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Types of driving offence and their punishments explained

Last updated: 18/11/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

While most Brits wouldn't knowingly break the law, there is a wide range of offences that could land you in hot water behind the wheel if you’re not careful. This guide will walk you through some of these offences, as well as the associated punishments, so that you know what to avoid and what you’re risking if you don’t.

In This Guide:

What is a driving offence?

A driving offence is any action taken by the driver or owner of a vehicle which contravenes the Road Traffic Act. While most of these offences relate to the physical operation of the vehicle, some also apply to administrative offences such as failing to insure a vehicle or failing to provide documentation on request.

Types of motoring offence (and their penalties)

Offence Description Punishment
Speeding Offences which involve driving a vehicle too fast on a public road. The most common driving offence in the UK, speeding notices are usually given when a driver is breaking the speed limit by more than 10%, but this isn't always the case so don't assume this leeway. 3-6 penalty points, potential speed awareness course, minimum £100 fine.
Drink & drug driving Offences involving being unfit to drive due to alcohol or other legal or illegal drugs. You can be tested using a breathalyser or field impairment test.

Learn more about convictions and their effect on car insurance here:
  • Drink Driving - (
  • Drug Driving - (
3 months to 14 years imprisonment depending on severity (most offences up to 3-6 months), unlimited fines, driving ban in many cases. Criminal record
Failure to provide information The driver of a vehicle is committing an offence if they fail to provide on request information about themselves such as a driving licence. Any other person is also committing an offence if they fail to provide this information if it is reasonably within their power to give it. A fine of up to £1,000, 6 penalty points on your driving licence and/or a disqualification from driving
Dangerous driving Driving which “falls far below what would be expected of competent and careful driving, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.” Unlimited fine, driving ban and up to 14 years in prison.
Careless or inconsiderate driving Driving below the standard expected of a competent and careful driver, including misusing lanes, turning into the path of other vehicles, unnecessarily slow driving etc £100 fixed penalty notice, 3 penalty points
Driving using a mobile phone Using a mobile phone while in control of a vehicle, even when stopped in traffic, without the use of an adequate hands-free device. £200 roadside fine, 6 penalty points
Document offences Driving a vehicle without the minimum allowed level of insurance (third party) or the correct documentation to identify the driver. £300 roadside fine, 6 penalty points

Our guide to penalty points will tell you all you need to know about points on your licence, including how many will lead to you being disqualified from driving.

What to do if you're charged with a motoring offence

If you've been charged with a motoring offence you generally have two options: accept the charge or plead your case in court. While in many cases it will be clear that your charge is correct and you should accept the charge and punishment that comes with it, in some cases it might be possible to appeal the charge and have it overturned.

For this reason, you should seek legal advice if you believe the charge may be incorrect or ac ase of mistaken identity at all.

How will committing a driving offence affect my car insurance?

Driving offences will generally drive up your car insurance premiums, although some will affect insurance far more than others. Check out our guide on convicted driver insurance for more details about how driving offences affect car insurance premiums.

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