Penalty Points and Totting Up

Penalty Points & Totting-Up (Sections 28 & 35 Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988)

Penalty points can be endorsed on your licence for a variety of offences. The actual number of points that may be endorsed on your driving licence will depend on the type and gravity of the offence in question.


The most common offences that attract penalty points include:


  • Speeding – 3 to 6 points
  • Driving without insurance – 6 to 8 points
  • Running a red light – 3 points
  • Mobile phone offence – 6 points
  • Careless driving – 3 to 9 points
  • Failing to stop after an accident – 5 to 10 points
  • Failing to report an accident – 5 to 10 points
  • Vehicle defects – 3 points Failing to identify the driver – 6 points


Totting Up

If a driver accumulates 12 or more points within a three-year period they will be disqualified for a minimum period of 6 months under the totting-up provisions. This period increases to 12 months if the driver has been previously disqualified and to two years if he has previously been disqualified on more than one occasion.


For totting-up purposes penalty points remain live for a period of three and what matters is the number of points that you have on your licence at the time of the offence. This means delaying a case until existing points are no longer live will make no difference as it is calculated from date of offence to date of offence to date of offence.


A disqualification under totting-up has the effect of wiping the slate clean so that when a driver reapplies for their licence all the points that led to the disqualification are removed.


New Drivers

If a new driver accumulates 6 or more points within the first two years of passing the, test their licence will be revoked by DVLA. They will also require to re-sit part of the driving test.


Fixed Penalty Notices

Points can be imposed by the court and also by accepting a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) or a Conditional Offer from the Procurator Fiscal’s office. A Fixed Penalty or Conditional Offer can only be accepted if you have 8 or less live points on your licence. If you have 9 or more live points you cannot accept a Fixed Penalty Notice. This is because a FPN is conditional and cannot be accepted if doing so would result in 12 points and disqualification under totting-up. In these circumstances, the FPN should be ignored. Thereafter, a court summons will be issued.


Avoiding a Totting Up Disqualification

Penalty points and disqualification under totting-up can be avoided if you can establish that there are special reasons for non-endorsement or that loss of your licence and the ability to drive will cause Exceptional Hardship. It may also be possible to persuade the court to impose a short-term period of disqualification rather than the minimum period of 6 months under totting-up.


Special Reasons

In some circumstances it may be possible to establish that there are special reasons why your licence should not be endorsed with penalty points. Special reasons must relate to the offence and explain why the offence was committed.


Exceptional Hardship

An application for exceptional hardship is an opportunity to establish that the loss of your licence and ability to drive will cause exceptional hardship. Unlike special reasons, exceptional hardship considers the impact that disqualification is likely to have on you and those around you.


Short Term Disqualification

In some circumstances it may be possible to persuade the court to consider dealing with an offence by imposing a short-term period of disqualification. A short-term period of disqualification is one which is less than 56 days. Accordingly, an offence that would ordinarily attract penalty points can instead be dealt with by way of a short ban. Unlike disqualification under totting-up any live points would remain on the licence. A short-term ban may be attractive to someone who is facing disqualification for a minimum period of 6 months under totting-up.


Discretionary Disqualification

Discretionary disqualification can be imposed for any offence where the court considers that penalty points are inadequate to reflect the gravity of the offence. There is no minimum or maximum period of disqualification, and the court can impose any period it considers to be appropriate. In practice it is not uncommon for discretionary disqualification to range between 1 and 5 months. Discretionary disqualification may be attractive to someone who is facing a ban under totting-up for a minimum period of 6 months. Where a driver is subject to a discretionary disqualification, they will not receive penalty points and any existing points will remain on the licence until their third anniversary.