Fines imposed by magistrates across England and Wales are set to increase dramatically, under proposed government reforms.

Under the plans, magistrates would be able to issue fines four times greater than they can at present, with maximum fines for level four offences, including motorway speeding, drink-driving and driving with substandard tyres or damaged brakes, rising to £10,000.

Likewise those found guilty of level three offences, such as ignoring red traffic lights or using a mobile phone when driving, could be given fines of up to £4,000, an increase from the current £1,000.

Some have questioned whether the proposed increases are proportionate to the seriousness of the offences, but road safety charity, Brake, has welcomed the proposals. Brake’s James McLoughlin said:

“Speed is one of the biggest killers on our roads and, through the support we provide for victims of road crashes, we bear witness to the devastating effects of speeding.

“Limits are there for a reason, and more needs to be done to deter those who chose to put other road users at risk by breaking them.”

David Robinson, a specialist dealing in serious road traffic accident claims at Thompsons Middlesbrough and Newcastle offices, commented: “Tougher punishments, which can also act as deterrents, is something we whole-heartedly support.

“What starts off as an innocent act, be it reading a text message or speeding because you’re running late, can have the most devastating consequences.

“Motorists must understand that they are responsible for their actions when they get behind the wheel. Thoughtless and dangerous driving can end up costing someone their life.”

New legislation would have to be debated in Parliament and, at present, no such discussion is scheduled.