The police can stop a vehicle for any reason. If they ask you to stop, you should always pullover. You’re breaking the law if you don’t!
If you’re stopped, the police can ask to see your:
- Driving licence
- MOT certificate
- Insurance certificate
If you don’t have these documents with you, you have 7 days to take them to a police station. You’re breaking the law if you don’t show the requested documents within 7 days. The police can also give you an on-the-spot fixed penalty notice for many minor offences and make you take a breath test in certain circumstances.
The police can stop you at any time and ask you to take a breath test (‘breathalyse’ you) if:
- They think you’ve been drinking
- You’ve committed a traffic offence
- You’ve been involved in a road traffic collision
If you refuse to take a breath test, or fail to supply a sample of breath and don’t have a ‘reasonable excuse’, you can be arrested. A reasonable excuse could be a genuine physical or mental condition stopping you from giving a sample. The breath test gives a result straight away, so if it shows you’re not over the drink drive limit you must be allowed to go.
If you fail the breath test, you’ll be taken to a police station and required to provide 2 more breath tests. If they’re positive, you may be charged.
If you fail a breath test you can’t drive your car until you are sober. You can ask someone else to collect your car for you.
Minor motoring offences
Once you have put in the hard work and expense of passing your test, it is important to know that you need to keep on the right side of the law and obey the rules to ensure that you keep your licence. The police can give you a ‘fixed penalty notice’ for many of the less serious traffic offences. If you get a fixed penalty notice this can result in a fine and/or penalty points on your licence. However, for minor offences the police also have the option of:
- Offering a Discretionary Disposal
- Offering driver training (in some cases)
- Prosecuting you
If you disagree with a fixed penalty notice, you can choose not to pay the fixed penalty if you believe that it was given unjustly, but you’ll have to argue your case in court. If you accumulate 12 or more penalty points within a period of 3 years you will be disqualified from driving. This means you will need to reapply for your provisional licence and retake your driving theory and practical exams if disqualified.
As a new driver if you collect a total of 6 penalty points within your first 2 years of passing your driving test you will lose your licence. A further financial hit is that penalty points should be declared to your insurance company and they will affect the cost of your car insurance, usually for 3 years, unless you have received a conviction for the offence in which case you will need to declare these for a longer period of time. If you have received a conviction you should refer to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act to see when your conviction will become spent. Unspent convictions need to be declared to your insurer. An insurer will not hold a spent conviction against you when setting your premium or offering you cover.
How long endorsements stay on your driving licence?
Penalty points stay on a provisional licence for 3 years whereas if you hold a full licence they normally stay on for 4 years, but in some cases it can last up to 11 years. Some points go on your licence from the date of conviction others go on from the date of the offence.
If you want to find out more about endorsements and how they can affect you visit: www.nidirect.gov.uk/penalty-points-endorsements
When the police can seize your vehicle
The police can seize a vehicle if they think it’s being used in a way that causes alarm, harassment or distress (eg careless or inconsiderate driving). They can also seize a vehicle if they think it is:
- Being driven by someone who doesn’t have a proper licence or insurance
- Dangerously, illegally or obstructively parked.
- Broken-down or abandoned
If your vehicle is seized there’s a ‘release fee’ of up to £200 plus a storage fee of £20 for every day or part day.