Sheckley called Ticket To Tranai about the utopian planet where there are no taxes. The protagonist travels there and, in short order, is robbed at gunpoint. When he tells a local about this, he is asked “Was the robber wearing a white hat or a black hat?” “Why? Does it matter?” he replied. “If he was wearing a white hat, he was from the government.”

    I wonder if you would get an extra ticket if Adam Ant’s “Dandy Highwayman” was playing on your car stereo…

  • avatar

    Are politicians/govt in the UK that stupid? This will greatly reduce the people on the road there for a mass reduction of uses of the toll way, MOT and the pollution tax. So in the end they will be doing worse off. I was thinking about moving to the UK but stupid things like this def changed my mind.

  • avatar

    Not stupid, just really desperate for cash from any source.

  • avatar

    The country that brought the world the jury trial is turning into a banana republic.

  • avatar

    These tickets would be handed out to people who were not breaking any particular motor regulation, just people that the cop thought deserved a ticket. The sort of infraction that should be very challengable in court. Is this a realistic scenario for throwing away the principle of presumed innocence?

  • avatar


    No wonder their economy is tanking. Consumer confidence is not all that great when all the disposable income goes towards financing a highly complex and costly extortion machine. They’d be better off just raising taxes or cutting spending, but that’d be “politically risky”. Sounds like GM-style government.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Is it just me, or is the UK gov’t trying to get rid of the car altogether? These Naderistic policies, i.e. speed cameras, average speed cameras, congestion charges, MOT, carbon taxes, etc. Does everyone in that gov’t think making people avoid driving by draining their bank accounts will do the country any good?

  • avatar

    Does everyone in that gov’t think making people avoid driving by draining their bank accounts will do the country any good?

    No, just most.

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    Well, I must come and visit you guys, who drive on roads that are not infested with idiotic drivers who are incapable of evaluating modern traffic and reacting accordingly. I wonder where that is exactly?

    Personally I’d rather the cops shot people for careless driving.

  • avatar
    Rev Junkie

    Well, Nocock, so do you come from a place where no one makes any mistakes ever and the heinous crime of going 36 in a 35 zone or making a right turn at a red light when a sign tells you not to, even though there is no traffic on the other road, or the crime against humanity known as staying in the left lane of a highway when you aren’t passing deserves death? Just go back to reading Unsafe at any Speed and touching yourself, you have no place in a forum for driving enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    So in other words, a cop can pull me over and ticket me $90 for going 36 in a 35 zone, or not hitting the turn signal as early as he thought I should.

    This, ladies and gentlemen, is highway robbery, sanctioned by the state in order to line the bureaucratic pockets and feed the machinery responsible for such malarkey.

    My faith in the UK grows dimmer and dimmer each passing moment, as they literally break their necks to pass ludicrous laws like these.

  • avatar

    So in other words, a cop can pull me over and ticket me $90 for going 36 in a 35 zone, or not hitting the turn signal as early as he thought I should.

    No to the first and yes to the second. According to the article, “careless driving” does not include breaking of actual specific regulations, like posted speed limits, illegal turns, etc. Basically, it amounts to the cop saying, I don’t like the way your driving. I can’t cite a specific regulation that you’re breaking, but I want to issue you a ticket anyway. to make this a presumed guilty until proven innocent situation is the height of foolishness, if you believe in a judicial system where presumed innocent actually means something.

  • avatar

    This will have zero effect as there are so few traffic cops around these days. They have all been replaced by the “effectiveness” of cameras. Some UK police forces no longer have a traffic section any more.

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