Totting up bans explained

While some motoring offences – like failing to wear a seat belt or driving a car without an MOT – only carry fines, the majority of convictions will result in drivers receiving penalty points on their driving licence.
As Which? explains, penalty points were introduced along with the Road Traffic Act back in 1988 in a bid to deter drivers from committing offences while behind the wheel.

Each type of offence has an endorsement code along with penalty points on a scale of 1 to 11.
The more serious the offence, the more points drivers will receive. For instance, fail to stop after an accident and you could get five to 10 points on your licence, which will remain there for four years from the date you committed the offence.

Cause death by careless driving when you’re unfit through drink and you’ll receive three to 11 points, which will stay there for 11 years. You could end up serving a prison sentence, too.


Different types of driving disqualifications

If you commit a serious motoring offence then it’s possible that you’ll receive an immediate disqualification from driving. If this is the case then depending on the length of the ban, you may need to apply for a new licence before you can get back behind the wheel again.
But there’s another type of driving ban known as a ‘totting up ban’. If you haven’t guessed already, it’s when you’re disqualified from driving after ‘totting up’ a certain number of points on your licence.
Driving law states that you can be banned from the driver’s seat if you receive 12 or more penalty points within the space of three years. What this means is that you can only have a maximum of 11 points on your licence, otherwise it will be taken away from you, or ‘revoked’.
A police officer in high-vis clothing watching a busy dual carriage-way

How long do totting up bans last?

When you build up 12 or more points on your licence, it’s up to the court hearing your case to decide how long your ban should last. This will depend on how serious they consider your driving offence to be.
If you build up 12 or more points across a three-year period, your ban can last for six months. This can increase to 12 months if you then receive a second disqualification within three years, rising to two years if you get a third disqualification in three years.


Do you need to apply for a new licence after a totting up ban?

This depends on how long your ban lasts. If it’s for 56 days or more then yes, you’ll need to apply for a new licence before you can drive again. It might be the case that you have to retake your driving test, or even an extended test if you’re deemed a ‘high-risk offender’.
If your totting up ban lasts for less than 56 days then the best thing to do is check your driving licence record online. This way you’ll be able to see when the disqualification ends. You won’t need to apply for a new licence.


Different rules for new drivers

The rules are different if you’re a new driver – as in, you’ve passed your test in the past two years. A totting up ban will apply if you build up just six or more points within two years of passing your test.
If this happens to you and your licence is cancelled, you’ll need to take both the theory and practical tests again before you get your full licence back. You’ll also need to pay again to sit both tests – which we all know isn’t cheap.
The same applies if you have your licence cancelled after passing your test but you haven’t yet sent off for your full licence. Again, you’ll need to pay for, sit and pass both parts of the driving test all over again.
 A new driver receiving the keys to his car

Can you get a totting up ban on a provisional licence?

You can still be convicted of a driving offence before passing your test, when you’re learning to drive.

Any points you receive that haven’t expired will be carried over to your full driving licence when you get it after passing your test. If you receive any more points, taking the total to six or more points across two years, then your licence will be revoked.

What is the impact of a totting up ban?

Any type of driving ban could impact your life – in more ways than one. You’ll soon realise how impractical it is when you can’t just jump in the car to drive to the shops, drop your kids off at school or visit your friends and family at the weekend.

It may mean extra responsibility for your other half, and it could impact your job. You might even lose your job if you drive for a living or depend on your car for your work.

How do you avoid a totting up ban?

There’s a simple way you can avoid a totting up ban: drive safely and responsibly! Make sure you're clued up on driving laws and road signs, and respect other road users – which includes drivers, bikers, cyclists and pedestrians.
You should drive safely all the time. But if you’re one or a few offences away from being disqualified from driving, this is even more of a reason to make sure that you remain on the right side of the law.
 A person driving with 2 hands on the steering wheel

Convicted driver insurance from the Insurance Factory  

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