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Tips and advice

Driving licence penalty points explained

You could receive penalty points on your licence if you break the law when driving. Here’s all you need to know

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If you’re caught breaking traffic laws on the road in the UK, it’s likely you’ll end up receiving penalty points on your driving licence. They’ll often be accompanied by a fixed penalty notice or, if the offence is severe enough, a prosecution.

Racking up enough points in a period of time brings further consequences, potentially leading to disqualification from driving. The rules are even stricter for drivers who only passed their driving test within the last two years, so it's always worth being aware of how many points are on your licence at a given time.

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Fortunately, penalty points aren’t permanent. Depending on the offence, points will remain on your licence for up to 11 years, after which they will be removed. Of course, all drivers should aim to keep a clean driving record, but with the growing number of speed cameras across the country, it's not uncommon for many drivers to be caught speeding at some point.

Motorists who are caught with a ‘Band A’ speeding offence may be given the opportunity to attend a speed awareness course instead of prosecution, thereby avoiding three penalty points on their licence.

UK Driving licence

Our guide covers everything you need to know about licence penalty points, from which offences result in points, to how long they last and where to find out how many you have.

What do you get points on your licence for in the UK?

There are various motoring offences that can land you with penalty points on your licence. Each offence carries its own penalty guidelines with a minimum number of penalty points. You can visit the government website for more information on each offence, its code and the number of penalty points it carries. Here are a few examples of the most common driving offences:

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  • Speeding: three to six points
  • Failing to comply with traffic signals and signs: three points
  • Driving under the influence of drink or drugs: three to 11 points
  • Dangerous driving: three to 11 points
  • Using a vehicle with defective tyres: three points
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Depending on the severity of the offence, some points will remain on your licence longer than others. To find out how long the points will remain on your licence, you will need to view your driving licence information online – this is explained below.

Where are penalty points shown on my driving licence?

In the past, driving licence penalty points were recorded on the paper part of your licence.

Today, new and renewed UK driving licences are issued without the paper counterpart. All motorists with a photocard driving licence can view their driving licence record online at any time; this is where any penalty points are shown.

How do I find out how many points I have on my driving licence?

To view your driving licence information, including the number of penalty points, go to the driving licence section of the government website. To access it you’ll need the following personal details:

  • Your driving licence number
  • Your National Insurance number
  • The postcode on your driving licence

Follow the on-screen steps to see your up-to-date driving licence information, including any penalty points currently on your licence and the time remaining until they expire. You are also given the option to share your licence information with others by creating a licence check code. This will allow anyone with the code to view your licence details for 21 days.

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Those who hold a driving licence issued in Northern Ireland must visit the NI Direct site because the processes and endorsement codes are different.

How many points lead to a driving ban?

Depending on the severity of the motoring offence, penalty points can stay on your driving record for four to 11 years.

Collecting 12 or more penalty points within a three-year period can result in disqualification from driving. The ban can last for various amounts of time:

  • Six months, if you are issued 12 or more penalty points within three years
  • 12 months, if you get a second disqualification within a three-year period
  • Two years, if you get a third disqualification within a three-year period

If you are disqualified from driving for 56 days or more, you must apply for a new licence before driving again. The courts will decide if you must retake your driving test or take an extended driving test before receiving your full licence again.

If you’re disqualified from driving for less than 56 days, you can’t drive until the disqualification has ended and you must check your driving licence record online for confirmation that the period is complete.

In the UK, ‘mutual recognition of disqualification’ means that if you’re banned from driving with a licence from Great Britain, you can’t drive in the Isle of Man or Northern Ireland either. The same rules apply for disqualified drivers from NI and the Isle of Man driving in the rest of Great Britain.

New drivers who collect six or more penalty points within the two-year period after passing their test can have their driving licences revoked. If this happens, the driver will have to apply and pay for a new provisional driving licence, then pass both the theory and practical driving tests again before they can get their licence back.

How do I remove points from my UK driving licence?

Penalty points will only be removed once the period is over. This process happens automatically.

Read our guide to black box car insurance to find out if you can save money on your next premium…

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