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Guide to Road Traffic Offences

Most road traffic offences are minor and for many people they will be their only experience of the justice system. However, the Crown Prosecution Service considers the prosecution of such offences as fundamental to the implementation of road safety and protection of the public.

The proliferation of road surveillance technology has hugely increased the risk of losing your licence whether you drive for domestic or commercial purposes. It is therefore important that you are aware of the potential consequences of breaching the Road Traffic Act 1988 (‘RTA').

It is also essential that anyone facing prosecution receive proper advice to avoid potential injustice and unnecessary hardship, particularly from disqualification.

The Penalty Points System

There is a penalty points system in place designed to deter road users from committing offences under the RTA. If a driver or motorcyclist accumulates 12 points or more over a three year period, then a court must disqualify them for a minimum of 6 months, or longer if they have been previously disqualified.

If new drivers accumulate 6 points over their first two years of driving, starting from the date of passing their practical test, then their licence will be revoked and they will have to take another theory and practical test.

The court also has discretion to disqualify a driver for a certain amount of time for committing any offence that attracts penalty points.

Common Road Traffic Offences

Some of the most common road traffic offences that may result in a ban include:

• Causing death by dangerous driving:
o 3-11 points if not disqualified; or
o 14 years imprisonment/unlimited fine/obligatory disqualification for 2 years.
• Dangerous driving:
o 3-11 points if not disqualified; or
o 2 years imprisonment/unlimited fine/ obligatory disqualification.
• Driving under the influence of alcohol over the prescribed limit or drugs or failing to provide a specimen for analysis e.g. refusing a breath test:
o 3-11 points if not disqualified; or
o 6 months' imprisonment/£5000 fine/ obligatory disqualification.
• Failure to stop after an accident/failing to report an accident:
o 5-10 points; or
o 6 months' imprisonment/£5000 fine /discretionary disqualification.
• Driving while disqualified:
o 6 points; or
o 6 months' imprisonment/£5000 fine/discretionary disqualification.
• Driving without insurance:
o 3 points; and
o discretionary disqualification but obligatory disqualification if committed within 3 years of previous conviction for same offence.
• Using a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving:
o 3 points; and
o £1000 fine/discretionary disqualification.
• Speeding:
o 3-6 points; and
o £1000 fine/discretionary disqualification. Sometimes drivers are offered a speed awareness course and a payment in lieu of penalty points.
• Traffic light offences:
o 3 points; and
o £1000 fine/discretionary disqualification.

Some offences are only subject to fines such as not having an MOT certificate (£1000 fine) and seatbelt offences (£500 fine).

If you are stopped by the police for some minor road traffic offences you may be issued with a ‘fixed penalty notice' resulting in a fine or penalty points. However, the police may instead issue a warning, offer driver training, prosecute you or, in some instances, do nothing at all.

Avoiding a Ban

If a driver can prove to the court that they will suffer exceptional hardship, disqualification may be avoided or reduced.

Alternatively, if a driver can prove that there were exceptional circumstances which related to the commission of the offence, the court may also choose not to implement a ban.

Anyone facing a ban should seek advice from a solicitor experienced in dealing with road traffic offences to help them assess the best strategy for a defending their case. If you have already been banned it is possible to appeal the sentence.

If you wish to receive free expert advice please contact our Central London office on 020 7353 6660 and via email to solicitors@kaimtodner.com.

Useful Links

The following links may be useful if you need more information.