The Ultimate Guide To Motoring Convictions and Insurance
Most drivers understand that motoring convictions, of whatever type, can affect their ability to obtain motor insurance. Not only do insurance costs tend to rise dramatically after a conviction; some individuals, particularly young drivers, can find it impossible to obtain any insurance at all. These problems relate to the algorithms used by most insurance companies to calculate future risk. To put it simply, individuals with driving convictions are deemed to be at a higher risk of involvement in accidents, and insurance costs reflect this.
Do I Need To Disclose Convictions To My Insurer?
In short, yes. However, as of April 2013, you don’t have to declare your unspent convictions when applying for or renewing your car insurance, unless an insurer asks you about them. This includes everyone covered by the policy, so make sure you have details handy of any named drivers. If asked and you fail to disclose unspent convictions, your insurance could be invalid. If you’re not asked about unspent convictions, you should still check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy. It is, of course, not possible for a motorist with driving convictions to attempt to dodge the issue by failing to declare their full driving history. Not declaring convictions risks invalidating any insurance obtained. Aside from the potential financial implications, driving without valid insurance cover is itself an offence. That said, like most non-driving related convictions, driving-related convictions eventually become ‘spent’. Exactly when this happens, and the effect it has, depends on the offence.
Any driving offence can result in a fine and an endorsement on the motorist’s driving licence. Each endorsement has a corresponding code and results in the imposition of between one and eleven penalty points. Offence codes and penalty points alike go onto the driver’s record. The new paperless system means that individuals can view their driving licence online to see what penalty points they have and when they will be removed. Building up twelve or more penalty points within a three-year period leads to automatic disqualification from driving. Drivers who are within two years of passing their test can only accumulate six penalty points before being disqualified from driving. Although penalty points drop off a licence for ‘totting up’ purposes after three years, they remain on the motorist’s driving record for between four and eleven years, depending on the offence code.
Unfortunately, to add to the complexity of the situation, an endorsement may become ‘spent’ under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act, before it comes off the motorist’s driving record. This can have undesirable consequences in several ways but can particularly affect insurance applications.
What Happens If I Get More Than One Conviction?
If more than one sentence or penalty is imposed at the same time, the longer sentence determines the rehabilitation period. For example, if a driver was given a fine (usual rehabilitation period 1 year) AND disqualified from driving for 4 years, the conviction would not become spent until the rehabilitation period of 4 years relating to the disqualification had ended.
New Convictions Before an Old One Becomes Spent
If you already have an unspent conviction, and you get another conviction before the first one is spent, then neither conviction becomes spent until the rehabilitation period for both offences ends. If your second conviction results in a custodial sentence of more than 4 years, then neither the first nor the second conviction ever becomes spent.
Some driving offences occur more frequently than others, we’ve outline the most commonly seen ones, and how some of them may affect drivers when it comes to taking out a new insurance policy or renewing an existing one.
Many drivers speed at one time or another, whether inadvertently or not. Many speeding offences are dealt with via fixed penalty notices, which are an alternative to prosecution before the magistrates’ court. They are not criminal convictions or cautions.
SP30 – Exceeding the Statutory Speed Limit on a Public Road
This offence will result in the imposition of between three and six penalty points and a fine. The endorsement code must remain on the offender’s driving licence for a period of four years from the date of the offence.
SP50 – Exceeding the Speed Limit on a Motorway
As with SP30, this offence will result in the imposition of between three and six penalty points and a fine. Again, the endorsement code must remain on the offender’s driving licence for a period of four years from the date of the offence.
Other speeding offences include exceeding the speed limit for the type of vehicle (excluding goods or passenger vehicles) and exceeding a passenger-vehicle speed limit.
Construction and Use Offences CU80 – Breach of Requirements as to the Control of a Vehicle, such as Using a Mobile Phone
This is an offence that has received considerable recent publicity. It makes it unlawful to use a handheld phone while driving, whether this is to make or receive a call, send or read a text or email, or to utilise any other of the phone’s functions.
Anyone using a handheld phone while supervising a learner driver is also committing an offence. Offenders can expect to receive between three and six penalty points, as well as a fine.
Although using a mobile phone as a satnav is not necessarily treated as using a mobile for the purposes of CU80, it may risk a driver facing charges of careless or dangerous driving, or of not being in proper control of their vehicle. It’s best to avoid having your mobile phone in your eyeline while driving, to avoid any ambiguity if caught with a visible device.
For more information on driving while using a mobile phone, check out our informative blog post: Your Guide to Using Your Mobile Phone at the Wheel.
CU30 – Using a Vehicle with a Defective Tyre or Tyres
All tyres on a motor vehicle must have a minimum tread depth, must be inflated to the correct pressure and must be free from any structural defects, such as cuts and tears. This requirement also extends to the vehicle’s spare tyre.
Drink Driving Offences
Drink driving penalties can be severe. Depending on the type and gravity of the offence, imprisonment, an uncapped fine and a driving ban are all possible repercussions. An offender can also expect to receive between three and eleven penalty points.
DR10 – Driving, or Attempting to Drive, with Alcohol Level above Limit
This is the most common drink driving conviction. Any drink driving offence is a matter for the magistrates’ court and any conviction is a criminal one. The potential ramifications of driving while under the influence of alcohol are reflected in the penalties. Certain high-risk offenders must also pass a medical examination before getting their licence back.
Although there is a legal drink drive level, it is not possible to assess one’s own blood, breath or urine alcohol level without specialist equipment. Moreover, the amount of alcohol it takes to put an individual person over the limit varies widely and can be influenced by their sex, age, weight and metabolism, as well as what and how much alcohol they have drunk, when they last ate and their emotional state. It is always safest to abstain from alcohol when driving.
In England and Wales, the limit is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres of urine. In most other European countries, including Scotland, the limit is lower.
How Does a Drink-Driving Conviction Affect My Insurance?
If you’ve been convicted of drink-driving, you’ll likely have been issued with one of the following insurance codes: DR10, DR30, DR40, DR50 or DR70. If this is the case, you may struggle to find affordable car insurance for some time following your conviction, especially if you received a driving ban. The length of time these convictions impact your car insurance for depends on the code itself, any driving bans, your age and how long you have been driving. This could only reduce after a few years without repeat offences.
Read more on our blog post Drink-Driving: Here’s What You Need to Know for additional information.
Drug Driving Offences
The limits that apply to drug driving offences depend on the type of drug taken. Any trace of certain illegal substances automatically classes a driver as over the limit. Several prescription drugs can also make it illegal to drive. This is information that should be made clear when the medication is prescribed, but anyone in doubt is advised to consult their doctor before driving. Drug driving offences are punished by a driving ban of a minimum of one year, an unlimited fine, up to six months in prison and between three and eleven penalty points. Needless to say, the offence also attracts a criminal record.
DISQUALIFIED DRIVER OFFENCES
BA10 – Driving while Disqualified by Order of Court
Disqualification from driving for a certain period of time usually follows a number of offences, including drink driving and driving while under the influence of drugs. Driving while disqualified attracts a further six penalty points. The endorsement will remain on the offender’s driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
The rise of technology and online databases makes it easy for the police to check the insurance status of any vehicle. Checks may even happen on the roadside.
IN10 – Using a Vehicle Uninsured against Third-Party Risks
This carries six to eight penalty points, and the endorsement will stay on the driving record for four years from the date of the offence. Anyone who uses a vehicle that is uninsured against third-party risks may also have their vehicle impounded by the police. This happens to over 1,000 drivers every week, many of whom did not realise that they were uninsured. The driver of an impounded vehicle will receive a seizure notice, which lists the documents needed for having the car returned. This includes a driving licence, proof of ownership and an insurance cover note. While the first two are usually easy to provide, it is necessary to obtain specialist insurance that covers impounded vehicles. This should be done quickly, as the police are only required to keep an impounded car for a minimum of seven days before they can sell or scrap it.
All the requested documents must be presented at the police station. If they are correct, and match the information on the Police National Computer and the Motor Insurance Database, the seizure notice will be stamped. The driver then has a further seven days in which to reclaim their vehicle on payment of any necessary costs, which can be high.
TRAFFIC DIRECTION AND SIGNS OFFENCES
This group of offences covers a relatively wide area, including inappropriate use of box junctions, failure to adhere to stop signs and running red traffic lights. The latter is perhaps the most frequent offence under this section. Drivers can guard against falling foul of a traffic direction and signs offence by ensuring that they are up to date on the Highway Code and by paying close attention to the road around them.
TS10 – Failing to Comply with Traffic Light Signals
This offence carries three penalty points and the endorsement will stay on the driving record for four years from the date it took place. Convictions are easy to obtain, due to the proliferation of traffic light cameras monitoring junctions.
CARELESS DRIVING OFFENCES
There are a variety of careless driving offences, ranging from driving without due care and attention to even more serious offences, such as causing death through careless driving when unfit through drink.
CD10 – Driving without Due Care and Attention
Driving without due care and attention carries three to nine penalty points and the endorsement code must stay on the individual’s driving record for eleven years from the date of the conviction. The same potential penalty applies to driving without reasonable consideration for other road users (CD20) and also to driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users (CD30).
DANGEROUS DRIVING OFFENCES
Often considered to be among the most serious of motoring offences, dangerous driving is rightly taken extremely seriously, particularly when someone is killed as a result.
DD40 – Dangerous Driving
This offence carries a possible prison sentence, a minimum period of disqualification from driving and the likelihood of an extended retest, as well as three to eleven penalty points and an endorsement that must stay on the individual’s driving record for four years from the date of the conviction. It will also impact significantly on future insurance premiums.
Other driving offences are less common and consequently often pose fewer obstacles when it comes to insurance issues. They include:
These include failing to stop after an accident and failing to give particulars of an accident or report it within 24 hours of it occurring. Offenders committing either of these offences will receive between five and ten penalty points. Offenders who commit an undefined accident offence will receive between four and nine penalty points. Anyone committing any accident offence will carry the relevant endorsement code on their driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
They include driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence. Licence-related offences carry three to six penalty points and the relevant endorsement codes must stay on the offender’s driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
Pedestrian Crossings Offences
These offences include a contravention of pedestrian crossing regulations with a moving or stationary vehicle. They carry three penalty points and the relevant endorsement codes must stay on the offender’s driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
Special and Miscellaneous Offences
These offences include leaving a vehicle in a dangerous position and refusing to submit to an eyesight test. They carry between two and eleven penalty points, depending on the nature of the offence and the relevant endorsement codes must stay on the offender’s driving record for four years from the date of the offence.
HOW COMPLETE COVER GROUP CAN HELP
If you have received a motoring conviction of any type, or you have one pending, insurance is not necessarily going to be at the forefront of your mind. However, as anyone who has ever tried to buy insurance following any kind of driving offence knows, at best, you can expect a rise in premiums. At worst, you can be refused insurance.
Fortunately, this is an issue that sections of the insurance market have woken up to. At Complete Cover Group, we do not assume that a motoring conviction automatically makes a driver unworthy of future insurance or necessitates charging very high premiums. Treating every driver as an individual, we have a panel of specialist insurers who share our belief that past convictions are not necessarily a prediction of future driving behaviour.
Consequently, we can help you access the best insurance policies and rates currently on the market. We can provide you with comprehensive insurance or a third party, fire and theft policy – and always with reputable insurers you can trust. We even have specific insurance schemes to cover drivers who have the most common motoring-related convictions, including driving while disqualified, driving without due care and attention and speeding offences. Find out how Complete Cover Group can help drivers with motoring convictions find great value, specialist insurance here.
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