Different Driving Offences and Their Punishments

Driving offences are among the most common reasons for which people are apprehended by the police. With 19.2 thousand vehicles per mile per day on urban “A” roads alone, the likelihood of a number of their drivers breaking the law is very high. If you are a driver yourself, it is vital to fully understand the UK’s driving laws and to make yourself aware of the repercussions you may face should you break one.

Some vehicular transgressions are considered minor offences, punishable by cautions or on the spot fines. Others are considered major offences, and those accused of them are likely to be taken to court and may face lengthy prison sentences. Both types of offence may see points added to your licence.

Here, the legal experts at DPP Law explain some of the most common driving offences, the punishments that may result from them, and the reasons why it is so important to abide by these specific driving laws.

Careless Driving

You are required to maintain due care and attention throughout your time behind the wheel and if you are caught failing to do so, you may face punishments of varying severities depending on the seriousness of your offence. Instances of careless driving may include:

  • Driving while distracted, whether it be by the radio, your phone, spilled food or something else
  • Driving too slowly
  • Tailgating
  • Failing to stop at a red light
  • Repeated unnecessarily braking
  • Turning or cutting into another vehicle’s path without warning
  • “Undertaking” or other misuses of lane systems
  • Failing to dip headlights at the right time
  • Intimidating other drivers into giving way to you
  • Sitting in the overtaking lane when not overtaking

There are a variety of punishments you may receive as a result of careless driving offences. At the minimum, you may expect an on the spot roadside fine of £100 and three points added to your licence. However, if your behaviours are considered to constitute major offences – for example, in the worst-case scenario you may cause a serious or fatal crash as a result of your careless driving – you could face up to 14 years in prison and a mandatory two-year driving ban once released.

Driving Without Insurance

It is vital to keep your vehicular insurance up to date. It doesn’t matter whether the vehicle you are driving is insured under someone else’s name – unless your name is on the relevant documents, they are considered null and void. You must have at least third-party insurance on your vehicle at all times. Letting this lapse for even one day is considered a criminal offence.

Third-party insurance is vital, as, should you be involved in an accident, it will provide all named drivers and vehicle passengers with cover for any injury caused to other people, and any damage done to their property.

The police have very sophisticated ways in which they can catch people committing these kinds of driving offences. Should you drive past an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) camera without the correct insurance, you will be easy to track down.

Driving without insurance is often one of the more minor offences for which people may be punished – as many times it occurs accidentally. However, those caught offending in this way may still face an unlimited fine and between 6 and 8 points on their licence. Furthermore, depending on the perceived severity of the case, the police may choose to impose a discretionary driving disqualification.

A connected offence is that of driving with your number plate obscured, as it’s important for police cameras to be able to recognise your vehicle at all times. For these kinds of driving offences, punishments range from £50 on the spot fines to £1,000 court-ordered penalties.

Drink Driving

Around 85,000 people are convicted of offences related to drink-driving every year in England and Wales. If you are stopped on suspicion of drink driving, you will be considered to be over the legal limit if you are found to have:

  • 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath (22 micrograms in Scotland)
  • 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (50 micrograms in Scotland)
  • 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of urine (67 micrograms in Scotland)

Many people are not aware that there are also drug driving limits. These include:

  • 50 micrograms of cocaine in 1 litre of blood
  • 2 micrograms of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (the active ingredient in cannabis) in 1 litre of blood
  • 20 micrograms of ketamine in 1 litre of blood
  • 1 microgram of LSD in 1 litre of blood
  • 10 micrograms of methylamphetamine in 1 litre of blood
  • 10 micrograms of MDMA in 1 litre of blood
  • 5 micrograms of heroin in 1 litre of blood

If a police officer suspects you of drink driving, you will be pulled over and may be asked to undertake a breathalyser test. This requires you to blow into a device designed to measure the amount of alcohol present in your breath. If you refuse to do so, you will be arrested and taken to your local police station. You will then be required by law to provide an “evidential specimen” for analysis. This may take the form of a blood or urine test.

Drug driving is usually tested for with the use of a swab, which may be performed at the roadside or at a police station.

If you are prosecuted for either of these driving offences, punishments include an unlimited fine and/ or a mandatory driving disqualification (the minimum being 12 months, but there is the potential for a driving ban of at least three years if you are caught behind the wheel under the influence of drink or drugs for the second time in ten years).

You may also be jailed for up to six months.

However, the more major offences connected to drink and drug driving include causing death or serious injury while under the influence and in charge of a vehicle. For these driving offences, punishments can stretch to 14 years behind bars and an obligatory driving ban of two years or more.

As a driver, it is vital that you make yourself aware of the vehicular laws of the UK and the possible punishments you may face if you break them. Should you find yourself accused of a driving offence, you should make contact with an experienced solicitor as soon as possible. The legal experts at DPP Law have over 30 years of experience in successfully representing clients accused of a wide range of vehicular offences.

Careless driving can often be considered a minor offence, but if it leads to death or injury, the alleged perpetrator may face a very lengthy jail term. Your legal representative may be able to collect and provide evidence – including CCTV footage – to prove that any collision was not your fault and that you were not breaking the law.

Driving without insurance may see you slapped with a hefty fine, points on your licence and a potential driving ban. Your lawyer may either be able to prove that you were in fact insured or that an insured individual was driving the car at the time. Otherwise, they may be able to persuade the courts to commute your punishment to a lesser one.

The worst cases of drink or drug driving – causing serious injury or fatalities – may lead to a jail term of up to 14 years. A good solicitor may use a number of arguments to see you charged with a lesser crime – for example, they may prove that the collision was not your fault and would not have been avoidable whether you were under the influence or not.

If you have been accused of a driving offence, contact DPP Law urgently today on 0333 200 5859.