Expert Fitting Service

Motoring Laws.

The following is only a selection of the important UK motoring laws in summary form
as of December 2005.

Fixed penalties for motoring offences
Non-endorsable / endorsable A police officer decides
A cheaper option
Multi-offence conviction
Accumulation of points Speed limits.
Evidence in speeding cases
Penalty points system

Fixed penalties for motoring offences.

There are two main groups of motoring offences for which a Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) may be issued.
For minor offences involving no licence endorsements, the FPN will be £20.00 outside London and £40.00 for a Red Route offence. These offences range from improper parking to the non-wearing of a seat belt. In Scotland the scheme is much wider.

For some more serious offences involving the endorsements of penalty points on licences, the FPN will be £60.00. If payment is made within 28 days that will be the end of the matter.

More serious offences are outside the scope of the FPN schemes so penalty points may only be imposed by a court.

Non-endorsable / endorsable.

In the case of non-endorsable offences involving stationary vehicles (e.g.. Parking), FPN may be fixed to a vehicle by a traffic warden or a police officer.

In the case of other minor offences related to driving a vehicle, but not involving licence endorsements (e.g.. Not wearing a safety helmet or driving the wrong way in a one way street), a FPN may be given to the driver but only by a uniformed police officer.

To challenge a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) or have mitigating circumstances considered, write to the council whose address is on the back of the ticket. If they refuse to cancel the ticket you can take up an appeal with an independent tribunal.

In the case of endorsable offences coming within the scheme, only a uniformed police officer is able to give a FPN

Traffic wardens may, however, issue notices for parking in pedestrian crossing areas, subject to local policy. The police officer will want to examine the drivers licence in order to check any penalty points, because a FPN cannot be given for an offence which would take the total points to 12 or more, as this generally requires disqualification to be ordered by a court.

A police officer decides.

Whether the offence involves points or not, only a police officer can decide when to give a FPN. A driver cannot demand such an opportunity to avoid prosecution in a court.

In the case of an endorsable offences, the driver will be asked to surrender his/hers licence to the police officer on receiving the FPN. If a driver has not got his/her licence with them, they will issue a "Provisional Fixed Penalty Notice" requiring him/her to take it to a police station of there choice, (other than one in Scotland), within 7 days and, provided endorsement does not bring the number of penalty points to 12 or more, the provisional fixed penalty will be converted to a substantive one. The licence will be returned after the penalty points have been endorsed and the penalty has either been paid of registered as a fine.

If a fixed penalty is not paid, or a court hearing not requested within 28 days by the registered owner of the vehicle, the penalty will be increased by 50% and registered as a fine after which the court will be able to use all its powers to enforce payment.

The motorist is under no obligation to pay a fixed penalty if he/she considers himself/herself innocent of any offence charged and the right to elect trial in court is clearly stated in the notice. He/she has 28 days to decide what to do - pay the penalty or take the matter to the court.

A cheaper option.

Generally speaking, payment of the fixed penalty is likely to be a cheaper option than contesting the matter in court, where there is a risk of costs being awarded against the motorist. Whilst attendance at court is usually unnecessary if pleading guilty to a relatively minor offence, the motorist still suffers inconvenience and anxiety prior to the court hearing - he/she has to consider preparing a statement of mitigating circumstances, there is the inevitable wait before being informed of the fine imposed and the need to arrange prompt payment after notification. This can be avoided if the motorist accepts the fixed penalty. Seek advice in this case from a legal department.

Multi-offence conviction.

On conviction of more than one offence on the same occasion, penalty points are only be imposed in respect of the offence receiving the highest number of points.

Accumulation of points.

Disqualification for at least 6 months will follow the accumulation of 12 penalty points within the period of 3 years - for instance four 3 point speeding offences committed.

Once this has happened the points cease to count and after the expiry of the disqualification the driver starts again with a 'clean slate'.

I the driver has 12 points of more has already had a disqualification within 3 years proceeding the commission of the latest offence he/she will be disqualified for at least 12 months. If he/she has had two or more he/she will be disqualified for at least 2 years. The courts have the power to order shorter disqualification or no disqualification if exceptional hardship is involved but their powers to do so are restricted. Offenders will not be able to plead the same mitigating circumstances more than once in three years.

Penalty points for each offence which do not result in disqualification - in other words, those who do not add up to 12 within 3 years - will cease to count 3 years after the date of the offence.

You can apply to the DVLA (Swansea) for the removal of the points after 4 years from the date of the offence.

The Road Traffic ( New Drivers) Act 1995

This Act will affect you if you pass your first driving test on or after 1 June 1997. If you incur penalty points in the two year period immediately following your first successful driving test, and your penalty points add up to 6 or more (including any that were incurred within 3 years of the latest conviction) your licence will be revoked by DVLA. You will then have to obtain a provisional licence, drive as a learner and pass the theory and practical test again in order to regain your full driving licence. Passing the re-test will not remove the penalty points from your licence, and if the total reaches 12, you are liable to be disqualified by a court.

Speed limits.

The speed limit on a Motorway / Dual Carriageway 70mph and that on other roads 60mph. Only roads subject to a lower limit have to be marked by signs.

A general speed limit of 30mph applies on roads having street lighting provided by means of lamps placed 200 yards or less apart unless there are de-restriction signs. On other roads where the speed limit is in excess of 30mph a motorist shall not be convicted for exceeding the speed limit unless 'repeater' signs are erected.

I suggest if you have ant doubt the get a copy of the 'Highway Code'

Evidence in speeding cases.

The opinion of two people (not necessarily police officers) is enough to secure a conviction. Alternatively, the court will usually accept the evidence of one police officer who followed the accused and was watching a speedometer, or who noted the speed on equipment. If the limit was exceeded by only 5mph or less the motorist will usually be given a caution.

Speeding is an absolute offence and it is no defence to argue that the speeding did not cause any danger. If danger was caused then it is likely that the more serious of charges of careless or dangerous driving may also be brought.

It is extremely difficult to defend a speeding charge successfully. Usually it is alleged that the motorist was exceeding the limit by at least 10mph so it is difficult to argue that this was a mistake or that the police officer's speedometer was inaccurate. It is particularly difficult to defend a charge if the motorist was caught in a electronic trap (e.g.. Radar, laser & Gatso), since all such speed measuring devices are Home Office approved and few magistrates are prepared to accept the argument of mistaken identity.

Penalty points system.

Offences attracting penalty points, together with details of the points, which will be imposed, are listed in the following chart. No disqualification may be ordered unless there is an order for endorsement. Some offences carry a compulsory order for disqualification and this must be imposed by the court unless there are 'special reasons' for not doing so.

Disqualification remains obligatory for certain offences (e.g. dangerous driving, or drinking and driving as opposed to being drunk in charge), so, in general terms, penalty points will only be endorsed in cases where the licence endorsement is obligatory and disqualification is discretionary but not imposed. If a previous drink driving offence took place during the 10 years preceding the current offence, the court must disqualify for at least 3 years.

The court also has the power to order a re-test following conviction for any endorsable offence if considered appropriate.

Penalty points.

Play Street offences
Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight.
Exceeding a speed limit (dealt with by a fixed penalty) i.e. £40.00 fine payable within 28 days.
Failure to obey sign exhibited by school crossing patrol.
Contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations.
Contravention of traffic regulations on special roads (e.g. motorways).
Contravention of certain construction and use regulations (e.g. dangerous condition, defective breaks, steering or tyres).
Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position and stopping within the confines of a Pelican/Zebra crossing.
Failure to give information.
3 - 6
Learner motorcyclist with a passenger.
Driving otherwise than in accordance with a Licence (e.g. under age, unsupervised in car, no 'L' plates.
Exceeding a speed limit (Summons).
3 - 9
Careless or inconsiderate driving.
3 - 11
Dangerous driving (Disqualify for 12 months minimum, unless special reason and order extended re-test Custodial sentence may apply.
Refusing roadside breath test.
5 - 10
Failing to stop after an accident (Discretionary Disqualification).
Failing to report an accident to the police (Discretionary Disqualification).
Driving while disqualified by order of court (Discretionary Disqualification).
6 - 8
Using, or causing of permitting use of, motor vehicle uninsured and unsecured against third party risks (Discretionary Disqualification).
Being in charge of a motor vehicle when unfit through drink or drugs (Discretionary Disqualification. Custodial sentence may apply)
Being in charge of a motor vehicle with alcohol above the prescribed limit (Discretionary Disqualification. Community penalty or Custodial sentence may apply).
Failing to provide specimen for analysis in 'in charge' cases (Discretionary Disqualification. Custodial sentence may apply).


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