If you've been caught drink driving or running a red light, you'll know that these offences automatically lead to points on your licence. But, do you know what an endorsement code is, or even how points on your licence could affect your future insurance? We answer every points-related question you could possibly have, and even spoke to specialist solicitors at Auriga Advocates for their legal take on licence points!
Did you know that as of September 2020 there were 38.8 million vehicles licensed for use on the roads? That's an astounding number of drivers responsible for vehicles that may or may not be aware of the rules and regulations around penalty points for motoring offences…
It's best not to leave anything down to chance, so that's why we've got all the answers to your burning questions in one place.
But…what if you're clued up already?
Well, even if you think you're in the clear because you're a total Steady Eddie on the road, it's good to be aware of the penalties of poor driving and how exactly the points system works – because let's face it, landing points on your licence is the last thing you want.
There's even some top tips from an expert solicitor outlining what to do if you're served with a penalty.
What Are Endorsement Codes And Penalty points?
First things first, let's crack the lingo. It can be tricky to get your head around the jargon – endorsement-this and penalty code-that – so here's all you need to know.
An endorsement is simply an entry on your driving record. This will show the type of offence you've been convicted of, the date of the offence and the date of conviction. Each endorsement has a special code and is given penalty points on a scale of 1 to 11.
Looking for a specific endorsement code, driving offence or penalty point? Click here for full details.
How does the points system work?
Simply put: the more serious the offence, the more points you'll get on your driving record.
For example, 'failing to stop after an accident' (endorsement code: AC10), could get anything from 5-10 penalty points because it's viewed as a serious offence. Alternatively, 'failing to comply with a school crossing patrol sign' (endorsement code: TS60), would only get 3 penalty points because it's viewed as a minor offence.
And remember, not all driving offences will lead to points on your licence, but most have the potential to.
For less serious traffic offences the police could choose to give you a 'fixed penalty notice', meaning you would just receive a fine of up to £200. However, this is not always the case. Police action can vary from: simply issuing a warning, offering further driver training or charging you with an offence.
How Long Do Points Stay On Your Licence?
Points can stay on your driving record for 4-11 years. But, that's not all – did you know that having points marked on your licence can have a wider impact on your day-to-day life too?
They can be seen by future employers and insurance companies – just one of the many reasons that you should be extra careful out on the road, because you never know when those licence points might come back around to bite you in the bum!
While this is true, the points on your driving licence might not adversely affect you for the whole penalty period. This is because your points are only 'valid' for a section of the full endorsement period, e.g. a 4-year endorsement is valid for 3 years, or 10 years of validity for an 11 year embellishment on your licence.
So, what are 'valid' points?
When points are 'valid', they can be used in court and counted when tallying your total points, to see if your licence should be suspended or banned. In simple terms, this means that if you are caught committing another offence in the final year of a pre-existing endorsement, the court won't count these older (i.e. invalid) points, when calculating your total.
Can You Avoid Landing Points On Your Licence?
...apart from not committing an offence in the first place? There is no way to remove the points from your licence once they're marked – you'll just have to wait until the points expire (after 4 years), when the DVLA will automatically remove them at the appropriate time.
But, if you receive a penalty for speeding, sometimes (if you're lucky and within the requirements), you will be given the option to attend a speed awareness course instead. The scheme allows motorists who have committed minor offences to do a course with the aim of improving their behaviour whilst on the road.
You'll qualify to be considered for a UK speed awareness course if:
You haven't attended a speed awareness course in the last 3 years.
You've been caught driving over 10% + 2mph, but below 10% + 9mph – e.g. in a 30mph, this means anything between 35mph and 42mph.
Did you know…?
…that in 2020, 1.09 million people took the National Speed Awareness Course, despite traffic levels being so much lower during the pandemic and lockdown periods?
That's a big bunch of people that need educating about acceptable road behaviour!
Want to know more? Check out the full trends and stats from The National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) here.
How Can Points Impact Your Insurance?
If you are issued with a driving conviction or penalty (whether it's a minor or serious offence), you need to inform your insurer, as they will take this into account when they work out your insurance quote.
And, if insurance companies are not made aware of driving convictions they could refuse to deal with a claim.
If you do have points on your licence, you could be seen as a bigger risk – this means that your quote might be higher. Insurers assess customers differently and there is no 'one rule fits all' when it comes to a quoted price.
Most insurance companies will ask for details of any driving convictions that you've received in the past 5 years. And remember, if you have got points on your licence, it's illegal to withhold this information so make sure you present it honestly when they ask you. Whilst it may seem reasonable just to disclose this information at renewal or when shopping for quotes, an insurance company would expect to be informed at the point of conviction. Failing to do so risks invalidating the policy.
Where Can You View Your Licence Points?
Viewing your licence information has never been easier – 21st century living means that you can view your driving record, check your penalty points and even create a licence 'check code' to share your driving record with someone all online - something you may well need to do when hiring a car..
If you are unsure about how many points you have, or when they were added, click here to check your driving licence.
Here's 3 Top-Tips To Keep You Out Of Trouble…
Are you a new driver on the road? New drivers face much stricter penalties when it comes to the rules and regulations around licence points. Any new driver who gets 6 or more points during their first 2 years after passing their driving test, will have their licence revoked.
Here are our 3 pearls of wisdom for any newbies taking on the road for the first time:
Make others aware of you by using 'P' plates. Having these displayed on your vehicle will let others around you know that you're a new driver and that they should consider driving more cautiously. You’re more likely to be forgiven by other drivers for minor misdemeanours whilst you get to grips with everyday driving.
Refrain from giving your friends lifts straight away. They could be distracting, and you should take the time to get used to driving without an instructor in your own time.
Ignore your phone. Place it out of sight, and preferably muted – this is another huge distraction for drivers behind the wheel and can cause serious accidents.
The easiest way to swerve landing penalty points on your licence is to be cautious when you're on the road – make that extra check for any speed cameras and don't drive like a nutter…simples!
Expert Advice From A Solicitor
What if you need legal advice? Well, you've come to the right place! We spoke to expert motoring offence solicitor, Andrea Clegg, who has over 20 years' experience working in law, managing a firm (Auriga Advocates) specialising in road traffic defence.
Andrea says that there's a definite lack of knowledge and education around motoring law – driving offences and their penalties – suggesting that people think they know the law, when they don't…and they should get to know it better.
Motoring Points Top Facts
The recurring driving offences Auriga deals with are: speeding, (and 'totting up' in particular – the accumulation of penalty points on someone's driving licence: a certain number in a fixed period leads to disqualification) and driving over the alcohol limit. It comes as no surprise they're the big ones!
People who drive for a living (taxi drivers and delivery drivers), are their most regular seekers of legal aid, with drivers with mobile phone offences being close behind.
Motorists often won't seek legal aid based on the consequences outlined in the penalty letter they initially receive from the court, explicitly emphasising what will happen if they don't plead guilty. This naturally scares drivers into thinking they have no chance or case in court, so they don't try pursuing legal advice in the first place, simply accepting the penalty instead.
You can usually receive free legal help from most firms. Andrea believes that "everyone should have a fair opportunity to put their case forward", also commenting that "people can often be poorly guided and represented when looking for the right legal advice".
Final Licence Points Advice
Andrea says that "If you're issued with a penalty, seek help straight away and don't just rely on what you've learnt in your driving test – because the chances are, you probably don't know your rights as well as you might think you do! People are too quick to accept penalties and they believe they know the law – when they don't, and everyone should have a fair opportunity to put their case forward."
Sounds like good advice to me!