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Common driving offences and penalties

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 1 year ago

3 min read

  • Advice
  • tips

WhoCanFixMyCar discusses driving offences in the UK, which range from commonplace speeding to more serious crimes like drink driving

Are you familiar with the laws around driving? If not, you're in the right place. This guide covers everything you need to know about driving offences, including the penalties that they can incur.


What are motoring offences?

What driving offences are there?

What is the most serious driving offence?

Most common UK motoring offences

Driving offences and penalties

What are motoring offences?

Driving offences are a lot more common than you might think, and they can sometimes affect unsuspecting citizens who aren’t aware of the law. 

Some offences are so serious that they could land you with a prison sentence - for example, driving under the influence of alcohol - while others, such as driving without an MOT, are more likely to result in a fine. 

If you're not sure when your MOT is due, you can use our free tool to check here.

Ultimately, a driving offence is an act which breaks the law.

What driving offences are there?

Driving or vehicle related offences can be grouped into two categories: major and minor offences. 

Dangerous driving

Some examples of dangerous driving include:

  • Overtaking in a dangerous manner

  • Driving under the influence of drink or drugs

  • The driver being distracted, for example by reading a map or talking to a passenger

  • Ignoring traffic lights and road signs

Careless or inconsiderate driving

Driving without paying proper care and attention is also punishable under the law. Some examples include:

  • Dazzling drivers with un-dipped headlights

  • Overtaking on the inside

  • Driving too close to another vehicle

  • Unnecessarily staying in an overtaking lane

Using a mobile phone

While using a mobile phone can be classed as dangerous driving, it is a specific offence in and of itself. If caught, you will receive penalty points and a fine; however, anyone who has passed their test in the last two years could have their licence revoked. 


It’ll come as no surprise that breaking the speed limit is against the law; this is one of the most common driving offences. 

Low-level speeding counts as a minor offence and usually results in a fixed penalty notice. 

Failure to provide identification

The keeper of the vehicle commits an offence if he or she fails to provide identification for the driver at the time of the offence. However, in the UK, it is not a requirement to carry your licence with you - if a police officer requests to see it, you have seven days to produce it at a specified police station. 

Document offences

These include driving a vehicle of a class for which you do not hold a licence; driving without valid insurance; and driving without a valid MOT.

Failure to provide a specimen

Failure to provide a specimen during a breathalyser test at the roadside or at the police station if you’re suspected of drug or drink driving is also an offence. 

What is the most serious driving offence?

Dangerous driving is the most serious offence a motorist can be penalised for, particularly when it results in the death of a person. The penalty is one to fourteen years in prison and disqualification from driving for at least two years.

Most common UK motoring offences

The two most common UK motoring offences are speeding and driving without insurance.

When it comes to speeding, the punishment will vary depending on the severity of the offence - namely, how much the speed limit was exceeded by. Most of the time a fine is issued along with points on the driver’s licence, but some will face instant disqualification.

It is estimated that around two million people drive without the correct insurance every year in the UK. Of these drivers, around 300,000 are actually caught - but police checks are becoming ever more prevalent. 

Driving offences and penalties

Depending on the severity of the offence and the circumstances in which it occurred, different penalties may be given. 

Speeding penalties

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three points on your licence. 

If you build up twelve or more penalty points within three years, you could be disqualified from driving. 

Drink driving penalties

Being in charge of a vehicle while over the drink driving limit could result in:

  • Three months in prison

  • Up to £2,500 fine

  • A possible driving ban

On the other hand, attempting to drive while over the limit could be penalised by:

  • Six months in prison

  • Unlimited fine

  • Ban from driving for at least one year

Causing death while driving over the limit is, as you would expect, punished more severely:

  • Fourteen years in prison

  • Unlimited fine

  • Driving ban for at least two years

  • Extended driving test before your licence is returned

MOTs determine whether vehicles are safe to drive, which is why it's a yearly requirement to have one; driving without an MOT is illegal. If you think there's something wrong with your car, WhoCanFixMyCar can help you find a reliable local garage that will fix the problem and prevent you from failing your MOT in the future.

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