The length of time penalty points stay on your driving licence is a much more complicated subject than it seems. Here we explain the basics, and what the law could mean for you.
How it works
Different driving offences carry different amounts of endorsements or penalty points, ranging from 3 to 11. Depending on the nature of your offence, these points will have to stay on your driving record for either 4 or 11 years. Some of the most common examples include:
Careless driving: 3 to 9 points (4 years)
Breaking the speed limit: 3 to 6 points (4 years)
Driving without insurance: 6 to 8 points (4 years)
Drink driving: 3 to 11 points (11 years)
A full list of driving offences and the penalties they incur can be found here.
Endorsements can start from either the date of your conviction or the date on which you committed the offence.
If you build up 12 or more points within a three-year period, you will automatically be banned from driving for six months. New drivers have to retake their tests if they get 6 or more points within their first two years of driving.
Driving laws in Northern Ireland are slightly different to the rest of the UK; more information can be found here.
How long are points valid for?
This is where it gets complicated. A 4-year endorsement is only “valid” for the first 3 years, while an 11-year endorsement is only “valid” for the first 10. During the last year they remain on your licence, they don’t count towards your points total; however, they can be taken into account in court if you commit another offence within that year.
How can an endorsement affect you?
Obviously it means you’ll have to drive more carefully if you want to avoid accruing more points and ending up with a driving ban. In addition, information about your endorsement is available for the whole term of a 4-year endorsement, or the first 5 years of an 11-year endorsement. That means employers can know about it, as can your insurance company. However, after these times the conviction is considered “spent” and legally you cannot receive less favourable treatment as a result of a spent conviction. So even though your insurance company still has the right to ask about previous endorsements, once they’re spent, you are legally entitled to the same terms as other drivers.