Driving offences under England and Wales legislation
According to Ministry of Justice statistics (available here), the most common driving offences in England and Wales in 2006 were vehicle insurance offences (430,115), driving licence related offences (337,193), vehicle test offences (207,549), speed limit offences (180,630) and vehicle registration and excise licence offences (139,557). Not only are these figures startling, but the offences they quantify are easily avoidable if certain steps are followed, and their punishments relatively harsh. The following breakdowns of each offence and information of associated penalty is designed to illustrate what exactly is at stake if you choose to ignore this legislation.
Vehicle insurance offences
This is an umbrella term for driving without third party insurance, or causing or permitting another to do the same. These offences can be committed intentionally or otherwise, and carry a 6-8 point penalty along with the possibility of disqualification.
Driving licence related offences
The most common of these is driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence and applies were persons either drive without having passed a test of competence, drive whilst their entitlement to drive has been revoked or drive outside the terms of their licence e.g. a provisional licence holder driving without appropriate supervision or a person driving a class of vehicle which they are not licensed to drive. The Penalty for the offence is 3-6 penalty points or the possibility of disqualification, unless the person held a licence and their entitlement had been revoked, in which case the penalty is limited to a fine.
Vehicle test offences
This offence is committed if a person drives without an MOT being in force for a vehicle. The offence is one of the least serious despite the serious connotations which may follow from driving a vehicle which is not roadworthy and attracts only a fine, without the possibility of points or disqualification.
Speed limit offences
Speeding is an offence for which it is increasingly easy to be caught. This is because of the range of automated equipment available to the police (Gatso cameras, average speed cameras (SPECS), mobile and in-car devices, and time devices like VASCAR). Speeding presents a greater threat to human life than some of the other offences mentioned here, and is not an offence to be taken lightly. As a result, penalties include up to £2,500 fine, 3-6 penalty points and the possibility of 7-56 days disqualification (the length of disqualification is not limited and for very high speeds can be significantly longer e.g. 12 months) depending on the perceived severity of the offence.
Vehicle registration and excise licence offences
The penalty for not having a vehicle excise licence or more commonly called “road tax” is limited to a fine, there being no possibility of penalty points.
Similarly failing to drive a vehicle which is not registered with the DVLA or which bears a number plate which does not comply with the appropriate standards (including letter size, spacing, background and colour) attracts a financial penalty.
Information provided by Caddick Davies motoring solicitors