For any motoring offence committed after the 13th April 2015 the cost of appearing in Court for a motoring offence will increase exponentially. The State has introduced a new type of charge for any ‘criminal’ appearing before either the Crown Court or the Magistrates Court – known as the ‘Criminal Courts Charge‘ :
The charge will be applied to include drivers convicted of the most most straight forward motoring offences. Moreover the Criminal Courts Charge will be IN ADDITION to those charges already imposed by the Court. The charge will range from £150 for a straightforward guilty plea to £1,200 for a contested crown court trial.
For example, a motorist before the Magistrates Court court in respect of a straightforward speeding offence which attracts a guilty plea will face:
1. A fine commensurate with his/her weekly income (generally between 100% to 200% of weekly income)
2. Prosecution costs (generally ranging from £80 to £800 but see below)
3. A Victim Surcharge (a percentage of the fine)
4. Criminal Courts Charge (ranging from £150 to £1,200)
Where a driver is before the court for a more serious motoring offence, the Court will also consider whether compensation should be paid to the victim. A compensation order is distinct to the Victim Surcharge.
There have also been an increase in the prosecution seeking costs that more accurately reflect the actual costs incurred. the recent case of the motorist who disputed being caught speeding at 101 mph illustrates this with a prosecution costs order in the region of £11,000. in that case, the prosecution recreated the circumstances in which the Audi R8 had been recorded speeding by hiring an expert, an airfield and an Audi R8. The motorist lost the case and the Court held that the entire costs of the prosecution should be met by him.
What will happen if you do not pay any one of the costs orders made by the Court? After the Court enforcement department has tried all other means of payment and recovery, a prison sentence in default of payment will be imposed. The cynic will say that a motorists are being heavily penalised for what often may start life as straightforward speeding offence but conclude in the driver facing a bill for thousands of pounds and the risk of imprisonment.
Challenging the prosecution case, whilst worthwhile in the appropriate case, has become more expensive. The new costs regime provides an even more compelling reason for the motorist to take advice from a specialist motoring Solicitor as early as possible in Court proceedings. Failure to do so could prove very costly.