And when it comes to new motorists, the Government takes an especially tough approach to those convicted of driving offences.
If you get six penalty points within the first 24 months of passing your test, you become automatically disqualified from driving. From here, you’ll go back to square one -- and will need to re-sit both your theory and practical tests. And once you get this far, the financial consequences can be huge. Insurers will regard you as very high risk, meaning already expensive premiums will rise astronomically. If you’ve been using your car to commute to work, this could also have huge ramifications for your employment prospects.
Except the most serious violations of The Highway Code, the majority of road traffic offences carry a punishment of three penalty points -- as well as a monetary fine. Therefore, just two brushes with the law would trigger the automatic revocation of your licence -- no exceptions.
This can seem incredibly daunting at first. However, it’s important to remember that most new drivers get through this two-year period -- and the rest of their motoring life -- without ever getting disqualified. The key to success is meticulously following the rules of the road, a thorough knowledge of what constitutes a traffic offence, and using your common sense.
Speed cameras are the most common way of being caught speeding
This can also carry a fine of up to £1,000 -- or £2,500 if the offence happens on a motorway. Oftentimes, the number of points an offender receives depends upon how far above the speed limit they were.
If you’re above the limit but within a particular threshold, you may be offered the chance to go on a speed awareness course instead of taking three penalty points.
Mind that the drink drive limits differ in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
Dependent on how severely intoxicated an offender is, the courts may have no choice but to order an obligatory disqualification. It can also carry an unlimited fine and, in the most serious cases, a jail sentence of up to six months.
Offering hard and fast rules on how much is safe to drink before getting behind the wheel is impossible, as alcohol affects us all in different ways. The best advice is to always err on the side of caution. Nominate a designated driver who sticks to soft drinks, and leave your car at home if you intend on consuming alcohol.
Another thing to bear in mind is the impact that alcohol can have on your ability to drive safely the following morning -- especially if you had a considerable amount to drink the night before. It can take a while for the body to break down alcohol and for the effects to wear off, meaning you could still be above the legal limit.
Officials recommend that you do not exceed three to four units of alcohol the night before. What this equates to in real terms will often depend on the type of booze you’re drinking and how strong it is.
The penalties for using phones in the car have recently become harsher
Mobile phones can be an immense distraction when you’re behind the wheel. Whether you’re texting, phoning someone or browsing social media, diverting your eyes for just a couple of seconds from the road ahead can cause collisions, serious injury to yourself and others around you, and loss of life.
This offence usually attracts a fixed penalty notice of six penalty points and a £200 fine. It means that if you passed your driving test in the last two years, you are automatically disqualified if caught using your phone behind the wheel.
Make sure you consult your copy of The Highway Code to gain a full understanding of all the offences which can have a negative impact on your licence. They include driving without insurance, using a vehicle that’s in a dangerous condition, driving against medical advice and failing to obey traffic lights.
Although having no MOT certificate and failing to wear a seatbelt do not carry penalty points, you can still face hefty fines which run into hundreds of pounds.
Check how much you know about penalty points and bans with the help of a free mock test ( fines and limits test)
It includes helpful explanations when you get an answer wrong, and cites the relevant section of The Highway Code you need to consult for further information. We even save your progress, allowing you to tackle a few questions at a time when it suits you.