Most of us don’t give much thought to getting penalty points on our driving licence – just don’t break the rules and you’ll be fine, right? But what exactly are the rules, and what are the consequences for falling foul?
Here are 10 mistakes you can make as a licence-holder that can cost you points, money, and sometimes even more. Some are more obvious and serious, and others are silly mistakes that are easily made if you aren’t in the right frame of mind.
Before we start, it’s worth noting that if you are new driver and obtain 6 points for any of the following within 2 years of passing your practical exam, you’ll have your licence revoked and have to re-apply for a provisional licence, retake your theory test, and retake your practical test.
- Speeding – 3 points + £100 fine. The most obvious and the most common. Get caught breaking the speed limit and you’ll face a fine of £100 and 3 points on your licence. If you dispute an alleged offence and are found to have been in the wrong, you’ll receive 6 points and a fine of up to £1000. Always check the signs for the speed limit wherever you are driving. Statistics show that motorists have been speeding less in recent years – despite this reports show that a staggering 80% of people regularly go over the limit in 20mph zones.
- Using a mobile phone whilst driving – 3 points + £100 fine. Even simply holding your phone without using it whilst you are driving at the wheel is grounds to be given 3 points on your licence and a £100. If you’re using your phone as a Sat Nav, it must be in a fixed position (in a holder) on your dashboard or windscreen. Interestingly, this means that you can’t legally use your phone to pay for food at drive-thru restaurants (using Apply Pay etc.) Make sure your phone is not a distraction – put it on silent and don’t be tempted to pick it up for any reason. If your phone-use causes a fatal accident you’re almost sure to serve jail time.
- Not being in control of the vehicle – 3 points + £100 fine. Anytime you are distracted and don’t have full control of your vehicle, you are committing an offence. There are a multitude of ways in which you might be distracted whilst driving – eating, drinking, checking your makeup. Any time you don’t have a proper grip of your steering wheel and/or take your attention from the road, you are liable to be fined £100 and will receive 3 points on your licence.
- Driving through a red light – 3 points + £100 fine. We’re all tempted to floor the accelerator once a light turns amber but failing to make the light before it turns red has some serious consequences. You’ll get 3 points on your licence and a further £100 fine for risking causing a serious accident.
- No MOT – £1000 fine. Despite not carrying a points penalty, if you are caught without a valid MOT for your vehicle then you will face a £1000 fine. It’s easy to forget, but any vehicle over three years needs a yearly MOT pass certificate, and not having a valid one is an offence.
- Failing to stop at a pedestrian crossing – 3 points + fine of up to £1000. Always be aware of crossings coming up ahead – especially Zebra crossings which do not have any traffic lights. Slow down if you think someone may be about to cross – always better to be safe than sorry.
- Defective tyres – 3 points for each tyre + £2500 fine. When studying for your theory exam you’re sure to be clued up on the fact that your tyres need to be inflated properly and that you need to regularly check the tread to make sure it is above the legal minimum of 1.6mm. But after we pass it’s easy to forget that checking your tyres isn’t merely a recommendation, but a legal obligation for which the failure to do so carries a rather serious £2500 fine and 3 points per tyre that falls foul.
- Dangerous overtaking – 3 to 9 points + fine of up to £2500. Considered as driving without due care and attention, you could be in for a staggering 3-9 points on your licence alongside a fine of up to £2500 – far more than the penalties for speeding. Make sure there is plenty of space to manoeuvre when overtaking – giving yourself time to get back onto the correct side of the road without breaking the speed limit.
- Driving without insurance – 6 to 8 points + fine of up to £5000. With the cost of the best car insurance policies skyrocketing in recent years it’s tempting to put off getting insurance, but simply put: don’t. Alongside a fine of up to £5000 and 6-8 points on your licence, you could be banned indefinitely, or forced to retake both your theory and practical tests at the very least.
- Failing to stop after an accident – 5 to 10 points + fine of upto £5000. You must stop if you have been involved in an accident – no matter how small you think it is or if nobody has been hurt. In the event of an injury then you will need to supply your details and report the incident to the police. Failure to do so carries a penalty of 5-10 points on your licence, a fine of up to £5000, and also an outright ban from driving.