A LEADING south Essex solicitor has warned of ‘swingeing’ increases to speeding fines coming into effect next week.

Jeremy Sirrell, a Partner at Palmers Solicitors, warned that maximum penalties for serious offences will rise from 100 per cent to 150 per cent of a driver’s weekly wage, or 175 per cent where the offence takes place on a motorway, up to a maximum of £2,500.

The changes relate to what are classed as the most serious speeding offences, which includes exceeding 41mph in a 20mph zone, 51mph in a 30mph zone, 66mph in a 40mph zone or 101mph in a 70mph limit.

Mr Sirrell claims disqualification, rather than fining drivers, will act as the real deterrent.

He said: “These are swingeing increases, but in my experience it is disqualification that is the real deterrent and this option was already available to the courts, so it is difficult to see the justification.

“Clearly it is important to comply with the law and to stick to the prescribed speed limits.

"However, the circumstances of serious speeding offences can vary enormously and magistrates do still have some discretion to take account of this in their sentencing decisions.

“Anyone who is facing a summons for a serious speeding offence is welcome to contact me for advice on where they stand in relation to the new guidelines.”

The changes will come into effect on Monday, regardless of the date of the offence, and come shortly after large increases in the penalties for using a mobile phone whilst driving came into effect.