Road traffic law can be complex and the internet is full of inaccurate information. Most laws apply to all drivers but there are some that apply just to new ones. A new driver is someone who is in their “probationary period” and that is a period that runs exactly two years from the date you pass your test. Most newly qualified drivers are young but the law applies whatever your age.
Some road traffic offences result in a straight disqualification but many lead to penalty points. You need to understand how this works.
• If you get 6 or more penalty points as a result of offences committed in your probationary period your licence will be automatically revoked and you won’t be able to drive. You will have to apply for a new provisional licence and retake the theory and practical tests. You should be very careful to note the exact date you passed your test because even offences committed during the last few days of the two year period will count against you.
• The penalties for mobile phone/device use have just increased from 3 to 6 points, so if you even pick it up you risk having your licence revoked. If you have an accident because you are distracted by your phone the penalties are far more severe and include prison. My advice is don’t do it. The police are really hot on this now.
• Speeding offences carry a minimum of 3 points and so two modest ones in two years will lead to a licence revocation. Fines for serious speeding offences have just been increased and the courts are treating them much more harshly. You can also be disqualified for speeding even if it’s your first offence. This will also result in a big increase in your insurance premium.
• Check you are properly insured for the type of driving you do and extend it for work if you need to. It’s your responsibility to check you have proper insurance. Many new drivers use cars that are in a family pool policy, where someone else makes the arrangements. If that person makes a mistake and the car is not insured, you will be responsible. If you are not insured properly your car will be impounded by the police and driving without insurance carries 6 penalty points. That will lead to licence revocation. So just check it’s all in order.
• Don’t try and guess how much alcohol you can drink and stay under the legal limit. It varies from person to person and guessing is risky. It’s not difficult to be just over the limit, even if you feel ok. Again, the best advice is don’t do it. You will be banned for at least 12 months with a criminal record that could be a problem with job applications and travel abroad. The cost of insurance will shoot up and you may not be able to afford to drive again for a long time.
David Barton can be contacted on 01580 292409 or 07876 711708 and see his website motorists-lawyer.co.uk