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Motoring Offence Penalties

Penalty Points

Every endorsable road traffic offence attracts a number of penalty points varying from 2 to 11. If convicted, the court must order the endorsement of penalty points on the driver’s licence unless there are either ‘special reasons’ for not doing so, or in the case of some offences, the fact that a driver did not know of and had no reason to suspect the condition of the vehicle, may have the same effect.

Discretionary Disqualification

In addition, some offences will attract either a ‘discretionary disqualification’ (i.e. the court may disqualify e.g. no insurance or driving without due care and attention) or a ‘mandatory disqualification’ (i.e. the court must disqualify e.g. drink driving or dangerous driving). ‘Special reasons’ means that a person should not be penalised by endorsement or disqualification. The special reason must:

  • Be a mitigating circumstance
  • not amount to a legal defence to the charge
  • be directly connected with the circumstances in which the offence was committed
  • not relate solely to the circumstances of the driver
  • be a factor which the court ought to properly take into consideration when deciding the sentence, e.g. driving in an emergency may amount to a ‘special reason’ not to disqualify in certain circumstances or the shortness of the distance driven may be a ‘special reason’ but not where the driver’s intention was to drive a longer distance.


When a driver accumulates 12 or more penalty points within any 3-year period, he/she will become liable to disqualification under the penalty points provisions and may be disqualified from driving in accordance with the following minimum periods:

  • 6 months if no previous disqualification* is to be taken into account
  • 1 year if one previous disqualification* is to be taken into account
  • 2 years if there is more than one such disqualification*.

*A relevant disqualification means a disqualification of a period of 56 days or more within 3 years of the latest offence.

  • a restriction on mobility for a driver with severe health problems
  • a threat to the stability of employees if a manager is unable to fulfil their role
  • loss of employment, on its own, will not usually amount to exceptional hardship without further evidence of finances, prospects or family circumstances.

A disqualification is mandatory for certain offences, e.g. driving or attempting to drive a vehicle on a road with alcohol above the prescribed limit. For other offences a disqualification from driving will be discretionary, e.g. no insurance.

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