How many points am I allowed on my driving licence?
In the UK, the majority of driving offences result in punishments consisting of fines and penalty points. Most offences have a fixed number of penalty points, which you can find on the Gov.uk website, however points for some offences may be determined in court and will depend on the circumstances of both the driving offence and the defendant. Here we will provide a guide to penalty points and their implications on your future as a driver.
How do penalty points work?
Each driving offence has a special code and is given penalty points on a scale from two to ten. The more serious the offence is, the more points you will receive.
In some cases immediate disqualification is mandatory. If you are caught committing a driving offence, such as driving using a hand held mobile phone you will need to hand over your licence to the police, a fixed penalty office or when you appear in court.
The penalty points will be put on your driver record and written on the counterpart document of your driving licence. The points on your licence will be effective for three years from the date of conviction and remain there for a minimum of four years.
After four years have passed since your Fixed Penalty Notice was served, you will be able to apply to the DVLA to have the points removed from your licence. If you commit a serious driving offence, the points can remain on your licence for up to eleven years.
Penalty points for new and experienced drivers
If you have held a full driving licence for more than two years, you can accumulate up to twelve penalty points in any three year period before being banned from driving. If however you have held a full driving licence for less than two years and accumulate six penalty points, your licence may be revoked under The New Drivers Act.
If you have accumulated the maximum number of points (outlined above) via several completely separate offences or you commit a serious offence that is deemed worth twelve points or more then you may be disqualified from driving.
The time you are disqualified for will be dependent on the seriousness of your offences. If you are disqualified for less than fifty six days (for speeding or a similar offence) your licence will be returned to you at the end of the disqualification period and will be deemed valid, without any further testing.
If you have totted up twelve penalty points in any three year period, disqualification is mandatory. There are however some exemptions, which may lead to you retaining your driving licence. For this, you will require legal representation in court and must be able to justify a submission of exceptional hardship.
Some individuals are able to retain their driving licences in the case of disqualification through proving exceptional hardship. There is no statutory definition of exceptional hardship, with conclusions being based on individual circumstances in court.
In order to prove exceptional hardship, the consequences of you being banned from driving must be beyond what would be reasonable foreseeable. For example, whilst loss of job would not automatically be deemed as an exceptional hardship, the implications that arise from the loss of employment may amount to it.
Defendants are required to present their case in court and will require legal representation. See this article by Motor Lawyers for more information.
Impact on car insurance
If you have a motoring conviction, insurers will see you as being a higher risk driver. This will usually result in more expensive car insurance quotes. According to this article by Go Compare, how much your premium will increase by will depend on your insurance company’s conviction policy, the type of conviction, the type of vehicle and your age
Alternatives to penalty points
In many areas of the UK, driving awareness courses can be taken in exchange for receiving penalty points for motoring offences. These courses are designed to educate drivers in hope that they will not make the same mistake again, rather than punishing them.
If you are eligible to attend a speed awareness course or red light camera course you will be invited via a letter from the police.
Courses are usually expensive (in the region of £60.00 to £90.00) so either way, committing a driving offence is going to cost you money that you could avoid paying, by simply taking a little extra care on the roads.