Friday 16 August 2013 sees the introduction of new UK police powers to issue on-the-spot Fixed Penalty Notices for a series of ‘careless driving’ offences.
These are aimed at tackling anti-social driving behaviour such as hogging the middle-lane of the motorway, undertaking and tailgating. But they aren’t the only changes taking place.
At the same time, the cost of all existing Fixed Penalty Notices is being increased, with £30 fines rising to £50 and £60 fines rising to £100. This means you’ll pay more if you get caught speeding, for example (was £60 and three points, now £100 and three points).
However, don’t think the introduction of fixed penalty points and fines means careless drivers will automatically escape facing charges and larger penalties in court – the most serious offenders will still be prosecuted in this manner.
But what it does mean is that the police now have the power to take immediate action against drivers they feel are behaving irresponsibly.
Here’s the breakdown of the new fine structure, and the latest definition of motoring offences that could see you facing a Fixed Penalty Notice – including points on your driving licence
What is a Fixed Penalty Notice?
A Fixed Penalty Notice is a standardised form of punishment involving at least a fine, issued for a variety of offences. For drivers, this now ranges from £50 for a “non-endorsable” offence to £300 for the “endorsable” offence of driving without third party insurance.
Who can issue a Fixed Penalty Notice?
Fixed Penalty Notices can be issued on-the-spot by police officers, or – as is often the case with speeding or red light offences where a camera has caught the transgression – you might receive the notice via the post.
Non-police Traffic Officers cannot issue Fixed Penalty Notices. But they may report your behaviour.
What is the difference between Non-Endorsable and Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice motoring offences?
Endorsements refer to penalty points on your licence. Some Fixed Penalty Notices carry an automatic endorsement as well as a set fine – but not all of them.
Those that don’t are called Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices, and are aimed at milder offences that under these latest changes are punished by a fixed fine of between £50 and £100.
Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices carry at least a three-point licence penalty and now a £100 fine. But if you fail to identify the driver when asked you’ll be facing a £200 fine while anyone caught driving without insurance will be looking at a £300 fine; both offences come with at least six points on your licence.
What is the fine for a Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice?
Under the new rule changes, Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice that used to carry a £30 fine are now £50, while those that used to carry a £60 fine are now £100.
What driving offences are covered by Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices?
These are some examples of Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices with a £50 fine given by the Department for Transport (note that they are examples, not a comprehensive list):
- Neglect of traffic regulations (e.g. failing to conform to traffic signs – give way, roundabout vehicle priority, box junction road markings)
- Negligent use of motor vehicle (e.g. not in proper control, driver not having full view ahead, opening door as to cause injury)
- Vehicle registration and excise licence offences (e.g. not displaying tax disc, registration mark not easily readable)
- Motorway offences (e.g. stopping vehicle on hard shoulder)
- Vehicle or Part in Dangerous of defective condition (e.g. windows not clear and unobstructed, no windscreen wipers)
- Neglect of Pedestrian Rights (e.g. driving elsewhere than on the road)
- Lighting offences (e.g. lamps not showing steady light, misuse of head/fog lamps)
- Noise offences (e.g. causing unnecessary noise, sounding horn at night)
- Load offences (e.g. exceeding weight restriction)
- Cycle and motorcycle offences (e.g. cycle on foot path, not wearing protective headgear for motorcyclists)
While these are the examples given on Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices with a £100 fine:
- Failure to wear a seat belt whilst driving
- Vehicle test offence (use of motor vehicle without test certificate)
- Miscellaneous offences (failure to display vehicle licence)
What is the fine for an Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notice?
Broadly speaking the fine for Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices used to be £60 and is now £100 – although there are two offences that carry heavier punishment: failure to identify the driver (was £120, now £200) and driving without insurance (was £200, now £300).
What driving offences are covered by £100 Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices?
The examples given by the Department for Transport of Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices that now carry a £100 fine (again, note that this isn’t necessarily a complete list):
- Using a mobile phone whilst driving
- Speeding offences
- Motorway offences (e.g. reversing on a motorway, driving on hard shoulder/central reservation)
- Neglect of traffic directions (e.g. not stopping at red traffic light)
- Neglect of Pedestrian Rights (e.g. stopping within limits of zebra/pelican/puffin crossing)
- Load offences (e.g. danger of injury due to number of passengers or manner in which they are carried)
- Motorcycle offences (e.g. carrying more than one passenger)
Where do the new careless driving Fixed Penalty Notices fit in?
The new ‘careless driving’ offences that are currently making headlines are all subject to Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices at the £100 level.
What kinds of careless driving offences will be punished by the new Fixed Penalty Notices?
These are examples of careless driving offences given to MSN Cars by the Department for Transport that would be punishable under the new Fixed Penalty Notice scheme; they’re described as “low level” careless driving:
- Driving too close to another vehicle (e.g. tailgaiting)
- Lane discipline (e.g. staying in the wrong lane – note that this doesn’t just refer to middle-lane hogging but also misuse of the outside and other motorway lanes)
- Wrong lane at a roundabout
- Overtaking and pushing into an orderly queue (note that it is unclear whether this would apply to ‘filtering’ in situations where there is a lane closed on the motorway)
- Failing to give way at a junction (not causing evasive action by another driver – instances causing evasive action would be dealt with by the courts, see below)
- Ignoring a lane closed sign
- Inappropriate speed
- Wheel spins
- Hand brake turns
How will the new careless driving rules be defined and enforced?
This is an interesting question – especially in light of some of the examples above. Here is what the Department for Transport explains:
“The FPN [Fixed Penalty Notice] would only be offered in situations where there has been no collision, no victims or public complaint. Also, the offence must be witnessed by [a] Police Officer.”
The Department for Transport also confirmed:
“More serious examples of careless driving behaviours involving collisions and situations of aggressive driving where other drivers are endangered (e.g. fast overtakes and lane hopping, with other drivers having to evade), would continue to be dealt with by the courts.”