Fleet Risk: Understanding Drivers’ Penalty Points

4 min to readDriver safety
There are almost three million UK drivers with points on their licence, and the offences are more diverse than most people realise. Here’s how to keep your drivers safe and legal.
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Accident and injury rates will understandably be a top priority for most companies when they look at fleet risk, but it’s just as important to pay attention to drivers’ penalty points. After all, a driver can’t do their job of they lose their licence.

There is a long list of offences which can earn drivers ‘endorsements’ on their licence and, in some cases, lead to them being disqualified altogether. We’ve had a look at how the system works, and some focus points for fleet managers, in the following guide.

How does the penalty points system work?

Motoring offences are classed by a series of codes and there’s a sliding scale of penalty points, based on their severity, which are applied to a driver’s licence if they are convicted. Endorsements are not particularly unusual; the latest Government data shows 2.76m licences had at least one penalty point in May 2023, which is roughly one in every 14 drivers.

For the most common offences, drivers will get three penalty points on their licence, remaining for three years after they are caught before being removed automatically. However, the most serious convictions – involving alcohol, drugs or a death – come with up to 11 penalty points and these will stick around for 11 years.

The system is also designed to deter repeat offenders. Drivers can be disqualified if they pick up 12 penalty points within three years, or six within two years of passing their test. There are currently 94,000 drivers with nine points on their licence, which means they are only a speeding ticket away from a full ban.

With that in mind, regular licence checks – including for anyone applying for a job that involves driving – are essential for fleet managers. Not only can they help reduce the risk of disruption later on, but they’re a useful way to keep an eye on driver behaviour.

Which motoring offences can result in penalty points?

Ask people to name the most common motoring offences, and they’re likely to be close to the actual list. According to DVLA data source by LeasePlan through a freedom of information request, the top five endorsements (as of July 2023) are as follows:

However, drivers are often surprised to discover that there’s a much longer list of misdemeanours which can affect their record – as well as their safety on the road. For example:

It’s also important to note that drivers can also get penalty points on their licence for inciting a motoring offence, even if they are not at the wheel.

What happens if a driver is disqualified?

Courts can revoke a driver’s licence for up to six months if they have picked up 12 penalty points within three years. This has its own endorsement code, which stays on their licence for four years after a conviction. Bans can be extended to 12 months if drivers are disqualified twice within three years, and 24 months if it’s their third time.

Drivers who are disqualified for 56 days or more have to apply for a new licence and might also have to re-take their test. Newly qualified drivers have to apply for a provisional licence and pass both their theory and practical tests before they get their full licence back.

There are also endorsements for not observing a ban. Anyone caught driving, or attempting to drive, while disqualified will get a large fine, six penalty points and could face community service or even go to prison.

How can fleets help drivers avoid points?

Although it’s ultimately the driver’s responsibility to stay safe, fleet managers can help create a safety-focused culture by raising awareness of risk at the wheel. For example:

Published at 20 September 2022
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20 September 2022
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