What’s in this handbook?
The purpose of this handbook is to give you an overview of a wide range of motoring offences – from the minor to the major – the types of penalties motorists face and what courses of action, if any, are available to you, should you find yourself at the wrong end of a fixed penalty notice (FPN), a penalty charge notice (PCN) or a notice of intended prosecution (NIP).
Motoring offences are extremely common, with over 2 million speeding fines handed out in 2017 alone.
Most motoring offences are punishable by fines, penalty points or a combination of both, while more serious offences can land you in court and maybe even a criminal record or even a custodial sentence.
Minor offences are commonly punished by the issuing of a fixed penalty notice (FPN). There are a few different categories of FPN made up of different combinations of cash fines and penalty points on the offender's driving license.
If you accrue 12 points on your license (6 points if you passed your test in the last 2 years), you may be banned from driving. Meanwhile, some offences remain on your driving record for a number of years as what are known as endorsements.
For more information on how, when and why these may be issued to you, the motorist, see below. You can also follow the links for more information on specific offences.
Speeding (excessive speeding falls under the definition of dangerous driving, see below)
Max. £1000 fine (£2,500 on the motorway), 6 penalty points and/or a driving ban Fixed: £100 fine, 3 points or a speed awareness course (0 points)
Max. Disqualification / Fixed: £100 fine and 3 penalty points If convicted of causing death by careless driving, the maximum sentence is 5 years imprisonment, a £5,000 fine, 3-11 penalty points and a driving ban.
Max. £1,000 fine (£2,500 if the offender is driving passenger carrying vehicle (e.g. a bus or a goods vehicle, e.g. lorry or vehicle towing a trailer). Fixed: £200 fine and 6 penalty points.
Serious offences that result in an accident, injury or death will be treated as dangerous driving and is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, an unlimited fine and a driving ban.
Fixed: £100 fine, no penalty points Max: £250 for a child without a seatbelt.
Max. £500 fine if taken to court / Min. £100 fine, no penalty points
NB. You may have to declare any minor offences to your insurance company and you should check your policy documents to be sure. If you're convicted of a motoring offence (or any criminal offence), you'll have to declare this when renewing your policy as this may affect your premiums, or your insurers may decide they can no longer cover you.
The most serious driving offences are those that pose a high risk of injury or death to the public at large. All major offences will be bought before either a magistrates' court or, in more serious cases, Crown Court.
If you've been charged with any of the following major offences, you should consider seeking legal advice – especially if you intend to enter a not-guilty plea.
Depending on the nature of the offence and the previous record of the driver, punishments may include fines, driving bans and/or prison sentences – potentially lengthy sentences for the most egregious cases involving death or serious injury.
Being convicted of a major offence will also have a significant impact on your ability to find motoring insurance cover, can impact your employment prospects and even prevent you from travelling to some other countries.
Max. 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a driving ban of at least 1 year and a criminal record. If convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drink, that increases to 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least 2 years.
Max. 6 months imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a driving ban of at least 1 year and a criminal record. If convicted of causing death by careless driving while under the influence of drugs, that increases to 14 years imprisonment, an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least 2 years.
Max. 2 years imprisonment and a driving ban of at least 12 months. If convicted of causing death by dangerous driving, the penalty is up to 14 years imprisonment and a driving ban of at least 2 years.
Document offences are motoring offences that occur when motorists fail to provide their key documents to police when asked to do so.
On the road, the police have the power to stop you at any time. It's against the law if you don't stop when asked to by the police. You should pull over to the side of the road (assuming it's safe to do so).
Once stopped, the police may ask to see your driver’s licence, insurance documents or MOT certificate. It's not a legal requirement to carry any of these documents in your car, so if you can't produce them, the police will give you 7 days to present them to your nearest police station.
However, if you're unable to produce them because you don't have these necessary documents in place, the police may decide to issue a fixed penalty notice (FPN) or prosecute you for the following offences:
Max. Court appearance and up to £1,000 fine / Min. Fixed £100 fine, no penalty points. However, the punishment may be more severe if you're stopped by the police and they find your vehicle to be unroadworthy.
Fixed: £300 fine, no penalty points Max: Court appearance, an unlimited fine and/or a driving ban. If convicted of causing death by driving while uninsured, the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least 1 year.
Min: £80 fine, no penalty points. Max. Court appearance and up to £1,000 fine.
Max: £1,000 fine, 6 points on your licence and/or a driving ban. Although these penalties may be compounded if you are charged with another offence, e.g. driving without insurance. If convicted of causing death by driving while unlicensed/disqualified, the penalty is up to 2 years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and a driving ban of at least 1 year.
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