Motoring convictions and the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act

Help us – As part of our policy work we’re working on stopping the sharing of spent motoring convictions by the DVLA

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.

Motoring endorsements

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 policy@unlock.org.uk.

Penalty points

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.

Driving disqualifications

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.

If you are banned from driving for seven years and also fined and receive an endorsement on your licence, although the fine becomes spent after 1 year, and the endorsement is spent after 5 years, the rehabilitation period for the conviction would be 7 years.

Motoring fines

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.

If you go to court and get convicted with a sentence of a fine, an endorsement, penalty points and a 1 year driving disqualification, the conviction will become spent after 5 years because the endorsement carries the longest period.

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:

  1. Exceeding the speed limit
  2. Failing to provide a specimen of breath for a breath test
  3. Failing to stop motor vehicle when required by constable
  4. 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.

If you are fined for drink-driving and have your licence endorsed and receive 3 penalty points, the rehabilitation period would be five years (because of the endorsement), although it will stay on your driving licence for 11 years.

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..

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  • shelly

    I was for convicted driving whilst disqualified. This offence is now ‘spent’ and is no longer on my driving licence however this offence appears on my DBS.

  • Debbie S – Unlock Helpline

    Hi Shelly

    Although your conviction is spent, if you are applying for a job that requires a DBS check, then these are usually exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and will be disclosed on both Standard and Enhanced checks. However, if this is the only conviction you have and it did not result in a prison sentence, then it would be eligible for filtering from your Certificate after 11 years.

    Hope this helps.

  • John James

    Most people need to drive, only the Rich can mitigate the affects of an 11 year motoring endorsement. Which other crime carries such a punishment? Murder is treated less harshly. The ramifications for employment have a hugely disproportionate impact for people who have to actually work for a living.

    You say Motoring Endorsements is an area you’re working on, and are keen to gather evidence of where they are having a disproportionate impact for people. Are you planning a Legal Challenge?

    I would have thought there were multiple Legal Precedents that would indicate the way Motoring Endorsements are being treated as sacrosanct in these new ROA revisions is highly questionable if not illegal. How can a company dictate the law that benefits them directly? It’s almost like the Police have been working For the Insurance Industry to manipulate Insurance Premiums in the market for higher profits for Insurance companies. Insurance is The Biggest Scam on the face of the Earth.

  • Paul

    I had a 12 month ban in Nov 2010 (reduced to 9 months after doing the awareness course). A fine also.. no points. Is my conviction now spent? I was expecting it to be spent in November this year.

  • Mike Adenuga

    Can someone please reply to Paul’s question as I’m in a similar situation. I was convicted of DR10 in November 2010, disqualified from driving for 13 months (Originally 17 months but reduced on completion of Drink Drive Awareness Course) and fined £100. When does my conviction becomes ‘spent’ please?

  • Michal Krzych

    So here’s a story on Admiral Insurance and how they illegally have increased my premium by 37% for SPENT points they digged up on my old policy from a previous.

    I bought a premium about a month ago from Admiral by using Confused.com. They’ve quoted me for something like £680 per year payable in advance which I have paid on that day. This will be the third year in a row with Admiral and earlier there were no problems. Generally I have already been driving for over 10 years and in the UK I have got four years of discounts.

    Yesterday morning, I get an mail from them saying that they’re increasing my policy by £250 because I have 3 points for speeding from 2012! Well, those points are exactly from 01/03/2012 and are now SPENT (3 years was 10 months ago which expired in March of last year – 2015)). I didn’t tell them about the endorsment as I am not required by law to tell them about any already SPENT points. They only use that information to place you in a higher risk assesment bracket and over-charge you as potentially dangerous driver!? Come on 3 one off random speeding points from 4 years ago!! I have been already punished for it and been paying higher premiums for the last 3 years, points are gone so why the hell they want to punish me further by using a loophole. Fuckers scraped the old policy I had with them and added it automatically to my new policy… SCAM and FRAUD IN BROAD DAYLIGHT!

    Logging on https://www.gov.uk/check-driving-information clearly says that I have 0 points. I did call them and quoted the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which basically says that SPENT/expired point are expired and I have no obligation to inform anyone about them. SPENT means it’s gone and it’s totally different from the rehabiliation period ( 5 years ).

    They did not agree to reduce this crazy amount of £250, 37% increase. They’ve got my card details on file so will be charing me the extra £250 within a few days.

    The case I described is already reported to the Financial Ombudsman and news papers but haven’t had any replies yet as I am typing this.

    Anyone knows of a lawyer who wants to represent me in court against this fraud by Admiral?

  • Apleyrd David

    Hi Michal. I have the same situation right now with Admiral – I’m in the pursuit of challenging this with legal action – once i have informed the Ombudsman, did they rectify this for you in the end?

  • adam spencer

    what you might find is when you complete a quote they will ask you if you have had any motoring offences within the last 5 years. by choosing not to include the spent points as they are no longer on the licence they will see it as deliberate non disclosure unless the underwriters believe it was a genuine accident. otherwise your policy can be voided. the reason the ombudsman will not be able to overturn this is the insurance company ask you upfront. it is then your choice to ignore it and not tell them, tell them or insure elsewhere and if you go with the former they can either void the policy alltogether or back date and charge you. its not a case of breaking the law as it is part of the criteria they ask you before they offer you a policy