Driving fine power 'may be abused'

Magistrates have warned that police should not be given the power to issue on-the-spot punishments for careless driving over fears they may misuse it.

The Department for Transport had proposed that police could issue fines of £60 and three points to motorists who admitted the offence under a series of road-safety measures.

But Chris Hunt Cooke, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, warned that police could misuse their powers.

He said: "Once they have been given these powers, the police will misuse them, that is a certainty". He added that police would "downgrade careless driving in terms of offence seriousness" because it would be "convenient".

Currently, those suspected of careless driving are prosecuted through the courts, where they can face a fine of up to £5,000 and nine points on their licence.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "All drivers would always have the option to contest their case in court and we would work with the police and the courts to develop guidance to ensure that cases are handled correctly."

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