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Driving Penalties - What Does It Take To Get Disqualified?

Ever Wanted To Know Just Exactly What You Can Get Into Trouble For On The Roads? Here, We Outline The Top Driving Penalties and Disqualifications.

Sep 15, 2014

The Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 lists the full range of offences with which drivers may be charged in England, Wales and Scotland. Under the law you can be prosecuted for a range of offences from trivial items such as seat-belt offences to the most serious, such as causing death by dangerous driving.

Parliament sets the maximum penalties for road traffic offences and the maximum penalty is based on the seriousness of the offence. The courts then decide what sentence to impose according to particular circumstances.

In our guide, we look at how the penalty points system works in the UK. We also outline the most common driving offences and look at the maximum penalties applicable to those offences. Keep reading to find out more.

How the penalty points system works in the UK

The UK’s penalty points system aims to deter drivers from breaking the laws of the road. You will accrue points for serious offences as well as speeding and using a mobile phone while driving but you can also get penalty points for non-motoring offences such as failing to repair your vehicle.

The court must order penalty points to be endorsed on your licence according to the fixed number or the range set by Parliament. The accumulation of penalty points is intended to be a warning that you face further points or disqualification if you commit further offences.

If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points within a three year period you must be disqualified from driving. This will be for a minimum period of 6 months although it can be longer if you have previously been disqualified.

For every offence which carries penalty points the court also has a discretionary power to order you to be disqualified. This can be for any period that the court thinks fit but will usually be between a week and a few months.

In the case of serious offences, such as dangerous driving and drink-driving, the court must order that you are disqualified from driving. The minimum period is 12 months but it can be longer if you are a repeat offender or if your alcohol level is high.

Next, we look at the common offences and their penalties.

Common penalties

Dangerous driving

Dangerous driving carries a maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment and obligatory disqualification. You can also face an unlimited fine.

If you are convicted of causing death by dangerous driving you can face up to fourteen years in prison. You will also be given a minimum two year disqualification from driving.

Careless driving

Careless and inconsiderate driving carries a maximum £5,000 fine and you can be disqualified at the discretion of the court. You can also expect to receive between three and nine penalty points.

If you are convicted of causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs you can face up to fourteen years’ imprisonment and disqualification for at least two years.

Over a twelve month period in 2011/12, 199 people in England and Wales were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving. A further 24 were charged with causing death by careless driving when under the influence of drink or drugs and another 177 of causing death by careless driving.

Failing to report an accident

If you fail to report an accident or you fail to stop after an accident you can face up to six months’ imprisonment and a £5,000 fine. You may also receive between five and ten penalty points although the court has the power to disqualify you if it sees fit.

Driving while disqualified or without insurance

If you are convicted of driving without insurance you can face a fine of up to £5,000 and you will normally receive between six and eight penalty points.

If you drive while disqualified, you can face up to six months in prison (12 months in Scotland) and a fine of up to £5,000.

Failure to have proper control of vehicle/using mobile phone

If you are found guilty of failing to have proper control of your vehicle or using a hand-held mobile phone when driving you can face a fine of up to £1,000 as well as three penalty points.

Speeding

If you are prosecuted for speeding you will normally be given between 3 and 6 penalty points and you can face a fine of up to £1,000 (£2,500 for motorway offences). The court does have the power to disqualify you from driving depending on the seriousness of the offence.

Rules for new drivers

If you are a new driver (within two years of passing your test) and you accumulate six or more penalty points your licence will be revoked automatically. To regain your licence you must reapply for a provisional licence and may drive only as a learner until you pass a further driving test.

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