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Driving Offense Punishments

Driving Offense Punishments

There are a number of crimes related to driving in the UK, with some more serious than others. Different punishments apply depending on the offense as well as its nature and whether it is a minor infraction of the law or a more serious one.


Drink driving is an issue that has got more and more coverage in the media, and is being cracked down more than ever. The legal drink driving limit in the UK is 35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath. Being caught drink driving, or driving under the influence of drug (including some prescription drugs) could lead to up to six month imprisonment and a fine of anything up to £5,000. In most cases this will include a driving ban of between one and three years. Refusing to co-operate if stopped by police is also an offence and can carry the same punishment. By law, anyone who is asked by police must agree to a breath test, and failure to do so is illegal.

If a death has been caused by someone driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, then the potential punishment is more severe. There could be a jail sentence of up to 14 years and an unlimited fine. At least a two year driving ban will be given, but this could be much longer depending on the nature of the offence.


The seriousness of speeding depends on a variety of factors, such as the area where the offense is committed, prior driving offenses, and how far over the speed limit you are. Minor offenses will result in a £60 fine and 3 penalty points. Driving around 10 miles per hour over the speed limit will usually result in this, although it does depend. More serious speeding offenses could carry a fine of £1,000, or £2,500 on a motorway. These could mean 6 penalty points, although a very serious offense could mean a driving ban.

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Many offenses could come under the heading of dangerous driving. This could be excessive speed, or driving without due care in other ways. Dangerous driving will lead to a court case, and if found guilt will mean a ban of at least a year. On top of this there will be either a fine, community service or in more serious cases, a prison sentence.


Driving without the correct insurance or without a license are considered serious offenses.

Driving without insurance carries a 6 to 8 point penalty is most cases, but can lead to a driving ban, and a fine of up to £5,000. If someone is not insured on the specific car they are driving, but have insurance for their car, the offense is still considered as serious as not having any insurance. Letting an uninsured driver drive your car is also illegal.

Driving without a licence will incur a penalty of between 3 and 6 penalty points, which will be added if the person in question ever gets a driving licence. This would mean an immediate ban, and then having to re-take a driving test once the ban is over.


These offenses are less serious, but will still result in a fine if caught. Being caught driving without an MOT will mean a fine of less than £100, and your licence may be revoked until you have had the MOT completed. This is to prevent you from continuing to drive without the MOT. Driving without a valid tax disk will result in an £80 fine, and a warning to renew the road tax.

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There are other driving offenses as well, including driving without a seatbelt, having lights that are broken or not working, or driving where not permitted (e.g. wrong way down a one-way system). This will usually just mean an on the spot fine and a warning of future conduct.

Offenses that can lead to serious accidents are treated most seriously, while there is some leniency to those that could only cause minor problems. Drink driving and dangerous driving are most likely to cause serious accidents so are punished more severely. Speeding is dealt with according to the offense. It is easy to drive a few miles per hour over the limit without realising it and it is unlikely to make the situation much more dangerous. Driving an excessive speed could cause a very serious accident so are punished accordingly. Someone driving without insurance is deemed more of an infraction of the law than someone driving without an up to date MOT or road tax. Causing injury to someone or damaging someone’s property or vehicle without insurance will mean you are not covered for damage that could cost a vast amount. It would, however, be easy to forget to update an MOT or road tax, and it would not cause an accident (unless an MOT is way over due) so the punishments are not so severe.

Andrew Marshall ©