Frequently asked questions on motoring offences

Frequently asked questions on motoring offences

Dangerous Driving

  • What is dangerous driving?
    Driving is considered dangerous when the standard is far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driver, and that it would be obvious to such a driver how dangerous it was.
  • What is the maximum punishment for dangerous driving?
    The maximum punishment for dangerous driving is two years’ imprisonment. For causing death by dangerous driving, this increases to a maximum custodial sentence of 14 years and a minimum two year driving ban.
  • I’ve been banned for dangerous driving. Do I need to reapply for a licence?
    Yes, your licence has been revoked by this punishment. You will need to apply for a provisional licence and pass an extended driving test to have your full licence restored.

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Driving Ban/Disqualification

  • Can disqualification be avoided?
    Yes, although you would need to prove that a ban would cause you exceptional hardship.
  • Can I avoid a ban if I need my licence for work?
    Losing your employment or livelihood as a result of losing your licence may amount to exceptional hardship, although this is far from guaranteed. To succeed, a clear and forceful argument, backed up by evidence, will need to be presented to the court.
  • This is my first offence. Will that be taken into account?
    Although the court will consider your previous record, a clean licence will not be enough to avoid a ban if guidelines suggest you should be disqualified for the offence.
  • Can the length of the disqualification be reduced?
    Yes, the court can use its discretion based on the circumstances of each case. Specialist representation can help reduce the length of the ban.
  • Can I have my licence returned early?
    Yes, if you have been disqualified from driving for over two years, you can apply for your licence to be restored, revoking the outstanding disqualification period. For disqualifications of between two and four years, you can apply after two years, while applications relating to disqualifications of four to ten years can be made once half the sentence has been served. For disqualifications in excess of ten years, you can apply after five years.

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Drink Driving

  • What are the legal limits?
    The current limits are:

    • 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath
    • 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood
    • 107 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of urine
  • How is drink driving tested?
    If the police have reasonable cause to believe you have been drink driving, you will be given a roadside breath test. If you fail, evidence of the alcohol level will need to be gathered at the police station, via a breath, blood or urine specimen.
  • Why do I need to give further specimens?
    The roadside test is just an indicator of whether you are over the limit. Actual evidence that can be used in court will need to be gathered on the machines at the police station.
  • What happens after the reading has been taken?
    If the reading is 39 microgrammes or below, you will be released with a warning.

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Driving Licence

  • What is the punishment for driving unaccompanied on a provisional licence?
    You will be prosecuted for driving otherwise in accordance with your licence, which would result in three to six penalty points and a fine. This would void any insurance, so you are likely to also be charged with driving uninsured, which carries six to eight points and a fine.
  • Do I have to carry my licence at all times?
    No, but the police can request to see your licence at any time. If you do not have it on you, you will need to show it at a police station within seven days.

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Exceptional Hardship

  • Can I avoid a disqualification if I need my licence for work?
    Losing your employment or livelihood as a result of losing your licence may amount to exceptional hardship, although this is far from guaranteed. To succeed, a clear and forceful argument, backed up by evidence, will need to be presented to the court.
  • This is my first offence. Will that be taken into account?
    Although the court will consider your previous record, a clean licence will not be enough to avoid a disqualification if guidelines suggest you should be banned for the offence.
  • Can I plead by letter?
    No, you will need to present your case to the court in person and be questioned on your defence.

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Failing to Identify Driver

  • What information needs to be provided?
    The name and address of the driver need to be supplied, to the best of the person’s knowledge.
  • What happens if I don’t know who was driving?
    You need to take steps to identify who was driving at the time. If you have made enquiries, but not been able to reach a conclusion, you may well be prosecuted. However, if the court accepts you have tried to identify the driver, this may be a satisfactory defence.You have 28 days to name the driver. If you need more time, explain this to the police with the reasons why.
  • What is the maximum penalty?
    If you fail to identify the driver within 28 days, this can result in six penalty points and a fine of up to £1,000.

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Fixed Penalty Notice

  • Can I dispute a fixed penalty notice?
    Yes, as it is a take it or leave it offer, you have 28 days to reject it.
  • I want to avoid penalty points. Can I pay a larger fine instead?
    No, the conditional offer is three points and £60. If you are not happy with the offer, you can argue your case at court, but the penalty is unlikely to be reduced.
  • I have received two penalty notices. Can I accept both offers in the 28 day time limit?
    If they have been issued by the same unit, you can return them together. If not, send of the first one, requesting that your licence is returned quickly. If your licence is not returned within the deadline, contact the other authority to ask for an extension.

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Insurance

  • When do I notify my insurer of a motoring conviction?
    You need to notify your insurer as soon as there is the likelihood of prosecution, and advise them immediately if you are convicted. If you don’t, your insurance can be declared void, resulting in any claim being rejected.
  • What is the punishment for driving unaccompanied on a provisional licence?
    You will be prosecuted for driving otherwise in accordance with your licence, which would result in three to six penalty points and a fine. This would void any insurance, so you are likely to also be charged with driving uninsured, which carries six to eight points and a fine.

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Mobile Phone Related

  • Can I be prosecuted for moving or switching on my hand-held mobile while driving?
    Yes. Using the device covers moving, holding or switching on the phone, even if you can prove you didn’t make a call or send a text.
  • Why have I been prosecuted for using a hands-free phone?
    If you use a hands-free mobile, and the police feel you were driving in a poor or careless manner, you can be prosecuted for not being in proper control of the vehicle – which carries three penalty points and a fine.If you are in an accident, mobile phone records can be used to prove you were not paying full attention, resulting in a larger sentence and even possible imprisonment.
  • Can my employer be considered guilty if I use a hand-held phone?
    Yes, if they require you to use a hand-held phone while driving or if they permit you to use such devices. However, they would not be considered liable just for supplying the phone or calling while you were driving.

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New Drivers and Revocation

  • What is the points limit for new drivers?
    New drivers will have their licence revoked if they accumulate six or more penalty points within two years of passing their test, including points carried over from their provisional licence.
  • What happens if I have six or more points on my provisional licence?
    Having six or more points on your provisional licence does not mean losing your licence immediately after passing your test; incurring any further points will result in your licence being revoked.
  • Do I need to reapply for my licence?
    Drivers will need to reapply for their provision licence, and then retake their theory and practical tests.

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Notice of Intended Prosecution

  • How long do the police have to contact me after an incident?
    A Notice of Intended Prosecution should be sent to the registered owner within 14 days. Provided this deadline is met, the owner has 28 days to provide the identity of the driver.If the issue date on the notice is more than 14 days after the incident, then you can reject it. This does not apply if the date is within the deadline, but you received it 14 days after the event.

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Parking

  • If a ticket is being issued as I return to my car and drive off, is it valid?
    If it is issued by a council parking attendant, then you are not liable if the ticket was not handed to you or attached to the car.Tickets issued by a police officer or traffic warden can be sent to you and still be valid.

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Speeding Offences

  • How long do the police have to contact me after I have been flashed by a speed camera?
    A Notice of Intended Prosecution should be sent to the registered owner within 14 days. Provided this deadline is met, the owner has 28 days to provide the identity of the driver.
  • I was driving just over the speed limit, what is the likely penalty?
    This will often result in three penalty points and a fine, although a speed awareness course may be offered as an alternative to penalty points. If you attend the course you will not need to pay the fine, but will pay a similar price in course fees.
  • When am I likely to receive an immediate ban?
    Higher speeds, usually at least 40 percent over the limit, frequently attract a ban of from seven to 120 days. Alternatively six penalty points can be awarded, which can lead to disqualification as a result of totting up more than 12 points.
  • What is the maximum penalty for speeding on the motorway?
    The maximum punishment for speeding on the motorway is £2,500 and six penalty points or disqualification.
  • Will I receive penalty points for speeding in a temporary limit?
    Yes, the regulations are the same for temporary and permanent speed limits.
  • I was caught speeding in a 30 mph limit that was not signposted. Can I dispute the case?
    A restricted road is one where there is a system of street lights, with the lights not more than 200 yards apart. Unless signposted otherwise, the speed limit is assumed to be 30 mph.When such a system of street lighting is not in place, there are strict regulations regarding the signs that must be displayed. Often, local authorities fail to display the proper road signs, which may be enough to constitute a case.

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Traffic Light Offences

  • What is the penalty for going through a red light?
    The maximum penalty is three penalty points and a fine, which is £60 for a fixed penalty and up to £1,000 in court.
  • If I speed through a red light, will I be convicted of two offences?
    Most likely, you will receive a fixed penalty for going through a red light only. Even if you are prosecuted for both, as they are simultaneous events, you will only receive one set of penalty points.
  • If I stopped at a red light, the driver behind would have hit me. Is this a defence?
    Not if the lights are red, as you must stop regardless of the circumstances.

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Vehicle Defects

  • What are the penalties for driving without an MOT?
    Driving without a valid MOT can void any insurance and leaves you liable to be fined for MOT non-compliance.You can drive the vehicle to a pre-arranged test or to a garage for any repairs that are required for the vehicle to pass its MOT.
  • What are the penalties for driving a defective vehicle?
    For minor defects, such as faulty lights, you are likely to be offered the chance to correct the defect and then have the car inspected at an approved garage to prove the fault has been fixed.If, however, the vehicle is in a dangerous condition, you face a fine of up to £2,500 (greater if you drive a large goods or passenger vehicle), three penalty points and possible disqualification. Committing this offence twice within three years will result in an automatic ban of at least six months.

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Other Offences

  • What is the penalty for driving while disqualified?
    Driving while disqualified or allowing a disqualified driver to do so are both offences.A conviction can result in a custodial sentence of up to six months, as well as six penalty points and a fine of up to £5,000. You may also receive a further driving ban.
  • What happens if I obtain a new licence while banned?
    Attempting to obtain a new licence whilst disqualified can result in a £1,000 fine. As the licence is invalid, you may also be charged with driving without a licence, which carries a penalty of three to six points and a maximum fine of £1,000.
  • What is the penalty for a seat belt offence?
    This usually results in a fixed penalty fine of £60, which can increase to a maximum of £500 if the case goes to court or for repeat offenders.
  • I don’t intend to drive my vehicle. Do I need to pay tax?
    If you will not be using your vehicle on the public road, you will need to apply for a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN), which is valid for 12 months. Note that if your vehicle is parked on the road, even if you do not use it, you will need to pay vehicle tax.

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FAQ Animations

Driving Ban/Disqualification

Exceptional Hardship