Common driving offences, their fines and penalty points

Breaking the rules of the road—from a drink driving ban to receiving a fine for an expired MOT

We’re not always aware of the total repercussions we could face from breaking driving laws. We all know that there are fines for breaking the rules, and often they’ll come hand-in-hand with a handful of penalty points. But how many? And what can (and can’t) you get them for?

We’re going to take a look at the most common traffic offences, the fines that are likely to be imposed, and which of them will lead to automatic penalty points and disqualifications.


Speeding is the number one offence of the British driver. It’s hardly a surprise given it’s possibly the most policed offence on the roads. You don’t have to drive far to see a police speed-check van parked up on a bridge or in a layby, or a mounted camera fixed over the motorway.

Speeding carries a minimum of 3 penalty points and a fine. The minimum fine is £100, but for the worst offenders, they could receive fines up to 175% of their weekly income for the most dangerous breaches.

Apart from the tally of penalty points adding towards a driving ban—12 points in any 3 years earns an automatic 6-month ban—there are occasions where a driving ban will be delivered.

Drink (and drug) driving

The legal alcohol limit stands at 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. In Scotland, it’s only 50 milligrams. Understanding how many drinks it would take to achieve that limit given the result is dependent on age, weight, sex and metabolism, makes it almost impossible to guess.

Drink drivers face an automatic ban for those over the limit. Depending on the outcome, it could also mean a prison sentence. Lesser penalties of between 6 and 11 points are available in appropriate cases.

Drug driving tests are readily available, so those caught with specific levels of illegal drugs in their bloodstream are eligible for unlimited fines, a minimum 1-year ban and up to 6 months in prison.

Dangerous driving

Driving without due care and attention carries both penalty points and fines. Depending on the severity of the case, you could be liable for automatic disqualification or a prison sentence where the outcome demands the most serious measures.

Dangerous driving covers the most seemingly innocent offences such as failing to stop at a red light to pedestrian or vehicle collisions that result in physical harm or death.

Holding a mobile phone while driving

Even if you’ve pulled up at the lights or stuck in a traffic jam, it’s illegal to hold your mobile phone while driving your car.

You will receive 6 penalty points and a £200 in England and Wales. The Scottish are a little more lenient with a 3-point penalty and a £60 fine.

Eating behind the steering wheel could lead to the same fines and prosecutions, as would applying make-up. Any minor distraction can lead to a lack of concentration with drastic consequences. That’s why these laws are so relevant.

Driving without insurance

There are over 2million drivers in the UK that don’t have the required insurance to drive their car. Only around 300k of these law-breakers are caught in police spot-checks and appropriately fined.

Driving without insurance was the second most common offence in 2018. However, it is seen as one of the most serious driving offences. It’s common that drivers are banned or allocated up to 8 penalty points on their licence.

If you’re involved in an accident, and your car doesn’t hold a valid MOT certificate, in many cases your insurance will be invalid. So not only will you be hit with the no MOT fine, but you’ll also be prosecuted for driving without valid insurance too!

Fines can climb to £5,000, yet that isn’t the only price offenders will pay. Future insurance premiums will be loaded substantially.

Driving without a registration and road tax

Driving an unregistered vehicle or a vehicle with no road tax could mean having your car clamped and towed. There’s an automatic fine of £80 for any vehicles that aren’t taxed or registered SORN, and failing to notify the DVLA of a change of owners could lead to a maximum penalty of £1,000.

Other ways to breach the registration rules occur when a number plate isn’t adequately visible. Even when the act is unintentional, you may still be imposed with a fine—so keep your number plates clean, in good condition, and make sure the numbers and letters conform to legal sizes.

Another regular failure occurs when drivers fail to display their registration while towing a trailer or a caravan. Don’t let such a simple oversight result in such a hefty fine!

Driving without an MOT

As you’d expect, given that vehicle safety is governed at source, the fine for no MOT is high. The minimum MOT fine is £1,000. However, if you’re found driving an MOT failed vehicle, associated penalties for driving a dangerous vehicle can reach up to £2,500—or even imprisonment.

What’s the penalty for driving with no MOT? You’ll be awarded both fine and a penalty for having no MOT. For driving a car in a dangerous condition, the allocation is 3 penalty points.

Again, this can lead to more severe punishment through associated offences, so it’s not as simple as asking “What is the fine for having no MOT?” If the fines and penalties for not carrying a valid certificate aren’t enough of a deterrent, what it could lead to should be more than enough to keep drivers in check.

Failing to stop for an accident/reporting an accident

Any driver who causes an accident and fails to stop, or report the incident if the other vehicle’s owner isn’t present, can be fined up to £2,500. The act also carries between 5 and 10 penalty points.

Failing to stop can also result in an automatic ban—even when the issue seems far from serious.

Typical penalty point convictions

  • Continuing to drive when disqualified – 6 points
  • Failing to hold correct car insurance – 6 to 8 points
  • Driving after being refused a licence or having a licence revoked – 3 to 6 points
  • Careless driving – 3 to 9 points
  • Failing to stop after an accident – 5 to 10 points
  • Failing to report and accident – 5 to 10 points
  • Using a handheld mobile phone – 6 points
  • Speeding – 3 to 6 points or a ban
  • Failing to have full control of the vehicle – 3 points