Enforcement Guide and the Penalty Points System
- Drinking and Driving
- Drug Driving
- Dangerous driving
- Careless or inconsiderate driving
- Mobile phone offence
- The fixed penalty ticket
- Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act
- Vehicle seizure
- Points on your licence
Every day throughout the country police deal with numerous road traffic offences. Many of these are minor and are dealt with at the roadside, but a number are serious and result in injury and death on the road. Make sure you stay safe on the road, and on the right side of the law, by reading our guide to motoring offences and enforcement.
Approximately 200 died and over 8,000 people were injured on Britain’s roads in 2016 as a result of drinking driving. Even a small alcoholic drink can affect the way you react when driving so if you’re driving don’t drink.
Different parts of the UK have different drink drive limits as follows:
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the limit is currently 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
In Scotland the limit is lower and stands at 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
The penalty for being found guilty of driving with excess alcohol is an obligatory disqualification of at least 12 months plus a fine of up to £5,000 and your driving licence will be endorsed. There is also the possibility of six month’s imprisonment.
In addition to any penalties that court may impose you could face the loss of your livelihood if driving is required, a huge increase in insurance costs when the ban is lifted, increased travel costs for the period of disqualification, the inconvenience of a lack of personal mobility, the effect on family life and the social ridicule having committed, what most people consider, to be a selfish act. You may also find it difficult if you want to travel to places such as Australia, Canada and the USA.
The Road Traffic Act 1988 makes it an offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in control of a mechanically propelled vehicle on a road or other public place when unfit through drink or drugs
In addition to this if you live in England and Wales there is the separate offence of driving over the prescribed limit in relation to drugs. In essence this is similar to drink driving in that there is a specified limit for the amount of 17 drugs, both illegal and prescription, in a person’s blood.
These are two separate offences and you could potentially commit one or the other or both.
The penalty for drug driving is a minimum 12 month disqualification, an unlimited fine/six months in prison or both; and your driving licence will be endorsed for 11 years.
Just like drink driving a conviction for drug driving will have massive consequences for insurance post ban, job prospects and also overseas travel.
Uninsured drivers pose a serious risk to themselves and other road users. To drive a motor vehicle on a road you must have a valid insurance policy covering the driver’s use of the vehicle. If you are found to be driving without insurance by the police they have the power to seize the vehicle there and then. The offence can be dealt with by way of a £300 fixed penalty that carries 6 penalty points or, if found guilty at court the offence carries a potential unlimited fine and possible disqualification.
The faster you go the longer it takes you to stop – FACT. In 2016 nearly 1 in 5 fatal collisions involved excess or inappropriate speed so there’s no wonder that it something that is actively targeted by the police.
If you are caught exceeding the speed limit, depending on the recorded speed, you may be invited to attend a Speed Awareness Course or you may receive a £100 fixed penalty notice and three penalty points on your driving licence.
Depending on the circumstances and the speed you were travelling at you may find that neither the speed awareness course nor the fixed penalty are deemed appropriate. In that case you will be sent to court where you could be fined up to 175% of your weekly income, have up to 6 penalty points added to your licence or you could even be disqualified from driving for 56 days.
If your driving is considered to be grossly irresponsible you could be convicted of dangerous driving. This is one of the most serious motoring offences and carries with it a possible prison sentence of up to two years, an unlimited fine and an obligatory disqualification. The official definition of dangerous driving is when a person’s driving ‘falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous’.
The offence of causing death by dangerous driving carries with it a 14 year prison sentence, an unlimited fine and disqualification.
Careless driving, also sometimes called driving without due care and attention, happens when a person’s driving falls below the standard that would be expected of a competent and careful driver. This can range from pulling out from a junction without looking properly to passing too close to a cyclist causing them to fall off.
You can be found guilty of this offence if drive without reasonable consideration for other road users. Depending on the circumstances you could receive a fixed penalty of £100 with 3 penalty points on your licence or, if you were to go to court, a potential disqualification and unlimited fine.
Mobile phone offence
It has been illegal to use a handheld mobile phone whilst driving since 2003. This means using your phone for anything, not just for talking, but for texting, updating social media and following a map. If you are caught using your phone behind the wheel you will be liable to a £200 fixed penalty notice and 6 points on your driving licence. If you go to court you could potentially receive up to a £1,000 fine on conviction in court (£2,500 for drivers of goods vehicles, buses or coaches) and 6 points.
The fixed penalty ticket
If you commit a minor traffic offence, for example not wearing a seatbelt or driving with a broken headlight, the police can issue you with a one-off fine called a fixed penalty notice.
Non-endorsable offences – those which don’t result in points on your licence – usually incur a fine of £100.
Fines for endorsable offences, such as speeding or using a mobile phone while driving – are £100 with three penalty points.
If you get 12 points on your licence within a three-year period as a result of endorsable offences, your licence will usually be taken off you for at least six months. Offences that warrant mandatory disqualification from driving include all drink driving offences. In these cases, the minimum period is 12 months, but for repeat offenders or where the alcohol level is high, it may be longer. For example, a second drink-drive offence in the space of ten years will result in a minimum of three years’ disqualification.
In some serious cases, the court must (as well as imposing a fixed period of disqualification) order the offender to be disqualified until he or she passes a driving test. The test may be an ordinary length test or an extended test according to the nature of the offence.
Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act
This Government initiative was introduced in June 1997 in an attempt to reduce the number of casualties, and those incurring endorsable traffic offences, among newly qualified drivers. If you collect six or more penalty points within two years of passing your driving test, your licence will be revoked. The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will automatically revoke your licence when notified by a court or fixed penalty office. There is no right of appeal against revocation, but you can appeal against the conviction itself.
Once your licence has been revoked your driving status reverts to that of learner. As a result you must take and pass another driving test in order to get your full licence back.
Under Section 59 of the Police Reform Act 2002 the police have the power to seize your car if it is being used in anti-social manner, that is to say, if you are driving in such a way as to cause alarm, harassment or annoyance. Inconsiderate driving and unauthorised off-road driving are also included in this category. An example of this would be conducting handbrake turns in a car park. The police must warn the driver of the vehicle that if they continue to drive in that manner then it can be seized at any point during the 12 months following the warning.
Q: I have been sent a speeding ticket. I wasn’t the driver. What do I do?
A: If you were not driving at the time of the offence but are the registered keeper of the car, it is your responsibility to provide the full name and address of the person who was driving. Failure to provide this information is an offence and will result in a court summons.
Q: I was stopped for speeding in a 30mph limit but I swear I didn’t see any signs telling me it was 30. Do I have any defence?
A: In a word, no. The Highway Code (Rule 124) clearly states: ‘The presence of street lights generally means that there is a 30mph speed limit unless otherwise specified,’ so it is assumed that all drivers know that where there are street lights, the speed limit is 30mph. It is illegal to display repeater signs in a 30mph zone, unless there are no street lights, but the speed is displayed on posts, normally on both sides of the road, as you enter the 30mph area. The speed remains in force until a different limit is posted on both sides of the road.
Q: Is it worth reporting a motorcyclist who overtook me across solid double white lines and made an oncoming car swerve? I got his number plate.
A: You are perfectly within your rights to report the motorcyclist, but the likelihood of the police being able to do anything about it is slim. Unless you have evidence such as photographs or video footage, or can get the driver of the oncoming car to back you up, it’s just your word against his.
The information on this Site is provided on the understanding that GEM Motoring Assist is not rendering legal or other advice. You should consult your own professional advisers as to legal or other advice relevant to any action you wish to take in connection with this website.