Having three penalty points on your licence adds £209 per year to your insurance premium, according to new research.

In total, this results in a figure of over £230 million being added to car insurance costs throughout the country, as over 2.6 million UK motorists have penalty points on their licences.

What are penalty points?

If you’re convicted of a motoring offence, the courts can endorse your driving record with penalty points. The general rule is that the more serious the offence, the more points you’ll get.

If you get too many penalty points within a certain time period, you could be banned from driving. Depending on the offence, the endorsements must stay on your driving record for four to eleven years.

How do you get penalty points?

According to the most recent Department for Transport data available (from 2017 to 2019), 72% of penalty points come from speeding violations. 12% of endorsements were given for licence, insurance and record-keeping offences and 4% of penalty points were a result of dangerous or drunken driving.

Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at comparethemarket.com, who conducted the research, said: “It comes as no surprise that speeding is by far the most common reason for points being added to licences.”

The minimum penalty for speeding is a £100 fine and three penalty points. If you are at the low-end of speeding crime, you may be able to take a four-hour National Speed Awareness Course instead of having three points on your licence. Ultimately, it’s up to the courts to decide how to fine you and endorse your driving record.

As well as speeding, you can also be assigned penalty points for:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Driving without car insurance.
  • Failing to stop after an accident.
  • Dangerous driving.
  • Using a mobile phone while driving.
  • Driving a vehicle with defects.
  • Careless driving.
  • Driving while disqualified (the penalties are even higher if you cause death or serious injury whilst doing so).

How penalty points affect your driving licence

Penalty points remain on your driving record for four to eleven years, depending on the offence.

If you’re assigned more than 12 points within three years, you’ll be disqualified from driving. The general rules on driving bans are as follows:

  • Six months ban for 12 or more points in three years.
  • One-year ban for your second disqualification in a three-year period.
  • Two-year ban for your third disqualification in a three-year period.

After your driving ban, you’ll then have to go through the costs and time of retaking your driving test and securing a new driving licence.

There are further punishments if you are disqualified from driving within two years of passing your driving test. Your point limit is for the first two years (i.e. your probation period) is six – so if you acquire six points in the two years, you’ll be banned from driving and you’ll have to reapply to take both your practical driving test and theory test.

Fortunately, according to research, almost 75% of drivers with points on their licences said that receiving points made them change their driving habits to be safer on the road.

How penalty points affect your insurance premiums

As stated above, having penalty points on your licence also increases your insurance premiums. The more points on your licence, the higher the cost of your car insurance. Premiums rise in this way because motorists with points on their licences are considered to be riskier drivers.

According to research, if a driver steps up to six points on their licence, insurance premiums increase by more than £400 to an average of £1,159. On the tail end of the spectrum, those with 12 points on their licence have an average premium of £1,446.

Hutson said: “One of the many ways that insurers analyse risk is the number of penalty points that you have on your licence and those statistics put in to focus the serious impact that irresponsible driving can have on a policy.

“Those with points on their licence are usually considered more likely to be in an accident, and therefore pay more for their policy. Our research shows that drivers aged over 40 are more likely to have points on their licence.

“While we have seen a substantial decline in car journeys because of lockdown restrictions, it’s concerning that the number of drivers with penalty points has remained roughly the same as in the previous year.

“Beyond the obvious safety concerns, drivers should hopefully be incentivised by the financial impact to take care when on the road or risk being charged a significantly more for cover.”

How to remove penalty points from your licence

Unfortunately, it’s a waiting game. Penalty points will not be removed from your licence until they expire. If endorsements aren’t automatically removed upon expiration, you can contact the DVLA.

You can also view your driving record and check your points on the gov.uk website. You’ll need your driving licence number and national insurance number. Fortunately, it won’t cost you anything when expired points are removed from your licence.

Penalty points – The figures

A report in 2021 reported that over 2.6 million UK motorists have penalty points on their licence.

This figure breaks down to 1.9 million drivers having three penalty points; 517,000 drivers having six and 84,000 having nine. A further 5,806 have 12 and 3,075 have more than 13 points. This is according to Compare the Market’s analysis of the DVLA’s latest figures published in March 2021.

Now that you know more about penalty points, it’s a good idea to stick to the rules of the road to avoid hefty fines and driving bans. Shop for your next car here.