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Road Traffic Offences

From reckless or dangerous driving, speeding, to driving under the influence, there are a number of ways in which drivers could be considered to be breaking the law on the road in England & Wales.

If you’ve been involved in an accident or accused of a driving offence, you’ll want to make sure you understand the specialist terms involved in road traffic law. This glossary tells you everything you need to know.

Compulsory Basic Training

Compulsory Basic Training is required to teach a would-be motorcyclist how to safely ride – this is a necessary step in obtaining your provisional driving licence. Once CBT has been completed, you can ride on the road, provided that your motorbike or moped is equipped with L plates.

Driving Endorsement

Driving endorsements are the same as penalty points which the court can issue you for a driving offence. Endorsements must stay on your driving licence for 4 or 11 years, depending on the offence.

Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)

If you commit a minor driving offence, you may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) instead of being summoned to court. An FPN consists of a fixed penalty – which can include a fine and penalty points – but will spare you the cost and inconvenience of having to go to court.

Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)

A NIP is a warning to notify a driver that they might be prosecuted for a driving offence. It should be signed and returned within 28 days.

Notice of Rejection

If you have been issued a parking ticket, commonly in the form of a PCN, you have the option to appeal this if you believe it was issued unfairly and you have 28 days from the date of issue to do this. If the Council rejects your appeal then you can make a formal challenge after the Council sends you the ‘Notice to Owner’. The Council then has 56 days to decide whether or not to accept your challenge. If they still don’t agree with it they will send you a ‘Notice of Rejection’. If you still wish to challenge the fine then your final option is to appeal to the Traffic Penalty Tribunal or if the ticket was issued in London then you should appeal to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service.

Notice to Owner

If you have been issued a parking ticket, generally in the form of a PCN, you have 28 days to pay the fine. If you pay within 14 days the fine will be reduced by 50%. If the fine is not paid within 28 days a Notice to Owner will be sent to the registered owner.

Penalty Charge Notice (PCN)

This is the most common type of parking ticket. In most cases you have 28 days to pay or challenge the ticket.

Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN)

If a vehicle is off the road and not in use, it does not need to be taxed and insured but it must be declared as SORN otherwise the vehicle will still be considered to be on the road. You can do this via the government website.

Totting Up

Totting up is the term used for the accumulation of penalty points. If you accumulate 12 penalty points within 3 years, you will be disqualified from driving.

Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax)

It is a widely held misconception that the tax paid on your vehicle is known as ‘Road Tax’, and is paid towards the upkeep of the roads. In actuality, Vehicle Excise Duty (also known as vehicle or car tax) has nothing to do with fixing roads, and is charged based on the CO2 emissions that the vehicle produces (or, if the vehicle was registered before March 2001, the size of its engine).


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