Driving Offences: The Definitive Guide

James Rodriguez James Rodriguez updated on July 24, 2020

If you've committed a driving offence, you're already feeling raw.

And now you find out your insurance premium is going to go up, as well. That doesn't make you feel any better, does it?

Fortunately you can still get insured, even with points on your licence. And if you shop around a bit, you can reduce the impact on your bank account, too.

This article explains all about driving endorsements, how points on your licence work, which insurers have good offers for convicted drivers, and how to keep your insurance costs down.

Stay tuned!

What are the different driving offences?

Each category of driving offences has its own set of driving offence codes. For instance, there are several speeding offence codes, for breaking the speed limit on different types of roads or for different types of vehicle. 

The speeding on motorway code is SP50, but if you got caught on an A road you'd have a DVLA speeding code SP30 instead. 

The main drink driving offence code is DR10, but there are a number of others including DR20, where a driver is unfit to drive through drink but not over the legal limit. 

On the other hand there's only one driving without insurance code, IN10.

The table below shows the DVLA offence code associated with each offence. The offences are grouped according to type, for instance:

  • speeding conviction codes,
  • careless driving codes,
  • drink driving conviction codes, and
  • codes for ignoring traffic signs, including the traffic light offence code TS10.

Not every penalty points code is commonly used; some are quite rare (which we have noted under comments).

Some road traffic offences stay on your licence for a certain number of years from the date of conviction. Others stay on your licence for a period counting from the date that you committed the offence. 

Driving offence are also called endorsements. An 'endorsement' is simply the note on your driving licence that you have a conviction and that you have a certain number of penalty points relating to it. Before paper licences were abolished, it was physically written or printed on to your licence - now, it's held on the DVLA computer.

The driving offences codes list by category

Let's check out the driving offence codes list.

We've added 'C' (from the date of conviction) or 'O' (from the date of the offence) after the number of years so you can easily see which applies. 

Accident offences

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
AC10Penalty for leaving the scene of an accident5-104 O (4 years from the date of the offence)"Hit and run"
AC20Failing to give particulars or report an accident within 24 hours5-104 O
AC30Undefined accident offence4-94 ORarely used
Accident offences

Driving whilst disqualified convictions

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licence
BA10Driving while disqualified64 O
BA30Attempting to drive while disqualified64 O
BA40Causing death by driving while disqualified3-114 C
BA60Causing serious injury by driving while disqualified3-114 C (4 years from the date of the conviction)
Driving while disqualified offence codes

Careless driving penalties

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
CD10Driving without due care and attention3-94 OFine up to £5,000 
CD20Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users3-94 OUsually applied to cutting up other drivers, tailgating, slamming brakes on, 
CD30Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users3-94 O
CD40Causing death through careless driving: when unfit through drink3-1111 C2 year ban, possible prison sentence
CD50when unfit through drugs3-1111 C2 year ban, possible prison sentence
CD60 when above the alcohol limit3-1111 C2 year ban, possible prison sentence up to 14 years
CD70and failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis3-1111 C2 year ban, possible prison sentence up to 14 years
CD80Causing death by careless or inconsiderate driving3-114 Cone year ban, prison sentence up to 5 years
CD90Causing death by driving while disqualified or uninsured3-114 C12 year ban, possible prison sentence up to 2 year
Careless driving conviction codes

Construction and use penalties – relate to the vehicle

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
CU10Defective brakes34 O
CU20Use of unsuitable vehicle 34 OApplies to vehicles in a dangerous condition
CU30Defective tyres34 O
CU40Defective steering34 O
CU50Overloaded 34 O
CU80Breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle - this is the code relating to the offence of using a mobile phone while driving3-64 O
Construction and use of the vehicle penalties

Dangerous or reckless driving

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
DD10Causing serious injury by dangerous driving3-114 Cminimum 12 month ban and mandatory retest
DD40Dangerous driving3-114 C
DD60Manslaughter or culpable homicide while driving3-114 C
DD80Causing death by dangerous driving3-114 Cminimum 2 year ban, possible prison sentence up to 14 years
DD90Furious driving3-94 Cvery rarely used
Dangerous and reckless driving penalties

Drink driving convictions

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
DR10Driving/attempting to drive with over the legal limit of alcohol3-1111 C12-36 month driving ban, up to 6 months in prison
DR20Driving/attempting to drive while unfit through drink3-1111 CYou don't have to be over the limit, just too tiddly to drive safely. Same penalties as DR10.
DR30Failing to supply a specimen for analysis3-1111 CRefusing to take a breath, blood or urine test. Same penalties as DR10.
DR31Refusing to give permission for use of a blood sample 3-1111 C
DR61Ditto (when blood sample was taken under other circumstances than driving)1011 C
DR40In charge of a vehicle while over the limit104 O but from date of conviction, if driver is disqualified
DR50In charge of a vehicle while unfit through drink104 O but from date of conviction, if driver is disqualified
DR60Failure to provide a specimen (while in charge but not driving/attempting to drive)104 O but from date of conviction, if driver is disqualified
DR70Failing to provide breath test44 O but from date of conviction, if driver is disqualifiedApplies to breath test at the roadside
Drink driving convictions codes

Drug driving penalties

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
DG10Driving/attempting to drive with drugs above legal limit3-1111 C
DG40In charge of vehicle with drugs above legal limit104 O but from date of conviction, if driver is disqualified
DG60Causing death by careless driving with drugs above limit3-1111 C
DR80Driving/attempting to drive while unfit through drugs3-1111 CCan apply to prescription drugs (eg if they make you feel drowsy)
DR90In charge of vehicle while unfit through drugs104 O but from date of conviction, if driver is disqualified
Drunk driving offences codes

Driving without insurance conviction IN10

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
IN10Using an uninsured vehicle6-84 OIN14 is often found as a No insurance conviction code when someone has lent their car to an uninsured friend or family member
Driving without insurance penalty points

Licence offences

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
LC20Driving otherwise than in accordance with the licence3-64 O
LC30Making false declaration of fitness3-64 Overy rarely used
LC40Failing to notify a disability3-64 O
LC50Driving after licence refused/revoked on medical grounds3-64 O
Licence offences explained

Miscellaneous convictions

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
MS10Leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position34 O
MS20Unlawful pillion riding34 Oeg if there is no pillion seat or there are no footrests
MS30Play street offences24 Overy unusual
MS50Motor racing on the highway3-114 O
MS60Offences not covered by other codes34 O
MS70Driving with uncorrected defective eyesight34 OIf your licence says you need glasses to drive, you must wear them.
MS80Refusing to take eyesight test34 OYou must be able to read a number plate from 20.5 metres
MS90Failure to give identity of driver64 O
Miscellaneous convictions

Motorway endorsements

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
MW10Contravention of regulations (other than speeding)34 Oeg driving on the hard shoulder
Motorway endorsements

Pedestrians crossing offences

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
PC10Undefined contravention34 O hardly ever used
PC20Contravention by driving through pedestrian crossing when a pedestrian is trying to cross34
PC30Parking on pedestrian crossing34 Oincludes parking on the zigzag lines either side of the crossing
Pedestrians crossing offences

Being caught speeding offences

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
SP10Exceeding goods vehicle limit3-64 OLarger goods vehicles have specific speed limits
SP20Exceeding speed limit for type of vehicle (not goods or passenger)3-64 OThis speeding fine code applies to vehicles such as tractors or bulldozers using the road
SP30Breaking speed limit on public road3-64 O
SP40Exceeding passenger vehicle limit3-64 Ominibuses and buses have specific speed limits
SP50Breaking speed limit on motorway3-64 O
Speeding offences

Traffic direction/signs convictions

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
TS10Traffic lights34 OA traffic light offence is common, as cameras are used to catch offenders
TS20Contravening double white lines34 OOvertaking where it's not allowed
TS30Running a stop sign34 ONot often prosecuted
TS40Failing to comply with police directions34 O
TS50Other traffic signs34 O
TS60School crossing patrol34 O
TS70Traffic direction signs34 Overy unusual offence
Pedestrians related convictions

Special offence

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
TT99*Totting up-4 C
Special offence

*TT99 is a special code that applies to 'totting up' disqualification, where the total of penalty points reaches 12 or more within 3 years. The three years is calculated from when the first offence was committed, not from the date the points were added to your licence.

Theft offence

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty pointsYears that points stay on licenceComment
UT50Aggravated taking of a vehicle3-114 OCould include using family member's car without their permission
Theft offence

Mutual recognition

There are also several 'mutual recognition' codes that apply to drivers who have been disqualified for offences committed  in Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man by drivers with a British licence. The motoring conviction code for these offences is not as specific as the British codes, but the disqualification is equally valid and the record of penalty points will stay on the licence for four years.

Offence codeDescriptionPenalty points (NI)Years that points stay on licenceComment
MR09Reckless or dangerous driving3-114 CIncludes all categories of careless, dangerous driving 
MR19Hit and run accident5-104 CFailing to stop after an accident, failure to report an accident
MR29Drink/drug driving3-114 CIncludes failure to provide a specimen
MR39Speeding3-64 C
MR49Driving whilst disqualified64 C
MR59Othervaries4 C
Mutual recognition offences

What if I didn’t commit the driving offence myself?

If you don't commit the offence yourself, but you enable it, then the road traffic offence code applicable will have the final digit changed to:

  • 2, for aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring;
  • 4, for causing or permitting; or
  • 6, for inciting.

For instance, the driving licence penalty code IN14 would apply to permitting the offence of driving while uninsured, if you lent your car to a friend who wasn't insured to drive it. If you spiked a friend's drink knowing she was going to drive, then the code would be DR12, for procuring a driving offence. (That's dreadful legal language. It would also, probably, enable your friend to make a successful defence against drink driving charge DR10 - as well as most likely putting an end to your friendship.)

How much can I be fined for a driving offence?

The courts have wide powers of discretion on how many points they award for many offences. The penalties for simple and relatively trivial offences are often fixed at £100 or £300, if you pay the fixed penalty charge.

It's easy to answer, for instance, "How many penalty points will you receive for running a stop sign?" But for more serious and more complex offences, the courts have more discretion; for instance, drink driving can carry a penalty of anywhere between 3 and 11 points. 

The courts can also impose fines and even prison sentences. That's one reason it's usually worth paying up when you get a Fixed Penalty Notice, rather than going to court, unless you're really sure of your case.

It's also worth noting that though some offences carry a mandatory ban, even speeding offences can be punished by disqualification if they are considered to be serious enough.

What counts as a driving conviction?

From the point of view of your insurer, if you have paid a fixed penalty fine or if you have been convicted in court, any of the offences above count as a driving conviction and need to be declared when you apply for insurance.

Traffic violations in the UK are a complex area of law. They are not always punished by points on your licence and the legal definition of 'conviction' is slightly different from insurers'!

Not all traffic offences lead to you having a criminal record. Speeding, careless driving, failure to provide driver details or obey a traffic sign, and using a mobile phone are usually Fixed Penalty offences. If you pay the fine when you get the Fixed Penalty Notice, 

  • this counts as a driving conviction from the point of view of an insurer,
  • but it is not a criminal conviction and you won't have a criminal record.

But there are some get-out clauses which mean you might not be convicted. And in this case, you won't see the same impact on your insurance bills. If you're allowed to do a speed awareness course instead of getting the conviction code for speeding stuck in your licence, for instance, that's not a conviction.

Equally, if you've been cautioned by a police officer, or given a final warning, that's not a conviction. You will only have a conviction if

  1. you paid the fixed penalty fine for the offence, or
  2. you were found guilty of the offence in a magistrate's (or higher) court.

It's also worth pointing out that even though getting a parking ticket might look and feel pretty much the same as getting a speeding ticket, parking in the wrong place isn't an offence, and your insurer certainly won't want to know about it.

How many points do I have on my driving licence?

If you want to check whether there are points on your licence it's easy to do so online. 

This website will let you check as long as you have your National Insurance number, your driving licence number and the postcode on your driving licence.

If you've got a clean licence, of course, nothing will show up at all. Points are added with each offence, up to a total of 12 - at which point, you will be disqualified. (If you've already got to 9 or more, drive carefully!)

It's particularly useful to check if you know you have points on your licence but are expecting them to expire - you can see when you have a clean licence again.

Can I pay for removing points off my driving licence?

No. There's no way you can pay to get points taken off your licence; you have to wait until the expire.

Some people think you have to pay because until the paper licence was abolished in 2015, you had to pay £20 and send your licence in to have the points removed. Now the data is held centrally on the DVLA computer, you no longer have to do this; the points will be automatically taken away once they expire, and there is no charge made for the service.

Do I have to send your driving license off when you get points?

If you get an endorsement you'll need to hand your licence over to the police, or send it with your payment and your Fixed Penalty Notice to a fixed penalty office (FPO), or when you appear in court.

If you've changed address in the meantime, or if you've been disqualified - or if the licence you gave the court isn't valid - it will need to be sent to DVLA.

If you don't send in your licence when you get a Fixed Penalty Notice, the case gets sent to court - and you'll get a conviction and most likely a stiffer fine than the £100 fixed penalty. 

If your licence has been sent to the FPO it should be back with you within four weeks. If it's been sent to DVLA, normally it will come back within three weeks.

How long does it take to get your driving licence back after points?

If you've been disqualified after committing a driving offence, you'll get your licence back eventually:

  • if you've been convicted in court, the court can decide how long your disqualification will last;
  • if you're disqualified because you got 12 points on your licence, your ban will last between 6 months and 2 years. The rules are shown in the table below.
How many points?How long you'll be banned for
12 penalty points within 3 years6 months
Second disqualification within 3 years12 months
Third disqualification within 3 years2 years
How long does points stay on your licence

If you are disqualified for more than 56 days you'll need to apply for a new licence before you can get back on the road. If you're disqualified for less than 56 days, just check the DVLA site to see when your disqualification ends; you don't need to apply for a new licence, as soon as your ban is ended you're allowed to drive again.

A court might also tell you that you have to take the driving test again before you're allowed to get your full licence back.

How to avoid getting points on your licence?

There are several ways to avoid getting points on your licence, of which the easiest is not to commit an offence in the first place!

Many drivers commit a traffic offence without meaning to, for instance by missing a speed sign or not remembering the rules about speed limits.The following tips can help you avoid getting the wrong side of traffic law in the UK.

  • Check your car, tyres, and loading for safety on a regular basis.
  • Make sure your car is taxed and insured! Check out our article "Is my car insured?" because this can be a more complicated question than it looks.
  • To avoid accidentally drinking that bit too much, either don't drink at all, or use our alcohol calculator to find out how much is too much. It could be a lot less than you think - and take longer to wear off, too.
  • For driving on long stretches of open road, such as motorways and A roads, set your cruise control to the speed limit. That way you won't exceed the speed limit by accident.

And of course….always drive paying attention to the road (including speed signs, road markings), and traffic lights and give yourself space to stop if you need to, for instance coming up to a traffic light that might change.

If you have committed a speeding offence, you may have the opportunity to take a speed awareness course instead of getting points on your licence. It's always worth taking the course - it will probably cost you less than the fine. It could make you a better driver in future, giving you the chance to build up a significant no-claims bonus as well as stay out of trouble!

Drink drivers who have been banned for more than 12 months may also be offered a rehabilitation course. This doesn't stop the conviction but it will reduce the length of the ban, usually by 25%.

What happens if a new driver gets a speeding ticket?

New drivers get the same points and fine that any other driver would. But they can only lose six points, not twelve, before they lose their licence.

So just two speeding offences could add up to disqualification. And because young drivers are seen as high risk by the insurance companies, they already pay high premiums. So the impact of a speeding ticket could be much, much more expensive for a new driver - most of whom are young - than for a driver with longer experience.

How can I get insured if I get points on my licence?

If you have points on your licence you can still get insured, but it will cost you more because insurers see you as a higher risk driver.

It's most difficult for those convicted of drink driving. Specialist insurers are the best route for drivers coming back from disqualification as many high volume, mass market insurers don't want to know. But you will still be able to get insured.

Check out our article on how driving convictions affect car insurance.

How much will motoring convictions cost you on your insurance? 

It's difficult to tell exactly what impact a conviction will have on your car insurance but one thing's certain: you'll end up paying more.

Insurers take a calculated risk with every customer they insure. Convictions increase that risk.  Obviously, someone with penalty points for speeding on their licence presents a higher risk than a driver with a clean licence. Whether they broke the limit because they were trying to get away with it, or out of inattention because they didn't see the new limit signs, their driving was at fault.

Three points from a single speeding offence or running a red light might cost between 20% and 50% extra.

Most insurers see such offences as relatively trivial.

On the other hand, drink driving could cost you considerably more. And don't forget that while a speeding conviction disappears from the record in four years, a drink driving conviction stays on your licence for 11 years. Some customers have reported their insurance premiums doubled; others had difficulty finding a company that would insure them at all.