Committed a driving offence and worried about penalty points affecting your UK driving licence?

However experienced a driver you are, receiving penalty points can be stressful and scary. It doesn’t instantly make you a criminal, though, and the reality is that many motorists will be penalised at some point.

Below we’ll explain how penalty points work, including how you can get them and how they can affect things like your driving licence and car insurance.

How can you get penalty points on your licence?

Points can be added to your driving licence for committing driving offences. Their purpose is to deter dangerous drivers from using the roads and prevent repeat issues.

For example, somebody receiving points for being caught on camera running a red light should be less likely to do it again. They should also be more vigilant when anticipating changing lights on approach. Drivers who disregard their accumulated points and continue to run red lights will eventually receive a driving ban and may have their licence revoked.

Either way, the penalty points system is there to prevent dangerous driving.

Whether it’s just one violation or a combination of a few, here are some of the most common offences for which you may receive penalty points:

  • Speeding (3+ points)
  • Driving without due care and attention (3 to 9)
  • Using a mobile phone while behind the wheel (3 to 6 points)
  • Drink/drug-driving offences (3 to 11 points)
  • Driving while disqualified (6 points)

You can see the extensive list of driving offences that could lead to the addition of points to your licence at

Other offences that you might be less aware of include failing to stop after an accident (5 to 10 points), driving an uninsured vehicle (8 to 10 points), and parking in a dangerous location (3 points).

Authorities decide how many points to add to your licence based on the guidelines set out on the Government website.

Generally, a clear-cut case will result in the issue of a fixed penalty notice to save time when prosecuting. But for other more serious offences, it might be necessary to go to court.

How many points are you allowed on your licence?

The number of points you can have on your licence before having it withdrawn depends on how long you’ve been driving. Newly qualified drivers are deemed as a higher risk and, as a result, face harsher punishment under the points system than more experienced drivers.

How many points can new drivers have?

The driving licence of somebody who passed their test within the last two years will be revoked if they manage to build up 6 or more penalty points.

Any points from your provisional licence will also be carried over to your full licence once you pass your driving test. Further points added onto this within the following two years taking the total up to 6 or more will result in the withdrawal of your licence. 

You’ll need to apply and pay for a new provisional licence to reinstate your full licence if it’s cancelled within your first two years as a qualified driver.

What about more experienced drivers?

Those that passed their driving test more than 2 years ago could be disqualified from driving if they build up 12 or more points within 3 years.

If you do accumulate this number of points, then disqualification could last for up to 3 years depending on the offences leading to it. 

For disqualifications lasting more than 56 days, the driver must reapply for their driving licence. However, retaking driving tests might not be necessary – it depends on the court's decision. 

Disqualifications lasting under 56 days won’t require the driver to reapply for their licence before driving again. However, you will need to wait until the disqualification period ends before resuming normal driving again. Otherwise, you could face further consequences.​

How long do points stay on your licence?

The length of time that the penalty points remain on your licence depends on the nature of the driving offence and its severity.

Penalty points can stay on your UK driving licence for 4-11 years.

For example, the points will usually stay on your licence for 4 years following a mild speeding offence.

Meanwhile, the points would remain on your licence for 11 years from the date of conviction if the offence involved drunk or drug driving, along with offences resulting in a fatal injury.

How many points do I have?

You’ll need to check online for the number of points you have using your licence number, postcode, and National Insurance number.

This will give you a check code which you can use to access your driving record, including your points and disqualifications.

What is a driver awareness course?

Following some minor driving offences, you may be given the option of taking a driver awareness course rather than having penalty points applied to your licence. You’ll still need to pay a fine, but you won’t be penalised with points.

Awareness courses are typically offered to first-time offenders or those that haven’t broken any rules of the road in the past three years. They’re designed to get motorists thinking differently about some driving offences, so that they don’t repeat their mistakes.

You won’t always be offered a driver awareness course, though, particularly in the case of more serious infringements. And if you don’t agree to sit the course, the alternative is the maximum number of penalty points allowed for the offence in question.

Do penalty points affect car insurance?

Yes, penalty points will affect the price you pay for car insurance. Most insurers will increase your premium, while some others may not cover you at all.

You should always declare new penalty points when buying insurance, otherwise, if the worst were to happen, your policy may be deemed null and void.

We hope this helps you understand the penalty points system for UK driving licences. Looking for more from Brindley Garages? Click here to check out more news from the motoring world, or if you’re in the market for a new car, see how we can help on our homepage.