Is a Driver Awareness Course a Conviction?

Does your licence remain clean if you attend a driver awareness course? Let’s find out…
If you’re caught committing a minor motoring offence, you might be offered a driver awareness course – and the good news is, it doesn’t count as a conviction.
By attending one of these courses, you avoid a fine and penalty points on your licence.
So what exactly is covered in these courses, when might you be offered one, and should you accept one as an alternative to an endorsement? Read on for our guide to driver awareness courses.
If the offence is more serious, you may need to search for convicted drivers insurance. But don’t worry - finding the right cover for you is easy at the Insurance Factory.

Driver awareness courses - fast facts

In 2021 alone, almost 1.5 million people attended a driver awareness course in the UK. So you Falmost certainly know somebody who’s been on one, even if you haven’t yourself.
But do you know who runs them, and what their aims are?
In a nutshell:
  • They might also be called driver education courses.
  • They’re part of the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS).
  • The scheme is overseen by UK Road Offender Education (UKROed) on behalf of the police.
  • Courses are run by a range of licensed providers, but have the same content no matter where in the country you take them.
  • Not all police forces offer them, and different forces may have different eligibility criteria.
  • They’re aimed at motorists who’ve suffered a lapse of concentration or judgement.
  • They cover relatively low-risk offences which had no serious consequences.
They’re designed to keep the roads safer by educating drivers who’ve made a simple mistake.

When might I be offered a driver awareness course?

We’ve probably all committed a few minor motoring offences at some point in our driving careers – usually without meaning to!
Some examples include:
  • Driving at a few miles over the speed limit.
  • Tailgating.
  • Jumping red traffic lights.
  • Overtaking on a road with a double white line.
Our recent blog on the difference between careless driving and dangerous driving gives you some more examples.
It’s all too easy to take your eyes off the speedometer and suddenly find you’re doing 40mph in a 30mph zone.
If you’re caught, you’re likely to receive a fixed penalty notice (FPN) through the post. That gives you the following options:
  • Pay a fine and accept penalty points on your licence. This counts as a motoring conviction (though not a criminal conviction), and could lead to higher insurance costs.
  • Refuse the fine and penalty points, and go to court to make the case that you did not commit the offences. If you’re then found guilty, the penalties will be higher.
And often, there will be a third option, too:
  • Attend a driver awareness course as an alternative to the above options.
So what kinds of courses are available? Read on to find out.

What are speed awareness courses?

The vast majority of driver awareness courses are for people caught by speed cameras. In fact, in 2021, just under 1,280,000 people took speed awareness courses as an alternative to penalty points.
They’re generally offered to people who:
  • Are caught speeding by a fairly small amount: usually between 10% + 2mph over the limit and 10% + 9mph. In practice, that means in a 30mph zone, you’d have to be driving between about 35mph and 42mph.
  • Haven’t attended a speed awareness course in the past three years. If you have, then you’ll have to accept points on your licence and a fine this time around, or plead your case in court.
  • Have a full driving licence. Read our blog on 21 tips for learner drivers to avoid getting points on your licence before you’ve even passed your test.
We’ll explain what the course covers a bit later in this article.

Are driver awareness courses just for speeding?

While speeding awareness courses are by far the most common, there are several courses set up to address other minor motoring offences, too.
The main driver education courses on offer as an alternative to penalty points and a motoring conviction are:
  • The National Motorway Awareness Course (NMAC). This is designed for motorists found contravening smart motorway regulations, for example, exceeding variable speed limits, driving on lanes marked with a red X, or misusing emergency refuge areas.
  • The What’s Driving Us course (WDU), aimed at tackling careless or inconsiderate driving behaviour such as traffic light offences and stopping at school gates.
  • The Safe and Considerate Driving course (SCD), for motorists involved in a collision after driving without due care and attention.
There are also a couple of other courses for offences which don’t carry penalty points, only fines.
  • The Rider Intervention Development Experience (RIDE), aimed at motorcyclists whose behaviour has brought them to the attention of the police. If they’ve been speeding, they might be referred to a speed awareness course, too.
  • The Safe and Considerate Cycling Course (SCCC), for cyclists caught riding on the pavement, cycling through red traffic lights or travelling without bike lights. This is a 30-minute online course.
  • The You Belt Your Life (YBYL) course, for those caught travelling without a seatbelt or transporting small children without the right car seat. This is also a 30-minute online course.
These courses also don't count as a conviction. Hopefully, they'll help you avoid any future convictions by reminding you of best practice in road use.

If you do later end up with a motoring conviction, you might need to find specialist convicted drivers insurance to get you back safely on the road.

What about drink-drive rehab courses?


If you’re convicted of drink-driving, you face automatic disqualification, along with a fine. However, if your driving ban is a year or more, you might be offered the chance to reduce it by taking a drink-drive rehabilitation course.
This course is not an alternative to a driving conviction – instead, it cuts the length of your ban by around a quarter. They usually cost around £250, and run on three days over three weeks.
Read more in our recent blog on what’s involved in a drink-drive rehab course.
And remember: once you’re allowed back on the roads after a ban, you may well need to get specialist convicted drivers insurance.

What happens during a driver awareness course?

As we mentioned, there are several different types of course, of which speed awareness is by far the most common.
So let’s take a quick look at what you can expect:
  • Once you’re caught speeding, you’ll be sent an FPN outlining your options.
  • You’ll go online to book, and will be offered a choice of locations, dates and times for your course.
  • Most take place in classrooms, but there are still some classes running online following the pandemic.
  • They usually take around half a day. In many areas, they’re offered at evenings and weekends as well as during the day.
  • They cost between £80 and £120. This is roughly the same as the £100 fine you’ll have to pay if you’re not offered a course, or don’t accept the offer.
  • There will usually be two trainers and up to 24 participants.
  • You’ll have to listen to the trainers, watch video clips, and take part in discussions and exercises.
  • There’s no test at the end, but if the trainer thinks you haven’t participated fully, you could fail the course. So if you don’t take part in the exercises, you’re simply wasting the time and money you’ve spent on the course – you’ll end up with penalty points and a fine on top.
  • Assuming you do pass, the trainer will pass this information onto the police. There will be no further action about your offence.
And when you come to renew your insurance, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You can honestly answer “none” to your provider’s question about convictions!

What will I learn on a speed awareness course?

In a speed awareness course, you’ll cover topics including:
  • Stopping distances.
  • How to work out the speed limit if you can’t see any road signs.
  • The consequences of speeding, including accounts of how people’s lives have been affected by injuries or bereavement.
  • How to resist pressure to speed from yourself and others.
  • How sticking to speed limits is more economical, so will save you money.
  • How speeding often doesn’t even save you any time, due to congestion.
  • The importance of concentration so you can recognise potential hazards.
  • How to improve your awareness of your surroundings.
  • How to give other motorists space.
  • The importance of time management to avoid speeding to arrive somewhere in time.
You’ll also draw up an action plan about how you’re going to drive differently in the future to avoid speeding.
Read more about what happens during a speed awareness course in our recent blog. Believe it or not, many drivers find them interesting and helpful!

How many points do you get after a speed awareness course?

That’s an easy one  – zero! These courses are designed as an alternative to penalty points.
However, as mentioned already, you cannot take more than one course in three years. So if you’re caught speeding again in this time frame, you’ll get three penalty points on your licence plus a fine of £100.
Then you’ll have to declare this to an insurance provider when asked, and you’re likely to see your premiums rise as a result.

Is it worth doing a speed awareness course?

In short, yes. They’re a better option than accepting penalty points because:
  • You’ll learn useful tips and strategies to keep yourself and other road users safe. Many people are surprised by how much they learn.
  • They cost roughly the same as the fine anyway.
  • Some employers want you to have a full, clean driving licence.
  • You won’t have the awkwardness of telling your employer about your driving conviction.
  • You can often take your course at a time to suit you, like in the evening.
For most people, these outweigh the disadvantages, which are:
  • You might be embarrassed to attend the course. However, remember that all the participants are in the same boat, and the trainers just want to help.
  • You might be so busy that it’s hard to fit the course in. Look into whether an online course is an option in your area – some places are still running these.
  • You don’t think you’re guilty of the offence, and want to settle the issue in court, as you have every right to do. But remember that if you’re found guilty in court, the penalties will be much higher – and you’ll have a criminal conviction, too. 
So really, it’s a no-brainer! Most people think it best to swallow their pride, and attend the course.

Do I have to declare a driver awareness course?

So now things get a little more complicated!
If you’re asked by an insurance provider if you have any motoring convictions, you don’t need to declare any driver awareness course you’ve been on – it’s not a conviction.
But some insurance providers are now asking directly if you’ve been on any driver awareness courses in recent years. And you must answer this question honestly, just like every other question that’s asked in the insurance application process.
If you’re later found to have lied, your insurance could be invalidated. That could spell a whole heap of trouble, especially if you have an accident.

Does a driver awareness course affect insurance?

It’s rare for a driver awareness course to affect your insurance premiums. As we’ve already said, you won’t usually need to declare it – unless you’re asked directly.
If you are asked, then your provider might want to raise your premiums. This is because they think you have shown that you are willing to exceed speed limits, making you more at risk of an accident.
However, hopefully your course will actually improve your driving skills. It should remind you of the importance of sticking to speed limits, and help you develop the strategies to do so.
And if, despite all this, you do end up with a driving conviction at a later date, then don’t despair.

Does a speed awareness course stay on your record?

As you may have heard, penalty points stay on your driving record for four years. And if you accrue more than 12 points in that time, you’ll be banned from driving.
So perhaps you’re wondering if similar is true for a speed awareness course?
Don’t worry: a speed awareness course is an alternative to an endorsement, so it doesn’t go on your driving record.
Your details will be kept only on the NDORS database to ensure that you can’t take more than one course in three years. They won’t be held by the DVLA, so cannot be accessed by insurance providers.
Basically, as soon as you’ve attended the course, that’s the end of the matter. Although we hope you learn lots of positive driving techniques that will stay with you for many years to come.

What’s the difference between a motoring conviction and a criminal conviction?

Many people are horrified to get a letter through the post informing them that they’ve been caught speeding.
Your brush with the law can certainly be a confusing time. So let’s untangle some of the terms used, such as motoring conviction, criminal conviction, driving record and criminal record.
  • If you go on a speed awareness course, you don’t have a motoring conviction. It doesn’t go on your driving record, and you certainly don’t have a criminal record.
  • If you accept penalty points and a fine, you have a motoring conviction which goes on your driving record for four years. However, it’s not a criminal conviction, and you don’t have a criminal record.
  • If you go to court for a minor speeding offence and are found (or plead) guilty, you have a criminal conviction which goes on your driving record for four years. However, you won’t have a criminal record.
  • You only get a criminal record for a criminal conviction that carries a potential jail term – even if you’re not actually sent to jail yourself. So for a major motoring offence such as drink-driving, you would get a criminal record, but not for a minor speeding offence.
Does that reassure you? We hope so – because everyone makes driving errors from time to time.

Do speed awareness courses work?

Some people are very dismissive of speed awareness courses. They’re reluctant to attend, as they feel they have nothing to learn.
Perhaps they believe that they’re skilled enough to drive at higher speeds – or think that their mistake was a one-off.
But the figures suggest that the courses do cut reoffending rates quite significantly.
According to a Department for Transport study:
  • Compared with motorists who accepted penalty points for speeding, speed awareness course participants were 23% less likely to speed again in the six months afterwards.
  • After three years, they were 9% less likely to reoffend.
So this does strongly suggest that a regular reminder can help drivers stick to speed limits!

How else can I brush up my driving skills?

All the courses we’ve listed so far are available only to people referred by the police after committing a motoring offence. But what if you want to refer yourself?
Perhaps you’re feeling unsure about some aspects of driving which you’ve never studied formally? After all, motorway driving is not part of the UK driving test.
Or maybe you’re worried about road regulations that have changed since you threw away your L-plates all those years ago? In 2022, there were major changes to the Highway Code that you might not be aware of.
Or it could be that you feel your reactions are no longer as sharp as they once were, or you’ve acquired a health condition that affects your driving ability.
There are various voluntary courses you can sign up for. Take a look at RoSPA’s Advanced Drivers and Riders training, or book yourself in for a driving assessment.
By taking action in good time, you will keep yourself and other road users safer, and hopefully avoid any accidents or driving convictions.

Need convicted driver insurance? Come to the specialists


At Insurance Factory, we’re specialists in arranging convicted drivers insurance. We don’t judge people who turn to us for a quote – we just do our best to find you the right insurance for the right price.
We cover a wide range of motoring convictions, including speeding offences, dangerous driving, and drink-driving.
Contact us today for a quote.