Going on a Road Trip? Stay Safe by Understanding Driving Penalty Risks

It's nearly holiday season and the time to start planning your next road trip. Make sure you stay safe with our guide to driving offences and their penalties.

With summer and the holiday season nearly here, now is the time to start planning your next road trip, day out of long weekend away. But with thousands of other motorists in the UK doing the same, you must make sure you know how to drive safely and avoid penalties!

Under the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, there is a long list of driving offences you can be prosecuted for in England, Scotland and Wales, which can all result in fines, penalty points on your record and possibly a jail sentence. These can range from small things such as not wearing a seat-belt, to death caused by dangerous driving.

Depending on the level of seriousness and circumstance, the court will set a maximum penalty and a fine for the road traffic offence in question. This will show up as penalty points on your driving record and is written on the counterpart document of your driving license. Penalty points will stay on your record for 4 to 11 years, but if you accumulate over 12 points in 3 years, you will be disqualified from driving. This disqualification must last for at least six months, although it could be longer if you have been disqualified before.

To make sure you don’t have your driving record tarnished, read on to find out about the common driving offences and the maximum penalties against them.

A dangerous driving offence can carry a penalty of up to two years in prison and disqualification, as well as an unlimited fine.

In the most serious of cases – causing death by dangerous driving – you can be sentenced to 14 years maximum in prison, alongside a minimum of two years driving disqualification.

In the 12 months between 2012 and 2013, 226 people in England and Wales were convicted of causing death by dangerous driving; a worrying 36% increase on the previous year.

Between 2011 and 2012, 24 people were charged with causing death by careless driving whilst under the influence of drink or drugs and another 177 caused death by careless driving.

If you are found to be driving without insurance, expect a fine of up to £5,000 and six to eight penalty points. Driving while disqualified can get you up to six months in prison (12 months in Scotland) and a maximum £5,000 fine.

When you are in a rush to get somewhere or simply enjoy driving, it can be easy to drive over the speed limit without realising. However, this offence can land you with three to six penalty points and a fine of £1,000. This fine rises to £2,500 if you were caught speeding on a motorway. If the offence is serious enough, the court also has the power to disqualify you.

It is UK Parliament who decides on the fixed number or range of penalty points you can get, then the court orders the appropriate penalty to be placed on your licence. If you continue to commit further driving offences and don’t heed the warnings of penalties, you can face disqualification or a prison sentence.

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