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What are the UK's most common driving offences?

  • What are the UK's most common driving offences?

Here are the top 10 driving offences that motorists in the UK are most likely to commit

With so many laws in place to keep motorists and other road users safe, it’s inevitable that some will be broken — and there are some rules that are flouted more than others! In 2021, over 15 million driving offences were recorded in total; that’s a lot of rule-breaking. 

Here we’ll take a look at some of the most common offences committed by UK motorists, which can result in anything from points on your licence to full-blown driving bans and even prison sentences. 

The UK’s most common driving offences

1. Speeding

It may come as no surprise going faster than the speed limit is the number one offence committed by motorists in the UK, with cameras set up all around the country to catch speeding drivers in the act. 

If the offence is considered minor (which generally means that you were over the speed limit by less than 10% of it) and at the authority’s discretion, you may be offered a speed awareness course in place of points. If not, you could be looking at a fine of £100 and 3 points on your licence - or worse, if your offence was more serious. 

2. Using a mobile phone 

Our handheld devices are a distraction at the best of times, but when you’re behind the wheel, there’s no margin for interference with your concentration - this is why mobiles are banned whilst driving. However, it’s still the second most committed offence, and punishments include a £200 on-the-spot fine if caught, and up to 6 points on your driving licence. 

3. Careless driving 

Careless driving sits above dangerous driving, and is classed as driving that falls below the standard expected of careful and competent drivers. This is seen as driving without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for others, and includes (but is not limited to) actions such as tailgating, undertaking, and lane hogging. 

Fines for this behaviour, whether you meant to do it or not, range from £100 to £2,500, depending on the nature and severity of the careless driving offence. 

4. Dangerous driving 

Less common than careless driving but still frequently committed, dangerous driving is a level up — it’s classed as driving that falls far below the standard expected of careful and competent drivers. This could include (but is not limited to) racing, driving aggressively, or ignoring road signs and signals - anything that puts the lives of others at risk, essentially.

Penalties for dangerous driving depend on any consequences of those actions and could include large fines, bans, and prison sentences.  

5. Driving under the influence of drink or drugs 

Your reactions need to be quick and sharp to remain safe when driving, and alcohol and drugs are not conducive to this - hence why it’s illegal to drive when you’ve consumed over the legal limit of alcohol, which is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milligrams of blood.

Drink and drug driving offences are, unfortunately, a common occurrence for the police to handle, and a typical punishment is a disqualification, fine, and, in some cases, a jail term.  

6. Driving while disqualified

For some, an offence that gets you disqualified isn’t enough, and they proceed to make things a whole lot worse for themselves and everyone else by driving whilst already disqualified. Doing so could result in an extended qualification, a trip to court, and potentially a jail sentence. 

7. Driving while uninsured

By law, all UK motorists must be insured on the car that they’re driving, whether it’s a full comprehensive policy, or third-party, theft and fire cover. Failure to do so is an offence, and a commonly committed one too. 

If you’re found to be driving whilst uninsured, you could be landed with a £300 fine and up to 6 points on your licence. More serious consequences await those who choose to repeatedly do this, including larger fines, or even a driving ban. 

8. Driving a defective vehicle 

MOTs are legally required on an annual basis for a reason - to keep occupants of the car, and those around them, safe by ensuring that each vehicle on the road meets safe standards. If your vehicle is found to be defective, such as having tread on your tyres of under 1.6mm, you could find yourself with a £100 fine. 

9. Driving a stolen vehicle 

Pretty serious, right? Yet it still happens a lot. Also known as joyriding, taking a vehicle that’s not yours without permission comes with very serious consequences if caught, which include a £5000 fine, community order, and up to 6 months in prison. If joyriding caused harm to otherwise, the punishment will be even heftier. 

10. Leaving the scene of an accident 

Otherwise known as a hit and run, fleeing the scene of an accident that you were involved in is an offence, regardless of the severity of the impact. Coming your way if caught could be between five to ten points on your licence, a fine of up to £5,000 and potentially a prison sentence.