How long do points stay on your licence?

Speeding or driving while under the influence can have serious consequences. If you commit a motoring offence, it’s likely that you’ll get a fine and penalty points on your licence. But how long do the points stay on your licence and what impact could this have?

Speeding or driving while under the influence can have serious consequences. If you commit a motoring offence, it’s likely that you’ll get a fine and penalty points on your licence. But how long do the points stay on your licence and what impact could this have?

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
Reviewed by
Kate Hughes
Insurance expert
Last Updated
22 AUGUST 2022
6 min read
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How do I get penalty points on my driving licence? 

If you’re caught speeding or committing any other type of motoring offence, you could end up with a fine and your driving licence endorsed – which means points added to your licence.

Each motoring offence has an endorsement code. This code goes on your driving record and will determine how many penalty points you’ll get and how long they’ll stay on your licence.

Minor driving offences carry a minimum penalty of three points, but for the most serious offences like drink-driving you can expect to receive up to 11 points.

How long do penalty points stay on my licence? 

Penalty points can stay on your licence for four or 11 years depending on how serious the motoring offence was. These endorsements start either from the date the offence took place or from the day you’re convicted.

The table below shows examples of driving endorsements and how long they’ll stay on your record.

Offence Penalty points Years on licence
Speeding 3-6 4
Running a red light 3 4
Using a mobile phone while driving 3-6 4
Failing to stop after an accident 5-10 4
Driving without car insurance 6-8 4
Driving while disqualified 6 4
Dangerous driving 3-11 4
Drink-driving 3-11 11
Drug-driving 3-11 11
Causing death by careless driving through alcohol or drugs 3-11 11

If you have a four-year endorsement, the penalty points will only be active for the first three years. Even though they’ll stay on your licence for a further year, they won’t count towards your total points tally. But they will be taken into account by the courts if you commit another offence.

If you have an 11-year endorsement, the penalty points will be active for the first 10 years.

How else could penalty points affect me?

Getting points on your licence can have far-reaching implications. If you’re applying for a new job or you need car insurance while your endorsement is still active, insurance providers and employers can see whether your licence has penalty points on it. 

They can find out you have the endorsement over the following lengths of time: 

  • At any point during a four-year endorsement
  • At any time during the first five years of an 11-year endorsement, or the first two-and-a-half years if you’re under the age of 18.

This could lead to you missing out on job opportunities and having to pay more for your car insurance premiums.

What is ‘totting up’?

Totting up is when you commit other motoring offences, such as repeatedly speeding, and you end up with more points on your licence.

If you build (or tot up) 12 or more penalty points within three years, you could be disqualified from driving. You’ll get a summons in the post to go to court where you’ll be told the length of your driving ban. 

Your driving ban could last:

  • 6 months – if you get 12 or more points within three years
  • 12 months – if you get a second disqualification within three years
  • 2 years – if you get a third disqualification within three years.

Some of the rules on driving bans differ in Northern Ireland.

What happens if I’m a new driver?

As a new driver the last thing you’ll want is penalty points on your licence. If you get six points or more within two years of passing your test, your licence will be revoked – in other words, officially cancelled. You’ll need to apply and pay for a new provisional licence, then pass all parts of your driving test again to get a full licence.

If you’re a learner driver and you commit a driving offence, you can still get penalty points on your provisional licence. If you pass your test, any points that remain active on your provisional licence will be carried over to your full licence.

When will penalty points be removed from my licence?

The majority of penalty points and endorsement codes are automatically wiped from your licence when they expire.

If you want to check if you have any penalty points still active, you can view your licence details on the GOV.UK website.

Can I avoid penalty points on my licence? 

Apart from not committing an offence in the first place, there’s little you can do to avoid points if you’re caught breaking road laws. Having said that, if you’ve been caught speeding, it’s possible you could be offered a speed awareness course instead of points on your licence. But this will depend on how fast you were speeding and when you last attended a speed awareness course.

If you’ve been totting up penalty points – never a good thing – you might want to consider a black box car insurance policy. A telematics device fitted in your car monitors your driving habits and sends the information to your insurance provider.

It could help you become a safer driver and lower the risk of getting more penalty points on your licence. If you can demonstrate responsible driving, you might even get cheaper car insurance.

Frequently asked questions

How can I find out how many penalty points I have on my licence?

It’s easy to access your driving record online. Simply go to the ‘View my driving licence information’ page on the GOV.UK portal.

To check your penalty points, you’ll need:

  • Your driving licence number
  • Your national insurance number 
  • The postcode on your driving licence.

Do I need to tell my insurance provider if I get points?

You can often wait until your renewal date to tell your insurance provider about any penalty points you’ve received. But it’s always best to check your policy wording just in case you need to tell them straight away.

Points on your licence are likely to make your car insurance premiums higher, but it’s always best to be honest about them because providing inaccurate details may invalidate your policy.

How many points can I get on my licence?

There’s no limit to how many points you can get on your driving licence. Totting up 12 points or more within a three-year period usually results in a driving ban, but it’s possible to avoid disqualification if you can convince the courts that losing your licence would cause you ‘exceptional hardship’ like losing your job.

Some drivers have been known to rack up over 50 points and still kept their licence, but we’re not recommending you try to emulate this.

How long do I have to declare points for insurance?

Car insurance providers tend to keep driving offences on record for five years. When you apply for insurance they will ask whether you’ve had any driving-related convictions, endorsements, penalties, disqualifications or bans within this period.

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