The Home Office is currently testing new cameras to catch motorists who continue driving in a lane once a red warning X is displayed on the overhead gantry.
Highways England said it expects the new enforcement regime to begin at the end of next March.
The road-side cameras would automatically detect the lane violations and police officers would then determine the severity of the offence before deciding whether to send out a fine in the post.
Offences could be treated like passing through a red light, which carries a fixed penalty of £100 and three penalty points.
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: “The best laws are those that no-one breaks, not just because the penalties are so severe, but also because they are well understood and accepted.
“We need to see a redoubling of communications by Highways England to leave no doubt in motorists’ minds as to what a red X sign means.
“It’s important that drivers understand that where the carriageway has been blocked by a collision or a breakdown, the price for ignoring the red X could be a lot higher than a fixed penalty notice.”
Highways England has issued around 80,000 warning letters to motorists who broke smart motorway rules, with a third relating to driving in closed lanes.
Smart motorways involve using the hard shoulder for traffic unless a red X indicates it is closed, normally because of an accident or broken down vehicle.
Sections of the M1, M4, M5, M6 and M42 have already been modified, with 480 lane miles being added to England’s motorway network.
A Highways England spokesman said: “Safety is at the heart of everything we do and our roads are among the safest in the world.
“We close lanes for a reason and drivers ignoring the red Xs puts them and others at risk.
“Since we started issuing warning letters we have seen a decrease in the number of drivers ignoring lane closures.”