Your legal guide: Motoring offences and their penalties

Your legal guide: Motoring offences and their penalties

A motoring offence is by far the most common reason for usually law-abiding people to find themselves falling foul of the law. Of these offences around 70% are related to speeding.

The possible consequences of a motoring offence varies hugely according to how serious the allegation in question is. With our excellent track record in successfully defending clients in all aspects of road traffic law, the specialist solicitors at Purcell Parker will use their expertise to secure the best possible outcome for your case.

Here’s a guide to some of the more common motoring offences and their possible consequences:

Penalties for speeding

The minimum penalty for speeding is 3 penalty points on your driving licence and a fine of £100. This is the standard punishment when you commit a minor speeding offence and receive a Fixed Penalty Notice in the post.  If you are eligible, you may be offered the chance to attend a driver awareness course to avoid the fine and penalty points, although the cost of the course will be similar to the fine.

In April 2018, tougher new speeding laws came into force:

Band A

This category relates to the following speeding offences:

  • 21-30 mph in a 20 zone
  • 31-40 mph in a 30 zone
  • 41-55 mph in a 40 zone
  • 51-65 mph in a 50 zone
  • 61-80 mph in a 60 zone
  • 71-90 mph in a 70 zone

Penalties for Band A offences result in 3 points on your licence and a fine of between 25% and 75% of your weekly income.

Band B

Band B speeds are as follows:

  • 31-40 mph in a 20 zone
  • 41-50 mph in a 30 zone
  • 56-65 mph in a 40 zone
  • 66-75 mph in a 50 zone
  • 81-90 mph in a 60 zone
  • 91-100 mph in a 70 zone

If you are found guilty of a Band B offence, you can expect a fine of between 75% -125% of your weekly income and either disqualification for between 7 and 28 days or 4-6 points on your licence.

Band C

Band C offences involve speeds of:

  • 41+ in a 20 zone
  • 51+ in a 30 zone
  • 66+ in a 40 zone
  • 76+ in a 50 zone
  • 91+ in a 60 zone
  • 101+ in a 70 zone

For offences at these speeds, fines of 125% – 175% of monthly income plus a 7-56 day disqualification or 6 points on your licence will apply.

Court costs and victim surcharges can also be added to the fines, increasing what can be already significant financial consequences. Your history as a motorist will also be considered; for example, cases where people already have 9 points on their licence are automatically heard at the Magistrates’ Court. We can advise you on whether you have a valid defence against your speeding charge or mitigating reasons why your penalty should be reduced.

Advice from drink driving lawyers

At Purcell Parker we understand the personal and professional implications of losing your licence if you are caught drink driving, which include your employer seeing your conviction if you drive for work, increased insurance premiums and possible travel restrictions to countries including the USA. If appropriate, our lawyers can represent you in cases where special reasons or exceptional hardship indicate that we may be able to secure an outcome where you do not lose your licence, or the period of the ban is reduced.

If you are banned from driving for 12 months or longer, the court may decide that you are eligible to take a Drink-Drive Rehabilitation Scheme (DDRS) course which will qualify you for a reduction in the length of your ban.

Possible consequences of drink-driving are as follows:

Being in charge of a vehicle while over the legal limit

  • A possible driving ban
  • Up to £2,500 fine
  • 3 months in prison

Driving while over the legal limit

  • A driving ban of at least 1 year (or 3 years if you’ve been convicted twice in 10 years)
  • An unlimited fine
  • 6 months in prison

Refusing to supply a breath, blood or urine specimen for analysis:

  • At least 1 year’s driving ban
  • An unlimited fine
  • 6 months in prison

Causing death by dangerous driving when under the influence of alcohol:

  • A driving ban of at least 2 years
  • An unlimited fine
  • 14 years’ imprisonment
  • An extended driving test before your licence is reinstated unless you are considered to be a high risk offender who should not get their licence back

Even if you feel that there is no point in contesting a drink-driving charge, it is always important to take advice from our specialist solicitors to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.

Drug driving

Driving with illegal drugs in your system is against the law even if the levels detected aren’t high enough to affect your driving. If the levels of drugs in your body mean you’re unfit to drive, you will be breaking the law whether the drugs are illegal or not. If you’re taking medication, always check with your doctor or pharmacist whether the drug in question could affect your ability to drive.

Consequences for drug-driving include:

  • A minimum of a 1-year driving ban
  • An unlimited fine
  • Up to 6 months in prison

A conviction for drug-driving will show on your licence for 11 years. If you’re facing a drug-driving charge, contact our specialist lawyers for advice. For example, if it can be proven you’ve been prescribed certain drugs and have followed medical advice on how to take them, or you can prove that you are not unfit to drive even if you’re above the specified level, you may have a valid defence.

Using a mobile phone when driving

Since 2003, it’s been illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. This includes touching the device while the engine is running. Despite that, drivers texting or making calls at the wheel without using their hands-free facility is still a common sight on UK roads. Strict new laws were introduced in 2017 in an effort to deter drivers from committing this offence, including the fixed penalty being doubled to £200. Other possible consequences include:

  • A fine of up to £1000 or £2,500 if you’re driving a bus or lorry
  • 6 points on your licence (this was previously 3)

There is now no option to take a Driver Awareness Course to reduce licence points for driving while using a mobile phone. Indeed , the new tighter laws mean that technically, using a mobile phone to pay for a purchase at a drive-thru is illegal, with only emergency calls to 999 or 112 when it is unsafe to stop being permissible. However, at Purcell Parker we can assess whether you have a reasonable defence. For example, this may be the case if it can be proven that you were not driving or not using your phone at the time the police allege you were. In cases where you do not have a defence, a statement of mitigation may reduce the severity of your punishment.

Careless driving and dangerous driving

Also known as ‘driving without due care and attention’, careless driving covers motoring offences like undertaking, lane hogging and tailgating. Careless driving is deemed less serious when other drivers are not unduly inconvenienced or endangered. More serious examples could involve pulling out of a junction and forcing another vehicle to brake or making another car swerve by taking the wrong lane on a roundabout. Dangerous driving is an ‘either way’ offence, meaning that depending on the severity of the case, it can be heard in either a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown Court. Drink-driving and using a mobile phone at the wheel often fall under the category of dangerous driving.

Careless driving

Penalties include:

  • A Fixed Penalty Notice with a possible option for a Driver Education Course
  • Between 3 and 9 points on your licence
  • A discretionary driving ban
  • A fine of up to £5000

Dangerous driving

Possible consequences are:

  • Between 3 and 11 points on your licence
  • Up to 2 years’ disqualification
  • An unlimited fine
  • A prison sentence

If you are facing a careless driving or dangerous driving charge, contact us for advice. You may have a case to prove that you were not driving in a way that fell short of what could be expected of a careful and competent driver.

Driving without a licence, insurance, MOT or road tax

Insurance

If you are caught driving without insurance you can expect a Fixed Penalty Notice involving a fine of £300 and 6 points on your licence. If this goes unpaid and the case goes to court, you could face an increased fine and a driving ban.

MOT

All cars over 3 years old require an MOT and driving without one not only invalidates your insurance, it has the following consequences:

  • A fine of up to £1000
  • If your vehicle is judged unroadworthy, a fine of £2,500 and 3 points per fault
  • If you already have points on your licence and your vehicle is unroadworthy, you could face a driving ban

Road tax

Since paper tax discs were replaced by the DVLA database in 2014, the number of motorists driving without road tax has trebled. This is thought to be due in part to the fact that the lack of a visual reminder means it’s easy to forget to renew vehicle tax. However it’s very easy to check if road tax needs to be paid at https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax. If the system flags up your car as untaxed and it’s not declared with a Statutory Off-Road Notification (SORN), you will be issued with an on-the-spot fine of £80. This is reduced to £40 if you pay within 28 days. However, if the fine goes unpaid and the matter goes to court you could face fines of up to £1000 plus costs.

Driving without a licence

Driving without a licence includes driving underage, driving unsupervised with a provisional licence or driving when disqualified. Fines of up to £1000, 6 points on your licence and a ban are possible; with those who are caught driving while disqualified facing harsher consequences including possible imprisonment.

Driving without an appropriate child restraint

New laws came into force in 2017 regarding children’s car seats. Research showed that 88% of parents were confused by the changes, mainly due to the fact that they only related to new products and didn’t apply to certain situations or vehicles. All children under 12 or 135cm (whichever they reach first) must use a child seat. To find out exactly which one is appropriate and to avoid a fine of up to £500 visit https://www.gov.uk/child-car-seats-the-rules.

Expert motoring solicitors on your side

For specialist advice on any motoring offence, contact Purcell Parker on 0121 236 9781 or email info@purcellparker.co.uk. We offer a free initial consultation and our private fees for motoring matters are as follows:

Plea and sentence hearing – £595 plus VAT

Additional hearings (e.g. sentence) – £395 plus VAT

Half day trial – £1,500 plus VAT

Full day trial – £2,000 plus VAT