Driving offences in Northern Ireland

Legislation

Driving in Northern Ireland is most commonly governed by the following legislation:-

  • Road Traffic (NI) Order 1981
  • Road Traffic (Amendment) (NI) Order 1991
  • Road Traffic (NI) Order 1995
  • Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996 

Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices

Most driving offences in Northern Ireland will be dealt with by way of a fixed penalty notice issued by a police officer. Examples of offences that are commonly dealt with in this manner are speeding, defective tyres, failure to wear a seat-belt and driving on the hard shoulder of a motorway.

Each offence carries with it mandatory penalty points to be endorsed on the offenders driving licence. In addition a fine will be payable by the offender.

Penalty points will remain on a licence for a period of 3 years.

Non-Endorsable Fixed Penalty Notices

Notices for these offences carry fines of £30 however there are no penalty points endorsed on an offenders licence.

Driving with no insurance

If an offender is guilty of the offence of "Driving or causing or permitting a person to drive a motor vehicle whilst uninsured"  6 penalty points will be endorsed on the drivers licence and the offender should expect to receive a fine of £200.

Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996 - Penalty Points “Totting-up”

The Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996 introduced a system of penalty points in Northern Ireland. Under the legislation the Court is obligated to impose a period of disqualification for drivers that accumulate 12 penalty points within a period of 3 years.

Each driving offence carried with it an appropriate number of penalty points as set out in Schedule 1 of the legislation. For example the offence of failure of driver or owner of vehicle or other person required to do so, to give information for purposes of identification to police will lead to an obligatory 3 penalty points being endorsed on the offenders license.

Certain offences will have a range of obligatory points and the Court is allowed to exercise discretion over the amount of points that it will impose in such circumstances. For example the offence of driving without a license has a range of between 3 and 6 obligatory penalty points.

To see the full range of driving offences and their corresponding penalties please click here to view Schedule 1 of the Road Traffic Offenders (NI) Order 1996.

Period of disqualification under Penalty Points “Totting-up” system

The period of disqualification will be at the discretion of the Court and the Court will look at any mitigating factors that are put before it by the Defendant. That being said the District Judges’ in Northern Ireland are well versed in hearing such pleas in mitigation and accordingly are case hardened to all of the hard luck stories that are presented to them. In cases where the Court is presented with such mitigating factors it is faced with the dilemma of how to balance the need for an offender to retain their licence with the need to protect the public from dangerous or careless drivers.

Mitigating factors that the Court will take in to consideration include:-

  • The Defendant’s previous record
  • Effect of disqualification on the Defendant’s employment and the impact that a loss of employment would have on the Defendant’s ability to provide for himself/herself and their family
  • An early guilty plea made by the Defendant

Certain offences will however carry with it a mandatory disqualification period such as driving with excess alcohol and causing death or grievous bodily harm by careless driving.

Applying for a new driving license following disqualification

Disqualified drivers who have come to the end of their disqualification period should note that they must apply for a new license before starting to drive again. To apply for a new license you will need to complete a DL1 form and send same to the DVA in Coleraine together with the appropriate fee and a colour certified photograph. Full details of how to do this can be found on the DVA NI website by clicking here

You can commence driving after your disqualification period has ended provided that you have submitted your application to the DVA NI and fulfill a number of requirements as stipulated on the DVA NI website.

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