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How much could you be fined for these common driving offences?

There’s plenty of confusion when it comes to driving offences.

Did you know it’s an offence to splash a pedestrian while driving? Or to warn another driver about a speed trap?

Many UK drivers get fines for motoring offences they didn’t even know existed. Use our calculator to see how much you could be fined.

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It’s worth noting that not all of these are offences in their own right but are contributing factors under offences such as ‘driving without due care and attention’. This usually happens if you’re stopped by the police or are involved in an accident.

For more information on how these offences work we’ve looked at common driving law confusions in a bit more detail.

Driving offences explained

Here’s a list of driving offences that are surprisingly common yet not always well understood:

Driving too slowly - If the police stop you for driving too slowly, you might just get a verbal warning. But you could be charged for driving without reasonable consideration for other road users. This offence carries a maximum £5,000 fine and up to 9 points on your licence.

Flashing another driver to warn of a speed trap - Doing this could get you a £1,000 fine under 'obstructing an officer in the course of their duties'. Speed cameras are there to catch drivers breaking the speed limit, so flashing another driver to warn of a speed trap is something the police want to deter.

Splashing a pedestrian - Splashing a pedestrian is an offence even if you do it by accident. You could get a fine of £5,000 if you're prosecuted for driving without due car and attention.

Hogging the middle lane of a motorway - Unless you’re overtaking, you’re meant to drive in the left lane on the motorway. Hogging the middle lane could get you a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) with a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence. But there’s a chance you could even be charged with careless driving. This could land you with an unlimited fine and up to 9 points on driving licence

Tailgating - Tailgating is when someone drives too close to the car in front of them. Police can give you an FPN for tailgating, landing you with a £100 fine and 3 points on licence. But you could be charged with careless driving, with the possibility of an unlimited fine and up to 9 penalty points.

What's the difference between a major driving offence and a minor one?

Minor driving offences - These driving offences don't usually involve the courts as the police can issue an FPN. For example, you could get an FPN for a minor speeding offence. The minimum fine for speeding is £100, with 3 penalty points added to your license.

Major driving offences - These include driving offences such as dangerous driving and drink driving, which can land you with a driving ban, an unlimited fine and time in jail. When setting fines, judges can take into account your income and financial circumstances – the higher your income, the bigger the fine.

What are the most common driving offences?

Our data on the top motoring convictions shows that some motoring offences are especially common:

Speeding - Speeding is by far the most common driving offence. The police tend to issue FPNs for most speeding offences but they might give you the option to attend a speed awareness course. If you complete the course, you don't get a fine or points on your licence.

You can choose to dispute an FPN by pleading not guilty but that means going to court. And if you’re found guilty, you could be fined far more than the usual £100 and get more than the standard 3 points added to your licence. If you do go to court, a judge could fine you up to £1,000 for speeding on a standard road or up to £2,000 for speeding on a motorway.

Driving through a red light - Police usually deal with the offence of failing to stop for a red light with an FPN – it’s a £100 fine and 3 points on licence if you plead guilty. As with FPNs for speeding offences, you can challenge it but that means going to court. If you’re found guilty, you risk paying a bigger fine and having more points added to your licence.

Using a mobile phone or other device - You can get an FPN with a £200 fine and 6 points on your driving licence for holding and using a device to send or receive data while driving. That includes using a phone, sat nav or tablet. If it goes to court, you could get a £1,000 fine and a driving ban. As the driver, you’re not meant to hold or use a device like your phone even if you’ve stopped at traffic lights or are queuing in traffic.

Illegal parking - You usually don’t get points on your licence for illegal parking – but you could get a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence if you get an FPN for leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position. This includes parking in the middle of the road. If you're caught parking on double yellow lines, expect a fine of £50-80.

Moving traffic offence - These can include things like driving down a one-way street or driving in a bus lane. If you’re caught driving down a one-way street, the police could hand you an FPN with a £100 fine and 3 points on your licence. Fines for driving in bus lanes can vary as they’re often levied by councils, but a fine of around £90 is typical.

Driving under the influence of alcohol - Drink-driving is one of the more serious driving offences. You could go to prison for 6 months, and get an unlimited fine with a minimum 12-month driving ban. Finding car insurance with a drink-driving conviction can also be challenging.

Are driving offences criminal or civil?

Driving offences are criminal offences, but you only risk a driving conviction if it goes to court. 

For example, if you’re caught speeding, the police could choose to give you an FPN with a £100 fine and 3 penalty points added to your licence. If you pay the fine, admitting your guilt, you’ll avoid having to go to court where you risk being convicted of a criminal offence.

If a court finds you guilty, it also means you could get a bigger fine and more penalty points added to your licence. You can use driving conviction codes to get more detail on various driving offences.

A Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) can be issued by councils for things like driving down a bus lane or unauthorised parking. PCNs are civil so aren’t backed by the threat of criminal prosecution.

How long do I get to pay driving fines?

You should read any notifications you get through the post carefully as missing a payment deadline could end up costing you more. 

For example, if you’re caught speeding by a camera the police must send you a Notification of Intended Prosecution (NIP) within 14 days of the offence. If you get a NIP, you have 28 days to respond. The form is used to confirm your identity and establish whether you were driving the car at the time of the offence. It’s important to respond to an NIP but you might want to get legal advice.

The police then have 6 months to issue you with an FPN. Plead guilty to the offence on the FPN and it's a minimum fine of £100 and 3 points on your licence. But the police often give you the option of attending a speed awareness course instead, so you could avoid the fine and the penalty points. You get 28 days to pay a fine on an FPN. Failing to pay within the time limit means additional charges and even court fees could be added.


What are driving offences?

You’ve committed a driving offence if you break the law while driving. There are a wide range of driving offences, from speeding to driving without an MOT, but broadly they can fall in to one of two categories, dangerous driving and careless or inconsiderate driving.

How is careless driving different from dangerous driving?

Dangerous driving is the more serious of the 2 offences and is described by the police as 'driving that falls far below the minimum expected of a competent and careful driver'. Examples include:

  • Drink-driving
  • Aggressive driving
  • Deliberately ignoring road signs and traffic lights
  • Any intentional lawbreaking while driving

Careless driving is more for lapses of judgement, including:

  • Tailgating
  • Slow driving
  • Accidentally driving through a red light

What’s a penalty point?

Penalty points can be added to your licence if you’re convicted of a driving offence or if you admit to a driving offence through an FPN. Penalty points stay on your driving record for 4 to 11 years, depending on the motoring offence.

Many driving offences land you with 3 penalty points but some can add as many as 11 points to your licence depending on the severity of your offence. You get a driving ban if you build up more than 12 penalty points within 3 years.

What’s the difference between an FPN and PCN?

An FPN is backed by the threat of criminal prosecution, so if you don’t pay the penalty and accept the penalty points that come with it, you’ll have to plead your case in a magistrates court.

A PCN is a civil matter, mainly issued by councils for parking violations, so it doesn't involve the criminal courts.

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