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Dangerous driving: What counts as a driving conviction?

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December 18, 2020
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There is a lot of confusion about dangerous driving and what counts as a driving conviction and the impact it can have on your motor insurance.

Here Adrian Flux explains what constitutes a driving conviction and how you can avoid a hike in your insurance costs because of one.

All motoring offences determined by magistrates or at a crown court will lead to a criminal conviction — that can be anything from causing death by dangerous driving or driving under the influence of alcohol, to speeding or failing to wear a seatbelt.

driving conviction

All these offences can lead to a fine, penalty points on your licence, disqualification and, in extreme cases, imprisonment.

But it’s not just the manner of your driving that can lead to convictions. You may be committing an offence if you are driving a defective vehicle, perhaps driving at night with no rear lights, or driving without insurance or a valid licence or MOT. These offences can also lead to a driving conviction.

The rules are just the same, whether the person pleads guilty or is found guilty by the court.

However, offences that are committed but dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice, do not lead to criminal convictions. The fixed penalty notice is served because the authorities believe the offence is serious, but not serious enough to be considered by a court of law.

People also asked

Do I have to declare my driving convictions?

Yes, you do have to declare your convictions, both motoring and criminal, when getting a quote for an insurance policy. If you fail to do so your insurance may be invalid and your insurer may cancel the policy. In the event of a claim you may not be paid and if you have already been paid for a claim and a previous conviction becomes apparent your insurer can ask for its money back.

How long does a driving conviction last?

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, after a period of time your driving conviction will become ”‘spent” and it is no longer allowed to count against you. You don’t have to declare spent convictions.

How long it takes for your conviction to become spent depends on the length and severity of the penalty. Penalty points are usually removed after four years but can stay on your record for up to 11 years for more serious offences.

When your penalty points expire you will have a clean driving licence once again but the DVLA will not notify you that your points are spent. You will have to keep your own record and apply for a replacement licence when the time is right.

Do I have to declare the convictions of a  named driver on my policy?

You will be asked about the driving convictions of everyone named on the policy. So if you have friends or family on your policy, you’d have to declare their convictions too.

How can I check if my named driver has driving convictions?

You should check the driving licence of anyone whom you intend to allow to drive your vehicle.  You can check your licence, and theirs with their cooperation, by visiting the Government website.

How can I avoid getting points on my licence?

You worked hard to get a driving licence so it makes sense to look after it when you have got one. The best way to avoid driving convictions and getting points on your licence is to drive with care and obey the laws of the road. Sometimes the laws may seem a little restrictive, perhaps a speed limit will seem too low, but the laws are administered and enforced to keep you and other road users safe, so stick to them.

If you commit a minor speeding offence, instead of paying your fine and accepting points on your licence, you might be given an alternative option of attending a speed awareness course.

Courses are run throughout the country and are administered by the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme. The cost varies from region to region but it is about £100 and lasts for four hours.

How many points can I have before being disqualified?

If you pick up 12 or more points within a three-year period, you’ll usually be disqualified from driving. If you’re banned from driving for more than 56 days, you’ll have to reapply for a new licence when the ban ends.

If you’re a new driver, you can be disqualified from driving if you get six or more penalty points within two years of passing your driving test.

Will I get a criminal record if I get a driving conviction?

In some cases a driving conviction could result in you getting a criminal record. Convictions for offences that could result in you being imprisoned will go on your criminal record, whether you actually lose your liberty or not.

Drink driving, for example, is a prisonable offence which can result in a six-month prison sentence. Most people get a ban and fine for drink driving, but the conviction will still go on their criminal record.

As well as drink driving, drug driving, failing to provide a breath/blood/urine specimen, failing to stop or report an accident and dangerous driving will all go on a criminal record.

driving conviction

How long will the DVLA keep a record of my driving convictions?

The DVLA keeps a record of all motoring convictions but the length of time they keep them for varies. Records are kept for:

  • Four years from the date of the offence if penalty points are imposed
  • Four years from the date of conviction if a court imposes a disqualification
  • Four years from the date of conviction for dangerous driving related offences
  • 11 years for drink driving, drug driving and failing to provide a specimen

Where can I get cheap insurance with driving convictions?

Adrian Flux specialises in a variety of niche motoring markets, including insurance for drivers with motoring convictions. Unlike many of our competitors, we can offer competitive quotes despite a poor driving record.

We realise your past is not necessarily a guide to the future and in many cases if you have picked up a few points for driving convictions you will drive even more carefully to protect your licence.

As experts in finding cover for all types of specialist and unusual situations, our quotes department can arrange value for money, high quality insurance cover whatever your driving history.

Our best insurance deals are usually over the phone so call  0808 503 7511 for a sensible quote. Alternatively book a call back at a time that suits you.

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