5 Ways to Earn a Driving Penalty without Knowing

News entry dated 01st Feb 2017

It can prove surprisingly easy for drivers to land themselves with a penalty sanction without realising their mistake, whilst driving (or indeed parking) on British roads. Last year The Daily Mail revealed that nearly 10 million driving fines were issued in the decade to 2012.

While many of these fines will have been for perfectly legitimate reasons, plenty of them will have caused drivers to feel unfairly treated, especially if they received a fine for an “offence” that road conditions made impossible to prevent.

Penalty Points

Here are five examples of incidents that can land individuals with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). Some of them are far from being common knowledge:

1. Idling whilst stationary: Not everyone knows that leaving a car idling can land the driver with a fixed penalty notice for up to £40. Local authorities tend to take individual approaches to enforcement of this rule, and are encouraged not to be overzealous – but taken to extremes this can even mean a fine for leaving a car stationary to warm up on a cold day. This rule does NOT apply when sitting still in traffic.

2. Driving around obstructions: Sometimes obstructions in the road may cause a driver to have to mount a kerb or go into a bus or cycle lane – triggering a fixed penalty that couldn’t have feasibly been avoided but still requires an appeal.

3. Failing to give pedestrians right of way: Pedestrians having right of way on all British roads is a hotly-debated theory – something clear from the hundreds of lively (and heated) forum threads on the subject.

In actual fact, The Highway Code makes a point to all road users that “the rules in The Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance,” and instead refers to who has priority in certain circumstances.

Road crossing

However, rule 170 of The Highway code does state the following:

“Watch out for pedestrians crossing a road into which you are turning. If they have started to cross they have priority.”

While, strictly speaking, the Highway Code is an advisory rather than a legal document, this explains why drivers can sometimes find themselves with a Fixed Penalty Notice if they fail to stop and let a pedestrian finish crossing a road.

4. Not obeying traffic signals and signs: Obviously drivers should always try to follow the rules of the road, but as with the case of driving around obstructions, circumstances can sometimes make this impossible. Often drivers are left with impossible dilemmas – such as moving away beyond a now-red light or continuing to obstruct a crossing.

5. Single yellow lines: Sometimes the rules around parking on single yellow lines almost seem designed to catch people out and generate revenue. The thing that trips many drivers up is assuming that parking on these lines is OK at the weekend or on bank holidays. In fact, these Controlled Parking Zones (CPZs) are subject to local rules that will determine the exact restrictions, and it’s down to drivers to carefully check the information signs to make sure they don’t end up with a fixed penalty.

Appealing FPNs

Anyone who disagrees with a Fixed Penalty Notice has the right to appeal. Such notices are issued and dealt with by local councils, who also handle appeals individually. As such, people wishing to appeal will need to follow the guidelines set by the council where the alleged offence took place.

Penalty Points

Penalty points (or endorsements) are the government’s way of penalising people who drive carelessly or fail to follow the rules of the road. Points also cost drivers money, as insurance companies always load the price of premiums for drivers with points, as they’re perceived to be more of a risk.

Points can also lead to disqualification, with the ban threshold being 12 points for experienced drivers, and just six for new drivers within two years of passing their test. In the latter case, novice drivers also have to retake their driving tests if they are banned for accumulating these points.

So, it clearly makes sense for all drivers to avoid accumulating points. However, it turns out that it’s actually surprisingly easy to do so for some rather low-level offences that seem like little more than misdemeanors.

A full government breakdown of endorsement codes and point values is available here – but it’s in the unwritten detail that it really gets interesting.

Offences that can earn three points

With the exception of “play street offences,” which earn two points, the minimum number of points handed out for driving offences is three. (A play street offence is when a vehicle is driven on a road designated and signposted for play, outside of the published times).

With new drivers facing a ban after just six points, these three point offences can soon add up. So, on that basis, what offences can earn a driver three points? Here are a few examples:

  • Contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations with stationary vehicle (PC30): This sounds awfully serious but can actually just mean being a tiny way over a white line at a traffic light.
  • Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of use of unsuitable vehicle (CU20): This could come down to something as minor as improperly maintained windscreen wipers or a broken mirror, but it’s still three points. Generally speaking, police officers can issue a “Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice” in these cases, but it’s at their discretion.
  • Furious driving (DD90): This earns a minimum of three points and potentially up to nine. Anyone who shows their displeasure with other drivers by making a point (think breaking or tailgating), runs the risk of points for this offence.

The full list of offences that attract points makes interesting reading. Another point that many people are unaware of is that it’s not only drivers who can earn penalty points. Passengers can be punished with endorsements on their own licences for offences that are construed to be inticing or aiding and abetting others.

How to reduce the risk of points

Obviously the key way people can avoid points is to drive safely and legally at all times. Keeping vehicles well maintained is important too.

UK License

However, people who do inadvertently trip themselves up and land up eligible for points can help themselves by being as co-operative as possible. If a police officer has the choice of issuing points, or a handing out a “ticking off” in the form of a “Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice,” they’re unlikely to choose the latter if they’re faced with petulance or rudeness.

Similarly, those caught speeding often have the choice of endorsements or a paid speed awareness course. The cost of the course may well prove lower than the insurance increase for the points. Furthermore, many people reluctantly admit that they do really learn something from such courses.

Have you had any experience with penalty points or Fixed Penalty Notices? Any incidents you feel were unfair? Share them in the comments below. 

IMAGE CREDITS:

anonymous, Metropolitan Police car01, CC BY-SA 3.0

Lewis Clarke, London , Westminster – Vauxhall Bridge Road, Pedestrian Crossing – geograph.org.uk – 1739902, CC BY-SA 2.0

Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

 

Comments

39 Comments On "5 Ways to Earn a Driving Penalty without Knowing"

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Jon Turner
Jon Turner
I’m disabled due to having broken my back about 25 years ago; I can walk very short distances but it is acutely painful. I’ve also been a true “petrolhead” since I got my 1st dinky toy at 18 months old (my age, not the cars). One of my cars is an AC Cobra replica with a 5.7 litre Chevy engine kicking out about 400bhp. It has no roof & if I left my disabled pass on display, the chances of it still being there when I get back are slim to none (apparently they fetch a lot of money on… Read more »
Richard Nunn
Richard Nunn
Well if the rules apply to all road users could someone point out to cyclists they do not have the “right” to go through red lights, cycle the wrong way in 1 way streets or turn right in “no right turn” junctions. I hate cyclists who ride through pedestrian areas, without any consideration for anyone else, except themselves. They don’t pay for a road fund license, no MOT or have insurance. It’s about time they started contributing the same costs that other road users have to pay. It would be nice to see a few bicycles going to the crusher… Read more »
Andrew Rowland
Andrew Rowland

The article doesn’t inspire confidence by confusing ‘right of way’ and ‘priority’. Right of way is the right to use a certain road/path/whatever; priority is about who gives way to whom.

Derek Shanks
Derek Shanks

If everyone took their case to court instead of paying the fixed penalty fine, it would very quickly clog up the courts & the authorities would stop isuing these unjust rediculas fines, paying the fixed penalties only encourages tho police, DVLA & counciles etc to issue more & more.

Anthony White
Anthony White

If pedestrians have to be given the right of way if they have begun to cross the road why do we have zebra crossings and what do we do about the passive-aggressive ‘chicken’ player pedestrians?

Lynda Gage
Lynda Gage

Out of city or town centres crossings are fewer so I will presume that the highway code reflects that and this is the reason vehicles AND cyclists are expected to give way to pedestrians who have already started to cross the road.

Ken Clewes
Ken Clewes
It has always been the pedestrian having the right of way once on the road, but they too, have to ensure their own safety by stepping out in ample time, to give the driver, enough time to slow down or stop. But then there are those that step out on you without thinking and expect you to stop suddenly, risking the driver and their passengers. This part of the Highway Code should be shown on tv to get through to pedestrians. They show drinking and driving for drivers They show the wearing of seat belts for drivers They warn drivers… Read more »
Clive Mason
Clive Mason

Kingston Council in South London, sent me a FPN and £130 fine, for driving in a bus lane. The bus lane signs had been sent away for painting. The FPN was cancelled on appeal, to the Parking and Traffic Appeals Service. How many people just paid the £130 and didn’t appeal?

Piers Nash-Williams
Piers Nash-Williams

I was fined for driving om a bus lane in Plymouth. For some reason, the original letter did not reach me, and in consequence the Council (in a repeat letter) added a 50% surcharge. I appealed, and they were entirely fair: they restarted the process, which meant that I not only did not have to pay the 50% surcharge, but had the opportunity to obtain a 50% reduction for prompt payment. Thus I only had to pay £30 instead of £90. Thank you, Plymouth!

Linda Watkins
Linda Watkins
English motorists would be shocked to see how tough Australian road laws are. Speeding fines are given out for exceeding the speed limit by 1 or 2 kilometres!! A fine of $194 plus 1 demerit point for driving at 62kmph in a 60kmph zone! There is no offer of a driver education program here just pure revenue raising. The Melbourne area has introduced 40kmph zones (not miles) on major roads, and not just at school times… Many intersections raise over $1 Million per MONTH from hidden fixed cameras attached to overhead bridges and overpasses, guard rails and police hiding behind… Read more »
michael BOWDEN
michael BOWDEN

On a recent visit to Australia I was warned by the locals of the punitive fines for speeding, any limit is strictly enforced with no leniency for 1 or 2 kph over the limit. However low speed limits in the vicinity of schools are applied at specific times, unlike here where limits apply 24/7. It was quite common to have 15kph limits applied at roadworks 15kph = 9.3 mph.

Michael Rolison
Michael Rolison

We told at the end of a speed awareness course that we did not need to notify the insurance company of the attendance at the course as no penalty points had been accued.

michael BOWDEN
michael BOWDEN

On a recent visit to Australia I was warned by the locals of the punitive fines for speeding, any limit is strictly enforced with no leniency for 1 or 2 kph over the limit. However low speed limits in the vicinity of schools are applied at specific times, unlike here where limits apply 24/7. It was quite common to have 15kph limits applied at roadworks 15kph = 9.3 mph.

Dave Corbett
Dave Corbett
How about the UK’s common pastime – cutting mini roundabouts. Often motorists cut the corner totally, to the wrong side of the roundabout. In doing so, they are ‘failing to conform to a traffic sign’ ( the mini roundabout sign on approach). This, will attract a fpn, and possibly three points. Some roundabouts are too tight to circumnavigate, and leeway is given to the driver to make some effort to observe it. The implication is that drivers should negotiate it at such a low speed, but we all know that that is an inconvenience to the irresponsible/lazy drivers, hence the… Read more »
Anthony White
Anthony White

If you try to go round some mini-roundabouts correctly then others seem to think from the line you have to take that you are going straight on – and they pull out in front of you.

Hasmukh Doshi
Hasmukh Doshi

there are another group of rogue drivers who together as a team drive in a manipulative and deceitful manner forcing an innocent driver who maybe unaware and drives into traffic signs area where it prohibited to stop or drive through. another situation where there are speed cameras when a driver ahead of you slows down irritably forcing the driver behind him to overtake at a speed and breaking the speed limit and being caught on a camera. beware of evil drivers.

Richard Nunn
Richard Nunn

In that case just carry on as normal and let them overtake you. They’ll get caught and you won’t. Patience is a great virtue in my book

Ian Whittles
Ian Whittles

Sorry Hasmukh but if people are not patient enough to stay behind and want to risk overtaking at speed and maybe causing other drivers to take evasive action to prevent accidents then they deserve to be caught be patient at all times

Zulobia Fazal
Zulobia Fazal

Is there a difference between a Fixed Penalty Notice and a Parking Charge Notice?

Richard McDonald
Richard McDonald

Look at Martin Lewis money saving expert site for a full explanation but –

A fixed penalty notice is issued by the council or police and must be paid. Normally council owned car pars or on the street.

A parking charge notice is just an invoice or bill issued by the car park owner charging you for parking badly say over two bays or overstaying your paid parking time, usually if you ignore them the company will go away, or you can use photo or witness evidence to prove you were not at fault.

Antony Johnson
Antony Johnson

Pedestrians should be given priority, as should cyclists when crossing side-streets (roads should be so-marked to make this clear). By making the streets more pedestrian and cyclist friendly, more people would choose to leave their cars at home, so reducing traffic and pressure on car parking spaces, and of course benefitting people’s health. Seems like a win-win situation!

Christopher Brockman
Christopher Brockman
Speed Awareness courses are something that I find are a bit counter-intuitive in their application. Many people accidentally go slightly over the limit due to temporary inattention, going down a slight incline etc. but not done deliberately. They are probably only a few miles an hour over, which is obviously illegal, but not done in a cavalier manner. I cannot remember the exact criteria for a course being offered but I know those who are considerably over the limit (short of automatic disqualification) are not offered the option. Surely it is the latter offence that should be the one where… Read more »
Anthony White
Anthony White

I see your point.
However, I think the SAC is designed for the driver who is inattentive rather than reckless, and hence is willing to be warned and educated. No amount of education will correct the deliberately reckless driver.

Thomas Collett
Thomas Collett

l also went through my MP but it did not do any thing so l just paid the fine to get rid of them

Thomas Collett
Thomas Collett

l have parked my car on the footpath where there are yellow lines and l received a PCN l did appeal however it was over turned because of the yellow line also if l had put my Blue Badge in the window l would not have mad a PCN
by the way this footpath is outside a block of flats and there was no where else to park while l was visiting my sister

Alistair Barclay
Alistair Barclay

I pulled over a white line at a red traffic light to let a ambulance through and received a fixed penalty red light fine and points, I accepted the driver training course as a alternative but it still cost me £85.00
Needless to say the next time an ambulance can wait till the lights change as i certainly won’t do that again.

Andrew Chinn
Andrew Chinn

So, because you failed to challenge the ticket due to mitigating circumstances (which would have been reasonable due to allowing an ambulance on a red run to pass), someone can now potentially die because you wouldn’t do the same again?

Smart.

Anthony White
Anthony White

Even ‘smarter’ is the person who handed out the penalty notice – who can apparently sleep at night after taking action that will put the sick and dying at greater risk for fear of a traffic offence being penalised.
The law needs to specifically allow for situations such as this.
Suppose a blue-light police car is hindered because to let it through would be a traffic offence? What then? Lose – lose for the motorist.

Rwth Hunt
Rwth Hunt
Also as a driver and pedestrian, I frequently step back if a car is coming. Not if I am on a pedestrian crossing though. When in doubt don’t do it is my watchword. If there is an obstruction and the lights change back to red while I am waiting, I wait until they change back to green. Tough but safer. I live in a rural area where drivers frequently have to give way to approaching traffic, and the usual rule seems to be that the driver nearest the overtaking bay uses it, including backing a few yards to it. Some… Read more »
Adrian Ambroz
Adrian Ambroz
I was issued a fixed penalty for parking in a lay bye next to Fryent Country Park on an event day at Wembley. This inspite of displaying a Residents Event Day permit which allows residents on event days to be able to park were its legal to park on a normal day. I appealed. On the day of appeal I took photographic evidence, documentary evidence & explained event day parking to the adjudicator. I also pointed out what a lay bye is supposed to be for and that even if I hadn’t a permit I should be allowed to park… Read more »
Russell Fryett
Russell Fryett
Don’t forget the yellow box junctions that London boroughs use as cash cows with sneaky video monitors. Read this: https://tfl.gov.uk/modes/driving/red-routes/rules-of-red-routes/yellow-box-junctions “We issue Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) to deter drivers from breaking the rules and causing a traffic jam. We don’t simply issue PCNs to raise revenue – we enforce the rules to help keep the traffic moving.” I had about a foot of the back of my car overhanging a huge one of these junctions (the woman ahead stopped way short of the car ahead) and they fined me, having dismissed my appeal for sanity and total lack of causing… Read more »
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