One of the first things that you need to do when starting work, unless you are living in a city or working within walking distance of your job, is to learn to drive so that you can get to work.
Many new drivers don’t realise that although they have been granted their licence, they are on probation for the first two years of their driving lives. This means that if they pick up 6 penalty points their licence is revoked and they are returned to “learner” status.
Although 6 points sounds like a lot, it really isn’t and you may be surprised by just how fast they can clock up, most offences carry a penalty of 3 points, so just two offences and you could be in the position of loosing your licence. The most common driving offences are:
- Drink Driving – Despite all the “Think” campaigns that are springing up on TV, in magazines, and on social media seem to be largely ignored with this still being the most common driving offence to be committed. On average 3,000 people are either killed or seriously injured in drink drive collisions every year. If you are found behind the wheel of a vehicle whilst over the legal limit (you don’t even have to have the engine running if you have the keys in your possession ) then you face points on your licence, a financial fine, and a possible instant 12 month ban that will stay with you for 11 years.
- Drug Driving – This is a fairly “new” offence that has surfaced in the past couple of decades and is a growing problem. There is the misconception that it is somehow less serious than “drink driving” but this isn’t true at all. If you are found to be driving whilst unfit due to drugs (even prescription drugs from your doctor) then you can again be facing an instant 12 month ban, licence points and a financial penalty too.
- Speeding – Again, a common offence and an easy one to be caught by, especially given that not all the laws regarding speed are clear. For instance, did you know that vehicles over a certain weight (normally those classified as commercial, so some vans and pick-ups) are restricted on certain roads, where a normal car can do 60 on a country road, commercial vehicles are only allowed to do 50 and 50mph on a dual carriage way. If you break the speed limit, you will get a minimum of 3 points and a fine, although if it is your first offence you may be offered a speed awareness course, which will allow you to avoid points on your licence although the cost of the course is more than the fine. It is worth remembering that the speed limit is a maximum not the speed you should be driving at.
- Jumping red lights – Jumping the lights could result not just in an accident and a hefty insurance claim but could also cost you £60 and three points. Make sure you leave yourself enough room to stop and never consider taking the risk of jumping the red light.
- Illegal tyres – Most people know that tyres have to be in good condition, they are a vital part of helping you keep control of your vehicle, however some people don’t take as much care about the legal state of their tyres as they should, which is a mistake given that you can expect a fine and a penalty of 3 points on your licence per tyre that has tread under the legal limit of 1.6mm.
- Using a mobile phone – Another one that has become more common in recent years is the use of a mobile phone device whilst driving, if you talk on your phone (without using a hands free system), text or play on your phone while you are driving then you are risking 6 points on your licence and a £200 financial fine (you can also be taken to court where you can be banned from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000 (£2,500 if you’re driving a lorry or bus)). If you passed your test in the past two years you will lose your licence.
Just because you can’t see anyone don’t think you can get away with it as CCTV footage is now admissible in court as evidence.
- Uninsured driving – Everyone knows that insurance is expensive, but don’t think you can cut costs by not having it. If you are found to be driving a vehicle without insurance (even if the vehicle itself is insured, if you’re not correctly insured to drive it you could get penalised) then you are eligible for between 6 and 8 points on your licence, a penalty of £300 and the police are within their rights to take the car. If they do, then you are facing £150 to reclaim your car, plus £20 a day for every day they store it. If you refuse to have them store it, they will crush the car for you.
- Driving carelessly – If you are driving carelessly you are bound to attract the wrong sort of attention from the police, the fine for this offence will be the least of your concerns as it also attracts a possible 3 – 9 penalty point fine, if you end up killing someone by dangerous driving you can expect to be in prison for up to 14 years.
- Leaving the scene of an accident – No matter how minor the bump may seem if you leave the scene without stopping to exchange insurance details you are breaking the law and you can expect between 5 and 10 points to be put on your licence. If you have to leave the scene to contact the emergency services leave a note in the car saying where you have gone and why.
- Abandoning your car – Following on from the previous point, if you leave your car in a potentially dangerous position then you risk not only having your car towed away, but also three penalty points on your licence as well as being fined the amount it cost to tow your car and you may not be able to reclaim your vehicle.
The above 10 offences are just the most common motoring offences, and these are by no means the only ways you can be prosecuted or get penalty points on your licence. If you find that you have fallen foul of the law, you may want to consult a solicitor to advise you on your rights and the best way to proceed whether that’s a simple “plead guilty” or a more complex process.
Most of the time, if you err on the side of caution, and pay attention to your vehicle maintenance and the road conditions surrounding you as you drive, you will be able to get through your driving life without encountering any problems – it can be difficult, particularly for young drivers as peer pressure to have a drink after all “one won’t hurt”, can be very strong but is one pint (which can rapidly turn into to two or three) really worth risking losing your licence for?