News story

Making seatbelt and number plate penalties consistent for all drivers

Changes to fixed penalties and penalty deposits for seatbelt and number plate offences.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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Changes to fixed penalties and penalty deposits for seatbelt and number plate offences were announced today (15 November 2010) by Road Safety Minister, Mike Penning.

Draft amendments to legislation have been laid before Parliament which will, subject to parliamentary approval, increase the on-the-spot penalty deposits for seatbelt and number plate offences that can be taken from drivers from abroad. This brings them into line with the £60 fixed penalties for those offences.

Amendments have also been made to increase the fixed penalty for driving or keeping a vehicle with an obscured registration mark, or without a registration plate, from £30 to £60. This change will ensure consistency of those penalties with the level for failing to fix the correct type of registration plate to a vehicle.

Mike Penning said:

If laws are to be effective then it is vital that they are enforced fairly and proportionately, no matter who you are or where you are from.

That is why we want to bring the deposit taken from drivers from abroad for seatbelt offences into line with the fixed penalties we know UK drivers pay.

Vehicles without a registration plate or with the plate obscured help law-breakers to avoid detection so it is important that proportionate penalties are in place to deter offenders. Updating the legislation today will make sure the penalties for all registration plate offences are consistent.

The fixed penalty for insufficient motorcycle tread depth will be amended to £60 from £120 to bring it into line with the penalty for other non-commercial vehicles. Again, the amendments laid before Parliament alter the deposit level in respect of this offence.

The new penalty levels are due to come into force on 1 February 2011.

Further information

Fixed penalty notices issued for certain road traffic offences give the option to pay the penalty in place of a prosecution. A financial penalty deposit can be taken on-the-spot from drivers who have committed certain road traffic offences but who cannot provide a satisfactory UK address.

All fixed penalty levels are kept under regular review in order to help ensure that they are broadly consistent with penalty levels for similar offences; are set at an appropriate level to help deter offending; and, are in proportion to court fine levels.

The proposed legislative changes will increase the penalty level from £30 to £60 for:

  • driving or keeping a vehicle without the required registration mark
  • driving or keeping a vehicle with an obscured registration mark

The reason for doing so is to increase the levels of compliance with the regulatory requirements about ‘number-plates’ - since failing to comply with the requirements about registration marks can have significant implications for criminal investigations and also crime detection. The proposed legislative changes will also make it possible for these offences to be enforced more effectively against non-UK-resident drivers - and also the offence of failing to fit a prescribed registration mark.

The changes will increase the financial penalty deposit level for seat belt offences from £30 to £60 so that the amount of financial penalty deposit that can be required from a non-UK resident driver for these offences is the same as the existing fixed penalty level.

The changes will also reduce from £120 to £60 the penalty level for insufficient tyre tread depth on a motorcycle tyre. This amendment corrects an earlier inadvertent change and brings the fixed penalty into line with the fixed penalty level for other non-commercial vehicle tyres. The changes will similarly reduce the amount of financial penalty deposit that can be required from a non-UK resident driver for this offence.

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Published 15 November 2010