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Motoring Penalty Points and Codes

Find out what penalty you can expect for a driving or road traffic offence with our useful guide below.

Committing a driving offence will often result in penalty points being put on to your licence. If you get 12 of these on your licence over the course of three years, you will be banned from driving, usually for six months, unless you can successfully make a plea of exceptional hardship. This is known as totting up.

For new drivers, the limit is even lower – if you receive 6 points within two years of passing your test, you will lose your licence, and will have to get your provisional licence again and retake your test to regain your full licence.

If you have been previously banned for more than 56 days at any point in the last three years, your disqualification will usually be extended to 12 months.

Totting up is not the only way to have your licence taken away – you can be banned from driving for committing certain serious driving offences, such as driving with excess alcohol or driving without a valid licence.

Your success in making a plea of exceptional hardship will depend on the impact that losing your licence will have on you and others that may depend on you. For example, if you are disabled or a disabled person depends on you for transport, the court may allow you to keep your licence.

If you argue that you need your car for work, and that a disqualification would cost you your job, this may not be considered enough to spare you a ban. However, if you can prove that your ban from driving would have a significant and harmful effect on your employer or business, you may be able to avoid a ban.

Getting your licence back

If you were banned for fewer than 56 days, you will not need to reapply for your licence – a ban of this length is known as Short Period Disqualification (SPD). The length of the period for which you are banned will be noted on your licence, and as soon as it expires you will be free to drive again.

For longer bans, you will need to reapply for your licence. For most disqualified drivers the DVLA will send a form 56 days before your disqualification period ends, which must be filled in and returned.

For “high-risk” offenders, the process is slightly different, but the DVLA will still send you the relevant form, albeit 90 days in advance of the disqualification ending.

You could be classed as a high-risk offender for any of these drink driving offences:

  • failing to supply a sample
  • being caught above the legal limit twice in ten years
  • being caught with an alcohol level significantly above the legal limit (85.5mg per 100ml of breath, 267.5mg per 100ml or urine, or 200mg per 100ml of blood).

If you were disqualified for any other offence, you will be classed as a non-high-risk.

Getting your licence back early

If you are banned for over two years, you have the option of applying to get your licence back early. Whether or not the court will allow this will depend on the circumstances which led to your disqualification and how you have conducted yourself since.

Presenting a case for the early return of your driver’s licence involves an assessment by the Court in which they will consider your character, how you have acted since the disqualification, and other points such as the offence which led to your disqualification and how it happened. This will be done according to the criteria of section 42 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Often you will find your application for early return contested by the Crown Prosecution Service, so it is unfortunately rare to get your licence back early. After a refusal, you are not permitted to make another request of this type for 3 months, and you are less likely to succeed the more you apply.

How early you can apply to get your licence back depends on how long you were banned for.

Length of ban How long you must wait before applying
Less than 4 years 2 years
4 or more years but less than 10 years Half the length of the disqualification period
10 or more years 5 years


Endorsements on your licence can cause you real problems – allow too many to build up, and you could be disqualified from driving. Fortunately, endorsements won’t stay on your licence forever.

Endorsements – how long on your licence?

When an endorsement is put on your licence, it will be shown on there with the relevant code – for example, the code for failing to stop after an accident is AC10. You can find a complete list of codes in our Motoring Penalty Points and Codes section.

The majority of endorsements will stay on your licence for 4 years from the date of conviction, but more serious offences cannot be removed until 11 years have passed from the date of conviction.

Endorsement expiration in 11 years

Many drink driving and drug driving offences will all take 11 years to expire. These include driving while over the limit, causing death by careless driving and failing to provide a specimen. Here is the complete list of 11 year endorsements.

11 year endorsements

CD40 Causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink
CD50 Causing death by careless driving when unfit through drugs
CD60 Causing death by careless driving with alcohol level above the limit
CD70 Causing death by careless driving then failing to supply a specimen for alcohol analysis
DR10 Driving or attempting to drive with alcohol level above limit
DR20 Driving or attempting to drive while unfit through drink
DR30 Driving or attempting to drive then failing to supply a specimen for analysis
DR80 Driving or attempting to drive when unfit through drugs

Endorsement Expiration in 4 years

All other offences expire in 4 years, and can then be removed. Note that not all drink offences remain for 11 years – being drunk in charge of a vehicle, for example, is an endorsement that can be removed after 4 years.

Removing Expired Endorsements

Once an endorsement has expired, you can apply to have it removed from your licence. The points will cease to have any effect after 3 years, meaning that the points will no longer count towards any totting up on your licence.

Removing an expired endorsement is simple if you have a photocard licence. You simply need to fill in and return DVLA driving licence application form D1, which you can obtain from the DVLA’s form ordering service, or from certain branches of the Post Office®. Send this form with your photocard licence, as well as your paper licence and the appropriate fee to the following address:

SA99 1AB

If you still have a paper licence, you will need to upgrade to a photocard licence by also sending photocard application form D750, along with documentation confirming your identity and a passport appropriate photograph. You will also need to include these if your name has changed since your photocard licence was issued (although a new photograph is not necessary).

DVLA Medical Enquiries

The DVLA will also make medical enquiries if any of the following applies:

  • You have been disqualified for driving, or being in charge of a vehicle, when the level of alcohol in the body was far in excess of the amount allowed by law. This will happen if you exceeded one of the following when tested;
    • 87.5 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath;
    • 200 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of blood;
    • 267.5 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.
  • You have two disqualifications within the space of 10 years for drinking and driving, or being in charge of a vehicle whilst unfit through drink.
  • You have one disqualification for refusing/failing to supply a specimen for analysis.

Revocation under the Road Traffic (New Drivers) Act 1995

Revocation applies to any new driver who has passed their test and gotten their licence in the past two years. If you receive 6 points on your licence within two years of your first successful driving test, you will have your licence taken away. At this point, you will need to go through the process of learning to drive again, including getting a provisional licence, driving as a learner and retaking your test.

Even if you do regain your licence, the points that you originally gained will stay on there, meaning that you could be disqualified again if the total reaches 12.

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