Why is this important?
The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act applies to a number of areas of life, but particularly employment and insurance.
Motoring convictions are treated slightly strangely under the ROA, when compared with other types of offences.
Sadly, the way that endorsements are treated under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act has not been changed by the 2014 changes. This was in large part because of resistance by the insurance industry. Unfortunately, the knock-on effect of this is that it means that they also remain unspent for other purposes, such as when applying for employment. This is an area that we are actively working on, and are keen to gather evidence of where this is having a disproportionate impact for people.
The result is that an endorsement imposed by a court for a road traffic offence is treated as a sentence under the ROA and becomes spent after 5 years (or two and half years where you are under 18).
Every endorsement has a minimum 5 year rehabilitation period. This is even the case for endorsements that only remain on your driving licence for 4 years. The length of the endorsement is irrelevant. Endorsements that remain on a licence for 11 years do not stop the conviction relating to the offence from becoming spent earlier, subject to the other elements of the sentence.
This also applies to endorsements issued by way of Fixed Penalty Notice for a road traffic offence listed in Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (see below for more information).
There remains a lot of confusion about the way that motoring convictions are being dealt with under the ROA, particularly given the way that motoring offences are recorded (or not) on the Police National Computer, and what this means in practice for individuals in terms of applying for employment and insurance. We are working on some specific guidance on this, so if you have any information or experiences that you think would help with this guidance, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Penalty points imposed by a court become spent when they cease to have effect. Under road traffic legislation, penalty points may be taken into account for ‘totting up’ purposes for three years, hence they have a three year rehabilitation period.
However, it is our understanding that penalty points are only ever issued alongside an endorsement, and so the 5 year period for the endorsement will normally be more relevant.
The rehabilitation period for a driving disqualification is the length of the disqualification. If you are disqualified from driving and at the same time receive another penalty, the longer of the two rehabilitation periods applies.
Driving disqualifications will normally come with an endorsement, so the 5 year period for the endorsement will be applied, unless the period of the disqualification was longer than 5 years, in which case that period will be used to determine the spent date.
A fine on its own under the ROA is 1 year, but for motoring offences dealt with by way of a court imposed conviction, it will normally come along with an endorsement, which has a 5 year rehabilitation period.
Multiple motoring disposals
Where the court imposes more than one sentence or penalty for the offence then the longest rehabilitation period determines when the conviction may become spent.
Fixed penalty notices for road traffic offences
A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) can be used to deal with minor road traffic offences, but it is not a criminal conviction or a caution.
However, if you are given an FPN for a road traffic offence in Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, and your licence is endorsed, then (in line with s. 58 of that Act) the endorsement is treated as having been given by a court following conviction of the offence and is subject to a 5 year rehabilitation period, from the date the FPN was issued.
A full list of the offences covered by this are available here. Examples include:
- Exceeding the speed limit
- Failing to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test
- Failing to stop motor vehicle when required by constable
- Refusing to give, or giving false, name and address in cases of reckless, careless or inconsiderate driving or cycling
Where section 58 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act does not apply, an FPN is not a conviction. FPN’s do not appear on basic disclosure certificates.
Differences between endorsable and non-endorsable offences
Regardless of whether an offence was dealt with by FPN or whether it went to court, it is important to know whether the offence was an ‘endorseable’ or ‘non-endorsable’ offence, as this will determine whether your licence was endorsed and therefore whether the offence is subject to the 5 year rehabilitation period for endorsements.
We are planning to produce specific guidance on this shortly. In the meantime, the easiest way to find out if you received an endorsement on your licence is by checking with the DVLA. You can contact the DVLA by calling 0300 790 6801 or writing to Drivers Customer Services, Correspondence Team, DVLA, Swansea, SA6 7JL.
Differences between spent periods and licence periods
The length of time that motoring offences stay on your licence is governed by road traffic legislation. This is entirely separate to the time it takes for it to become spent under the ROA. It is perfectly possible for a motoring conviction to become spent under the ROA, but still be on your licence.
There remains some confusion around motoring offences, the ways in which they link with your criminal record, and the reasons for the DVLA retaining data once it is spent under the ROA. For further information about DVLA records see here..