General Road Traffic Offences

Motoring misdemeanours

Below is an explanation of the most common driving offences (excluding drink driving, which can be found here).

If you’ve been caught doing any of these, it’s a good idea to consult a solicitor. They could help you avoid a fine, points on your licence (which means more expensive insurance) and even a ban.

Failing to stop/give particulars after an accident (AC10) (AC20)

The offence

It is an offence to not stop when driving any mechanically propelled vehicle which is involved in an accident which has caused personal injury or damage to another person or vehicle, animal or property, and/or to refuse to give your particulars (name, address and identity mark of vehicle and name and address of the owner if someone else) to anyone who has reasonable cause to ask for them.

If is not safe or practicable to stop then you are under duty to report the accident to the Police as soon as possible and in any event within 24 hours.  If you fail to do so you will have committed the offence of failing to report, which is the sister offence of failing to stop. Both charges are often brought in tandem.

Maximum penalty

  • 6 months imprisonment and/or fine not exceeding Level 5
  • Endorsement with 5-10 penalty points
  • Discretionary disqualification

Comment

It is only compulsory to stop your vehicle and give your particulars if someone (other than you) is injured  or if you have caused damage to another vehicle or to any other property or object on or by the roadside (eg. a lampost, fence or wall).

The duty is not absolute – you are not guilty of failing to stop if as soon as it was practicable to stop and that you did then stop and report the matter to the Police as soon as possible and in any event inside of 24 hours of the accident having occurred.

The more severe the accident, the greater the chance of imprisonment will be. If you have failed to stop or to report the accident, you will be treated less leniently if:

  • The Court believes that you were trying to avoid taking a breath test;
  • Serious injury was caused.

The defences to this charge may be that you were unaware that the accident had taken place or that your vehicle was not involved in any accident. It would of cou

rse as above be a defence to the charge if you did report the matter to the Police within the 24 hour time frame.

Failing to report an accident (AC10)

The offence

After driving a vehicle which is involved in an accident which causes personal injury to another person or damage to property and not stopping to exchange particulars, it is an offence not to report the accident to the police as soon as possible within 24 hours of the accident’s occurrence.

Maximum penalty

  • 6 months imprisonment and/or fine not exceeding Level 5
  • Endorsement with 5-10 penalty points
  • Discretionary disqualification

Speeding/exceeding the speed limit (SP30)

Offence

Driving on a road in excess of the prescribed speed limit

Maximum penalty

  • Fine not exceeding Level 3
  • Endorsement with 3-6 penalty points
  • Discretionary disqualification

Comment

If you are driving at more than 20-30 mph over the limit then you will in all probability be disqualified, although factors such as speed, road traffic conditions and weather will come into play.

If you are offered a fixed penalty, and you are sure that you are guilty then it is probably best to take it, as your licence will be endorsed with the minimum number of penalty points and the fine (currently £100 is likely to be a lesser one than the court would impose). You will also escape paying court fees at a later date.

There are a few possible defences to this offence:

  • that you were not speeding
  • it was not you driving
  • you were driving an exempted vehicle in an emergency.
  • The speed detection equipment was defective
  • You were acting under duress/under necessity of circumstances

The prosecution can convict you if they produce photographs

of your vehicle taken from speed cameras as evidence, and these photos should be  backed up by a statement from the speed detection device operator confirming the speed and that the device was approved, properly set up and operating correctly. .

Under s20 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act (as amended by s23 of the Road Traffic Act 1991) where a radar device is used the police are required to provide a record produced by the prescribed device along with a certificate stating the circumstances in which it was produced, which must be signed by constable or other authorised person. 

Speeding on a motorway (SP50)

Offence

Driving on a motorway in excess of the speed limit

Maximum Penalty

  • Fine not exceeding Level 3
  • Endorsement with 3-6 penalty points
  • Discretionary disqualification

Comment

If you are caught driving at more than 100 mph you will most probably be disqualified in addition to being fined.

Visit our speeding offences section for more information on speeding.

Totting up

The totting up provisions means that a driver may be disqualified if he/she collects 12 penalty points within a three year period.

If you accumulate 12 penalty points within a 3 year period (it is the date on which the offences took place rather than date of the hearings that counts), then you will be disqualified from driving for a minimum of 6 months.

When you get your licence back after being disqualified, you start with a clean slate, with all previous penalty points expunged.

If you want to avoid being banned for totting up then it is up to you to convince the court that there are mitigating circumstances. This would entail demonstrating that a disqualification would cause you ‘exceptional hardship’. An example of this could be loss of employment due to dependency on your car, or hardship imposed on members of your family if the removal of your licence renders you unable to reach them.

You can find further advice on how to claim for exceptional hardship in our totting up section.

Level of Fines

  • Level 1 £200
  • Level 2 £500
  • Level 3 £1,000
  • Level 4 £2,500
  • Level 5 £5,000 

If you have been charged with any of the above offences and require advice, we would like to point you in the direction of Instant Law Line. You can avail yourself of telephone advice from a lawyer at an affordable rate, on a variety of flexible payment plans.

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