Penalty points and disqualification
The penalty point system is intended to deter drivers and motorcyclists from following unsafe motoring practices. Certain non-motoring offences, e.g. failure to rectify vehicle defects, can also attract penalty points. The court MUST order points to be endorsed on the licence according to the fixed number or the range set by Parliament. The accumulation of penalty points acts as a warning to drivers and motorcyclists that they risk disqualification if further offences are committed.
[Law RTOA sects 44 & 45]
A driver or motorcyclist who accumulates 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period MUST be disqualified. This will be for a minimum period of six months, or longer if the driver or motorcyclist has previously been disqualified.
[Law RTOA sect 35]
For every offence which carries penalty points the court has a discretionary power to order the licence holder to be disqualified. This may be for any period 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 disqualification. 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 10 years will result in a minimum of three years’ disqualification.
[Law RTOA sect 34]
Please Click here to open Law RTOA Sec 34 in PDF
[Law RTOA sect 36]
New drivers. Special rules as set out below apply for a period of two years from the date of passing their first driving test, to drivers and motorcyclists from
- the UK, EU/EEA, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands or Gibraltar who passed their first driving test in any of those countries
- other foreign countries who have to pass a UK driving test to gain a UK licence, in which case the UK driving test is treated as their first driving test; and
- other foreign countries who (without needing a test) exchanged their licence for a UK licence and subsequently passed a UK driving test to drive another type of vehicle, in which case the UK driving test is treated as their first driving test. For example a driver who exchanges a foreign licence (car) for a UK licence (car) and who later passes a test to drive another type of vehicle (e.g. an HGV) will be subject to the special rules
Where a person subject to the special rules accumulates six or more penalty points before the end of the two-year period (including any points acquired before passing the test) their licence will be revoked automatically. To regain the licence they must reapply for a provisional licence and may drive only as a learner until they pass a further driving test (see also ‘Safety code for new drivers’).
Note. This applies even if they pay for offences by fixed penalty. Drivers in the first group (UK, EU/EEA etc.) who already have a full licence for one type of vehicle are not affected by the special rules if they later pass a test to drive another type of vehicle.
Other consequences of offending
Where an offence is punishable by imprisonment then the vehicle used to commit the offence may be confiscated.
[Law PCC(S)A, sect 143]
In addition to the penalties a court may decide to impose, the cost of insurance is likely to rise considerably following conviction for a serious driving offence. This is because insurance companies consider such drivers are more likely to be involved in a collision.
The following type of drivers have to satisfy the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s Medical Branch that they do not have an alcohol problem
- drivers disqualified for drinking and driving twice within 10 years
- drivers disqualified once if over two and a half times the legal limit
- drivers who refused to give a specimen
They may also need to prove they are fit to drive before their licence is returned at the end of their period of disqualification. Persistent misuse of drugs or alcohol may lead to the withdrawal of a driving licence.