Traffic offences


British motorists are charged with committing more than 15 million traffic offences every year, and as a result it has never been more important for drivers and other road users to develop a sound understanding of motoring offence law.

Different types of motoring offence

Traffic offences are criminal matters, dealt with by the police. For the majority of minor motoring offences, the police will issue a ‘fixed penalty notice’ requiring the motorist to pay a fine.

The fixed penalty notice may also require the driver’s licence to be endorsed with penalty points. Fixed penalty notices are not criminal convictions however, and generally won’t show on any Criminal Records Bureau checks.

Serious motoring offences are usually dealt with in court, and often require the payment of a much larger fine, with additional penalties ranging from penalty point endorsements to disqualification. In the most serious cases, a custodial sentence may be handed down for a motoring offence. These more serious motoring offences will show on your criminal record.

The most common motoring offences committed by drivers relate to speeding and drink driving. In addition to these main offences other common motoring offences include:

  • Careless driving
  • Dangerous driving
  • Running a red light
  • Driving without a licence, MOT or insurance
  • Failing to report an accident

Common traffic offences

Speeding is extremely common, and is either detected by the police using radar technology or via a fixed speeding camera by the side of the road.

Speeding offences on all roads other than motorways can carry a fine of up to £1,000 and a ban of between 7 days and 8 weeks depending on the severity of the case and previous record of motoring offences. A ban is more likely when your speed exceeds 45% of the statutory limit, for example if you were caught travelling at 85mph in a 60mph limit.

Drink driving is a serious offence with severe penalties. It is a criminal offence to be in charge of a vehicle drunk. The legal alcohol limit is 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100ml of breath, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100ml of blood. Penalties for drink driving include:

  • Fines of up to £5,000
  • A custodial prison sentence of up to 6 months
  • A total ban from driving from between 12 and 36 months

There are also offences for failing to provide a specimen, and driving under the influence of drugs.

Totting up

Totting up is the system which allows the criminal court to provide a driver with a penalty other than an instant fine or driving ban. If an individual commits a motoring offence, the court will endorse his or her driving licence with a certain number of points which corresponds to the severity of the offence. Speeding offences will be met with an automatic minimum of three points endorsed.

If you have totted up 12 points on your licence within a three-year period then you may face a driving disqualification for a minimum of six months. However, the length will vary depending on individual circumstances. In special circumstances you can avoid a disqualification with 12 points but you must present a case of exceptional hardship to the court.

Motoring offences are serious, and can have a significant effect on your family, your job and your wallet. If you are involved in a motoring offence, be sure to take expert legal advice from a motoring law solicitor at the earliest opportunity.

Do you need a motoring offence solicitor to represent you for a charge? Do you want to bring a claim against another driver? Contact Law works with both defence and prosecution motoring offence lawyers who can help you resolve the issue as quickly as possible. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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