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Penalty Points Explained

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Last updated: 03/08/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Penalty points (or 'endorsements') are placed on your licence if you commit a driving offence. They can affect your car insurance premiums, and if the add up within a certain period, you can be disqualified from driving. 

We'll go over exactly how points are acquired, how long they last, and how to get rid of them, in this guide.

In This Guide:

What are penalty points?

You are assigned penalty points if you are convicted of a driving offence. There are a whole host of things that you can get penalty points for, but the general rule is that the more serious your offence, the more points you will get. If you get too many in a certain period, you can be disqualified from driving completely.

You are assigned penalty points if you are convicted of a driving offence . There are a whole host of things that you can get penalty points for, but the general rule is that the more serious your offence, the more points you will get. If you get too many in a certain period, you can be disqualified from driving completely.

If you're caught committing a driving offence (e.g. speeding), one of two things can happen. If you're caught by a camera, you'll first be sent a Notification of Intended Prosecution (NIP), and a Section 172 Notice that you'll need to respond to with confirmation of who was driving the car. Following that, you'll be given a Fixed Penalty Notice (FNP). You can plead guilty or not guilty to an FPN. If you're found guilty you'll get a fine and points on your license

If you're caught by a police office, you'll get the FPN straight away.

How many penalty points do you get for different driving offences?

Here are some examples of the kinds of offences that can cause you to have penalty points assigned, and the rough number of points you may be awarded for being convicted of each:

  • Speeding offences: 6-8
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs: 3-11
  • Driving without insurance: 6-8
  • Failure to stop after an accident: 5-10
  • Dangerous driving: 3-11
  • Using a mobile phone while driving: 3-6
  • Driving a vehicle with defects: 3
  • Careless driving: 3-6
  • Driving while disqualified: 6
  • Causing death or serious injury by driving while disqualified: 3-11

The full range of offences, listed according to offence codes and with penalty points specified, can be found on the UK Government website.

How long do points stay on your license?

Penalty points remain 'valid' for a set period (usually three or ten years), which means they are active on your licence, and any more points you receive during that period will add to the total. They then remain on your licence for one further year, during which time a judge might take them into account if you commit a driving offence, but they don't tally up.

The amount of time that points remain valid for depends on the offence for which you earned them.

Most offences will earn you points that remain on your license for four years (valid for three), including:

  • Failing to stop after an accident
  • Driving while disqualified
  • Careless driving (that does not cause death)
  • Construction and use offences (e.g. driving with defective breaks or lights)

More serious offences will earn points that remain for 11 years (valid for ten), including:

  • Careless driving that causes death
  • Drink driving or drug driving

How to remove expired penalty points or endorsements from your driving license

Any points on your license should be removed automatically when the endorsements expire. If you can still see points that you think should have been removed, contact the DVLA.

You can check your points on the website, you'll need your national insurance number and your driving licence number.

You do not have to pay to remove expired points from your license.


You will be disqualified from driving if you are assigned more than 12 points over a 3-year period. This will mean you cannot drive for a certain length of time. The courts will decide how long this period lasts, but as a rough guide you could receive a driving ban for:

  • 6 months if you rack up 12 or more points in 3 years.
  • 1 year if you the disqualification is your second in a 3-year period.
  • 2 years if it's your third disqualification.

And you can't go straight back to driving either. Provided your disqualification was more than 56 days (and it usually is), you'll have to go through the process and cost of re-taking your driving test and securing a new driving licence.

It's even more strict for new drivers. If you are still in your probationary period (2 years from the date you pass your driving test), you have a limit of 6 points. If you are assigned 6 or more points in these 2 years, you will have your licence taken away. You will have to start from the beginning by applying for a provisional licence and taking both your theory and practical driving test. Any points on your provisional licence carry over to your full licence after you pass your test.

How to avoid getting penalty points

The most common way of getting penalty points is from speeding. The standard result of a speeding conviction is a £60 fine and 3 points on your driving licence.

If you don’t want these points, they can be avoided by attending a Speed Awareness Workshop (SAW). This course costs anywhere between £60 and £100 and will take half a day of your time, but it does prevent both the fine and the points.

This option is only available if it is your first or only speeding conviction within the last 3 years, and only for drivers whose convictions are less serious. If you were breaking the speed limit by over a certain amount, you may incur a larger fine and may be assigned more points.

Penalty points and car insurance

Another drawback to penalty points is the effect they can have on your car insurance. You are obliged to let your provider know about your conviction. Your premiums will almost certainly get more expensive, and if you are uninsured or starting again after a disqualification, you may struggle to find a provider willing to cover you at all.

If your conviction was for speeding and you chose to attend a Speed Awareness Workshop, your insurance premiums may still increase, but it’s likely that they will not increase as much as if you had chosen to accept the assignment of points on your licence.

Visit our guide on car insurance for convicted drivers for more information on how to get cheaper cover with points on your licence.

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