Driving offences and penalty fines explained
By Martin Pratt
Driving offences go from trivial to severe, as do the punishments. Our guide details the potential penalties for crimes on the road.
Everything from driving without a seatbelt to drunk driving can result in penalty points on your license, a hefty fine or even jail time. Whether it’s a speeding ticket through the letterbox or a court summons for something more serious, understanding the penalties for driving offences promotes safer driving.
The Road Traffic Offenders Act along with penalty points was introduced in 1988 to deter drivers from committing offences. Here’s our guide to some of the more serious and common offences and the maximum penalties associated with them.
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Road Traffic Offenders act: maximum penalties
|Offence (code)||Prison term||Fine||Driving ban||Penalty points|
|Causing death by dangerous driving (DD80)||14 years||Unlimited||Obligatory – minimum of 2 years (a)||3-11 (b)|
|Dangerous driving (DD40)||2 years||Unlimited||Obligatory (a)||3-11 (b)|
|Causing death by careless driving when unfit through drink of drugs (DR40/50)||14 years||Unlimited||Obligatory – minimum of 2 years (a)||3-11 (b)|
|Causing death by careless driving||5 years||Unlimited||Obligatory – minimum of 1 year (c)||3-11 (b)|
|Driving without due care and attention (CD10)||n/a||£5,000||Discretionary||3-9|
|Driving when above the alcohol limit or unfit through drink or drugs (DR10/20/80)||6 months||£5,000||Obligatory (c)||3-11 (b)|
|Failing to stop after an accident or failing to report an accident (AC10-20)||6 months||£5,000||Discretionary||5-10|
|Driving while disqualified (BA10)||6 months||£5,000||Discretionary||6|
|Driving after revocation of license on medical grounds (LC50)||6 months||£5,000||Discretionary||3-6|
|Driving without insurance (IN10)||n/a||£5,000||Discretionary||6-8|
|Using a vehicle with defective breaks/tyres/steering (CU10/30/40)||n/a||£2,500 (e)||Discretionary (f)||3|
|Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving (CU80)||n/a||£1,000 (g)||Discretionary||3|
|Failure to have proper control of the vehicle or full view of the road ahead||n/a||£1,000 (g)||Discretionary||3|
|Driving otherwise than in accordance with a license (LC20)||n/a||£1,000||Discretionary||3-6|
|Speeding (SP)||n/a||£1,000 (h)||Discretionary||3-6 (i)|
|Traffic signal offences (TS)||n/a||£1,000||Discretionary||3|
|No MOT certificate||n/a||£1,000||n/a||n/a|
|Seat belt offences||n/a||£500||n/a||n/a|
|Failing to identify the driver of your vehicle (MS90)||n/a||£1,000||Discretionary||6|
Understanding penalty points
Penalty points remain on your license for three years from the date of conviction – though you can’t have them removed until their fourth anniversary.
The points are cumulative and if you receive 12 in a three-year period you will be disqualified.
New drivers will be banned if they receive six points within two years of passing their test.
Fixed penalty notices
Police officers may issue you with a fixed penalty notice for an endorsable offence, such as excessive speeding or dangerous driving. This can be on -the -spot if you have your driving licence and counterpart with you. If you have nine points or more on your licence, an on-the-spot endorsement is not possible. An endorsable offence can result in a fine and penalty points on your license. You will be required to hand over your license at the scene or within seven days of the notice being issued.
You can be given a provisional fixed penalty, together with a notice to produce your licence within seven days. You must then attend a police station with your licence and the penalty ticket, where it's turned into a full fixed penalty.
If the fine is paid within seven days your driving licence will be returned to you . If you disagree with the fine you can request a hearing and the case will be tried in court. If you’re found guilty a judge will decide how many points should go on your license and how much the fine will be.
If you don’t pay or request a court hearing within the time stated, the charge will increase by a half. You then have a further 21 days to pay or show that you requested a court hearing.
Speed awareness course
For speeding offences you may be offered the chance to attend a speed awareness course. These courses are usually offered to drivers who were only slightly over the legal limit. You cannot attend more than one course every three years and if you are caught again in that time points will be added to your license. The courses typically last four to five hours and are paid for by the offender.