CALCULATION OF FINES
When calculating a fine magistrates must take into account the seriousness of the offence and the financial circumstances of the offender. Normally it should be an amount that is capable of being paid within 12 months. The fine should be a hardship to the offender but should not force the offender below a reasonable 'substinence' level.
Fines are calculated using fine bands. For the different bands appropriate for various drink driving related offences please see the Magistrates Sentencing Guidelines for that particular offence.
FINE BAND A
Starting Point: 50% of relevant weekly income
Range: 25% - 75% of relevant weekly income
FINE BAND B
Starting Point: 100% of relevant weekly income
Range: 75% - 125% of relevant weekly income
FINE BAND C
Starting Point: 150% of relevant weekly income
Range: 125% - 175% of relevant weekly income
FINE BAND D
Starting Point: 250% of relevant weekly income
Range: 200% - 300% of relevant weekly income
FINE BAND E
Starting Point: 400% of relevant weekly income
Range: 300% - 500% of relevant weekly income
FINE BAND F
Starting Point: 600% of relevant weekly income
Range: 500% - 700% of relevant weekly income
Starting points are where Magistrates should begin, but fines can fall anywhere within the range depending on the offenders circumstances.
Fines can also be expressed in terms of levels. Fines must not exceed the maximum statutory limit. Where fines are expressed in terms of 'level' the maximum statutory limits are:
Level 1: Maximum limit = £200.00
Level 2: Maximum limit = £500.00
Level 3: Maximum limit = £1,000.00
Level 4: Maximum limit = £2,500.00
Level 5: Maximum limit = [strike]£5,000.00[/strike] (For offences committed on or after 13th March 2015, the court may impose a fine of any amount)
Relevant Weekly Income
This is the income used by Magistrates when deciding on how much fine to impose.
For those employed or self employed:
Relevant weekly income is any amount of money the offender earns per week after tax and national insurance and that income is more than £100.00 per week.
For those on state benefit or low incomes:
If an offender earns or receives less than £100.00 per week then their relevant weekly income is deemed to be £100.00. Tax benefits, housing benefits, child benefits and similar are not taken into account.
A fine is payable in full on the day it is imposed. However periodic payments may be allowed as long as any fines are paid within 12 months. The maximum weekly payment for those on state benefits should rarely exceed £5.00.
An offender is asked to fill out a financial means form (view a sample financial means form here). Where an offender fails to fill out such a form or gives insufficient reliable information, the court is entitled to make any determination it sees fit regarding the financial means of the offender. When no information is given where a determination can be made, magistrates proceed on the basis of an assumed relevant weekly income of £350.00.
Where an offender has savings, these savings will not normally be relevant to the assesment of the amount of fine to pay, although they may influence the decision on the amount of time the offender has to pay off any fine imposed.
Where an offender has little or no income but does have substantial savings, the court may consider it appropriate to adjust the amount of fine to reflect this.
The aim is for the fine to have an equal impact on offenders with different financial circumstances; it should be a hardship but should not force the offender below a reasonable subsistence level.
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