Enforcement

Q1) What are the National speed limits for different vehicles and types of road?

Q2) What percentage of vehicles exceed the speed limits?

Q3) Are there any guidelines as to when the police should issue a Fixed Penalty Notice or prosecute drivers driving over the speed limit?

Q4) What are Speed Awareness Courses and what are the thresholds under which the scheme operates? 

Q5) How many drivers have opted to attend a Speed Awareness Course rather than accept penalty points on their licences?

Q6) Is the cost of a Speed Awareness Course the same throughout the country? 

Q7) How many miles of roads in Great Britain are now regularly monitored by average speed cameras?

Q8) Does the use of average speed cameras cut the number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury?

Q9) Do speed cameras save lives or are they just a mechanism for raising revenue?

Q10) Has the number of traffic police officers declined since 2010?

Q11) How many penalties do driving licence holders receive each year?

Q12) How many Fixed Penalty Notices are issued by the Police in England and Wales for motoring offences?

Q13) Do the police have powers to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for careless or inconsiderate driving?

Q14) How many motoring offences are dealt with by the courts in England and Wales?

Q15) How many drivers were caught driving while already banned in 2016?

Q16) How many people in England were prosecuted for mis-using a Blue Badge in 2014/15?

Q17) What guidance is issued to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions?

Q18) Which local authorities outside London have civil parking enforcement powers?

Q19) How many Penalty Charge Notices are issued by local authorities in England and Wales with Civil Parking Enforcement powers?

Q20) How many parking fines are collected by bailiffs in London?

Q21) How many drivers are penalised for parking on private land?

Q22) How many appeals were registered with Parking On Private Land Appeals (POPLA) and how many were upheld?

Q23) How much is owed by foreign embassies in unpaid congestion charges in London?

Q24) How many practical car driving tests were taken in 2016/17 and what was the pass rate?

Q25) Are changes planned to the driving test?

Q26) What is the drink-drive legal alcohol limit?

Q27) Does the RAC Foundation support a lower drink/drive level?

Q28) If England and Wales had adopted the same drink-drive level as Scotland, how many lives might have been saved?

Q29) What are the current penalties for exceeding the legal alcohol limit?

Q30) What is a drink-drive rehabilitation course?

Q31) How many breath tests are carried out?

Q32) Is drug driving against the law?

Q33) Has new legislation been introduced to tackle drug driving?

Q34) Is it an offence to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving or riding?

Q35) How many Fixed Penalty Notices are issued for the offence of using a mobile phone while driving or riding?

Q36) What are the new penalties for those who are caught using a hand-held mobile phone while driving or riding?

Q37) How many uninsured drivers are there?

Q38) Which are the areas of the UK with the highest number of uninsured vehicles?

Q39) What is being done to tackle uninsured drivers?

Q40) How many uninsured vehicles have been seized by the police?

Q41) How many uninsured vehicles were seized by the police in the UK in 2015?

Q42) What are the current levels of Vehicle Excise Duty evasion?

Q43) How can I report an untaxed vehicle?

Q44) Is seat belt use compulsory?

Q45) What are the rules governing the use of a child's car seat?

A1) There are different speed limits for cars, vans, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) and towing vehicles on different types of roads and you must not drive faster than the speed limit for the road and your type of vehicle.

Details of the national speed limits can be viewed here.
 
It should be noted that local councils may set their own speed limits in areas where there is a particular need. For example, there could be a 20 mph zone in a built-up area near a school or a 50 mph (rather than 60 mph) speed limit on a stretch of road with sharp bends. Local limits must be clearly signed.
 
 
A2) In 2016, 46 per cent of cars and 47 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit (70 mph) on motorways. 11 per cent of cars and 13 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit by 10 mph or more. Compliance with the speed limit on motorways by articulated HGVs in 2016 was very high, with only 1 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit.

Across all road types, national speed limit single carriageways had the highest level of speed limit compliance for cars in 2016 with only 8 per cent of vehicles exceeding the speed limit (60 mph). For other classes of vehicles, compliance with speed limits on this type of road is lower with 35 per cent of short buses (under 12m), 28 per cent of rigid HGVs and 24 per cent of articulated HGVs exceeding the speed limit.

53 per cent of cars and 56 per cent of vans exceeded the speed limit on 30mph roads. For the larger-sized vehicle types, there were also high levels of speed limit exceedance, with 51 per cent of rigid HGVs, 43 per cent of articulated HGVs and 28 per cent of long buses (over 12m) exceeding the speed limit.

Across all vehicle types, 20 mph roads had the highest level of speed limit non-compliance in 2016. This ranged from 54 per cent for short buses to 81 per cent for cars.

Source: Speed Compliance Statistics: Great Britain 2016

A3) This is the information given on the Crown Prosecution website:-
 
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has issued speed enforcement guidance policy guidance which suggests that enforcement will normally occur when a driver exceeds the speed limit by a particular margin. This is normally 10 per cent over the speed limit plus 2 mph. It also sets guidelines for when it would not be appropriate to issue a Fixed Penalty Notice but to issue a summons instead (see below). Note that these are guidelines and that a police officer hs discretion to act outside of them providing he acts fairly, consistently and proportionately.

 

Speed limit: 20 mph 
ACPO charging threshold: 24 mph 
Summons: 35 mph 

Speed limit: 30 mph 
ACPO charging threshold: 35 mph 
Summons: 50 mph 

Speed limit: 40 mph 
ACPO charging threshold: 46 mph 
Summons: 66 mph 

Speed limit: 50 mph 
ACPO charging threshold: 57 mph 
Summons: 76 mph 

Speed limit: 60 mph 
ACPO charging threshold: 68 mph 
Summons: 86 mph 

Speed limit: 70 mph 
ACPO charging threshold: 79 mph 
Summons: 96 mph  

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A4) The National Speed Awareness Scheme allows Chief Constables to allow offenders who admit the offence of speeding an opportunity to attend a speed awareness course on the effects and dangers of speeding as an alternative to prosecution.

The thresholds under which the Scheme operates have been laid down by the Association of Chief Police Officers. The thresholds are:- 
 
Speed limit   ACPO bottom level     Speed awareness level not       Summons after
                   threshold (10% + 2)       more than (10% +6)
 
20               25                                 Nil                                                 35
30               35                                 39                                                 50
40               46                                 50                                                 66
50               57                                 61                                                 76
60               68                                 72                                                 86
70               79                                 83                                                 96                                                                                                                          
It should be noted that speed awareness courses are run by individual forces. The above guidelines are for individual forces to consider and it is permissible for them to have some minor variations on the guidelines. It is for each constabulary to invite the person in question onto the course as an alternative of going to court. Offenders cannot invite themselves onto a course.
 
 
A5) In 2016, the number of drivers that opted for a National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) speed awareness course rather than accept penalty points on their driving licence was 1,188,961.
 
Attendance increased yearly from 2010 to 2015, due to increasing numbers of police forces joining the scheme over this time and not solely to trends in offences being committed. In 2016, the number of people attending a course felll by 1.5 per cent from the previous year.
 
 
 
A6) No. There are big differences in what drivers can expect to pay for speed awareness courses depending on where they live. 

Analysis by the Press Association of data from the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme shows that speeding motorists attending courses in Northamptonshire pay £75, while those attending in Essex will pay 32 per cent more (£99).

The average across the country is £88.90.

The Press Association study also showed that the amount police forces receive from each course increased from £35 to £45 in 2017. This money is described as a cost-recovery fee and goes towards paying for fees associated with administering the courses.

Source: RAC Foundation  
 
 
A7) More than 250 miles of roads in Great Britain are now being regularly monitored by average speed cameras.

Research carried out for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis in May 2016 identified at least 50 stretches of road which are permanently managed by the cameras with a total length of 256 miles under observation. Average speed cameras are also often used on a temporary basis to manage traffic through roadworks but these are not included in this study.

The 50 stretches range in length from just a quarter of a mile over Tower Bridge in London to 99 miles on the A9 between Dunblane and Inverness in Scotland.

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A8) The use of average speed cameras has been found, on average, to cut the number of crashes resulting in death or serious injury by more than a third. 

Research for the RAC Foundation by Road Safety Analysis found that on average - having allowed for natural variation and overall trends - the number of fatal and serious collisions decreases by 36 per cent after average speed cameras are introduced.

The average reduction in personal injury collisions of all severities was found to be 16 per cent.

Source: The Effectiveness of Average Speed Cameras in Great Britain

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A9) In November 2010 the RAC Foundation published a report - The Effectiveness of Speed Cameras: A review of evidence - into the effectiveness of speed cameras by Professor Richard Allsop of University College London. Amongst the main findings were that national decommissioning of speed cameras could result in about 800 extra people across Britain being killed or seriously injured each year at that time.

In 2011, government instructed that speed camera data going back to 1990, detailing accident statistics before and after fixed speed cameras were installed, should be made publicly available. The RAC Foundation commissioned work, which was carried out once again by Professor Allsop, to provide advice on interpreting this speed camera data. Overall, this new work - Guidance on Use of Speed Camera Transparency Data - reinforces the conclusions in the earlier report but also identifies a number of camera sites in the vicinity of which collisions seem to have risen markedly.

Analysis of the data in this work for 551 fixed speed cameras in 9 areas shows that on average the number of fatal and serious collisions in their vicinity fell by more than a quarter (27%) after their installation.

There was also an average reduction of 15% in personal injury collisions in the vicinity of the 551 cameras.

The estimates for collision reduction were made allowing for the more general downward trend in the number of collisions in the 9 areas in recent years, and for the effect of regression to the mean at sites where collision numbers were unusually high in the period before the cameras were installed.

However the research also highlights 21 camera sites (in these areas) at which, or near which, the number of collisions appears to have risen enough to make the cameras worthy of investigation in case they have contributed to the increases.

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A10) Yes. The number of traffic police officers in England and Wales declined from 5,635 in March 2010 to 4,356 in March 2014.

Since 2015, data has been completed under a different framework, with different definitions. In particular, reclassification of roles within a force can lead to fluctuations in the number of officers in a particular role. This is particularly apparent for the Metropolitan Police Service (where figures have risen markedly). Latest figures for 2016 show there were 4,934 traffic police officers but these figures are not directly comparable with earlier data.

Source: Hansard

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A11) Up to twelve million driving licence holders receive a penalty notice each year – the equivalent of one every 2.5 seconds. 

This means as many as a third (30 per cent) of Britain’s 40 million drivers now receive a penalty notice annually.

The 12 million total is broken down broadly as follows:

  • 8 million local authority parking penalties
  • 2.5 million local authority bus lane and box junction penalties, etc.
  • 500,000 late licensing and insurance penalties, etc.
  • 1 million speeding and red-light penalties, etc.

The total of 12 million does not include the annual figure of 1.2 million drivers now undertaking a speed awareness course instead of receiving a penalty and points on their licences.

A further 200,000 drivers a year attend other types of courses having committed other types of offences.

Nor do the figures include the five million parking penalties issued to drivers on private land.

Source: RAC Foundation

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A12) There were 2,391,407 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) (excluding those subsequently cancelled) issued for motoring offences by the police in England and Wales (including police employed traffic wardens) in 2016. This represents a decrease of less than 1 per cent compared with the previous year. (Please note that this year the Home Office have widened the scope of the dataset for FPNs for motoring offences to include cases where a driver retraining course, such as a speed awareness course, was attended by the individual, as well as cases where an individual faced court action).

Issued FPNs can be endorsable (accompanied with penalty points on licence) or non-endorsable depending on the nature and severity of the offence committed. There has been an upward trend in the number of FPNs issues since 2013, driven by year-on year increases in the number of endorsable FPNs issued. The number of non-endorsable FPNs have fallen year-on-year. In 2016, the number of non-endorsable FPNs fell by 12 per cent (from 167,068 to 147,689), while the number of endorsable FPNs rose by less than 1 per cent (from 2,236,407 to 2,243,718). Of all the FPNs issued in 2016, 94 per cent were endorsable and 6 per cent were non-endorsable. Therefore the vast majority of FPNs were accompanied by points on a driving licence.

Over four-fifths (82 per cent) of FPNs issued in 2016 were for ‘speed limit offences’ (1,970,207), up 1 percentage point on the previous year (1,944,978). The number of FPNs issued for speed limit offences have increased year-on-year since 2011, to the highest level of offences recorded. The majority (95 per cent) of FPNs for ‘speed limit offences’ were camera-detected in 2016 this is consistent with previous years.

FPNs issued for ‘licence, insurance and record-keeping’ offences saw the largest increase, of 19 per cent in 2016 compared with the previous year (from 72,184 to 85,892). FPNs for ‘operator’s licence offences’ saw a 5 per cent increase whilst FPNs issued for ‘careless driving’, ‘lighting and noise’, ‘speed limit’ and ‘other’ offence groups also saw marginal increases. All other offence types saw a decrease in the number of FPNs issued. 

Source: Police Powers and Procedures in England and Wales year ending 31 March 2017

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A13) Yes. From 16 August 2013, careless drivers who put other road users at risk by committing offences such as tailgating or poor lane discipline face on-the-spot penalties.

See the DfT Press Notice for further information.

Over the two year period from August 2013 – when this measure was introduced – until August 2015, 17,468 people have been convicted of careless driving offences. (The figures come from a Freedom of Information request by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) to every police force in England and Wales. Some 33 out of 43 police forces responded to the IAM’s request).

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A14) The number of defendants prosecuted for motoring offences increased by 3 per cent over the last year, from 646,000 in 2015 to 667,000 in 2016, while the numbers of offenders convicted and sentenced increased by 5 per cent. Just over half of defendants prosecuted for motoring offences in 2016 were for prosecuted for speed limit and vehicle insurance offences (51 per cent), with both the number of defendants prosecuted (183,000) and convicted (168,000) for speed limit offences being the highest in the last decade.

The largest increases in the number of defendants prosecuted were seen in ‘Vehicle excise and excise license offences’ (a 21 per cent increase) and Failing to supply information as to identity of driver when required (a 5 per cent increase). The offence showing the largest decrease in defendants prosecuted was ‘Using or causing others to use a mobile phone whilst driving’ (a 27 per cent decrease), while both vehicle theft offences and careless driving (excluding mobile phone use) saw the fewest defendants prosecuted in a decade.

The most serious motoring offences, causing death and injury, saw an increase in the latest year in defendants prosecuted overall. However their proportion among all motoring offences is still very small.

Sentencing trends for motoring offences have remained broadly stable The overall custody rate for motoring offences remained stable at around 1 per cent in 2016, although the vast majority of offenders sentenced for ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ and ‘causing death by careless driving under influence of drink or drugs’ received immediate custody, with custody rates of 97 per cent and 91 per cent respectively.

The use of fines as the main sentence for motoring offences remained stable at 94 per cent of offenders sentenced. This has been the case since 2014, although there has been an increase of 6 percentage points over the last decade. The total number of offenders disqualified increased for the second consecutive year, an increase of 4 per cent, from 60,000 in 2015 to 63,000 in 2016. The total number of offenders endorsed without disqualification (i.e. receiving points on their licence only), increased by 2 per cent, from 348,000 in 2015 to 356,000 in 2016.

Source: Criminal Justice Statistics 2016: England and Wales

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A15) According to figures obtained by BBC Radio 5 live from the DVLA, around 14,500 people were caught driving without a licence in 2016. 

Source: BBC

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A16) 985 people in England were prosecuted for misusing a Blue Badge in 2014/15.

This is a 84 per cent increase compared to the 535 people prosecuted in 2013/14.

Source: Blue Badge withdrawals, prosecutions, lost and stolen badges 

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A17) The Department for Transport’s Statutory Guidance to local authorities on the civil enforcement of parking contraventions can be viewed here.

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A18) A map and list of the local authorities outside London who have civil parking enforcement powers can be viewed here.

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A19) In 2015/16, the total number of parking Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued by local authorities in England and Wales (excluding London) was 4,472,108. This is a 1.5 per cent increase over 2014/15 when 4,406,200 parking PCNs were issued.

The number of Bus Lane PCNs issued in 2015/16 was 1,162,011. This is an increase of around 34 per cent compared to the 863,411 PCNs issued in the previous year. This increase is mainly attributable to 8 new councils commencing civil bus lane enforcement

The number of parking PCNs appealed to the tribunal dropped by around 12 per cent to 12,734 compared to the previous year. The proportion of appeals allowed by the adjudicators (including those not contested by the council) remained constant at 56 per cent compared to the previous year.

The number of Bus Lane (including Moving Traffic in Wales) PCNs referred to the tribunal reduced by 13 per cent to 3,721 compared to the previous year. The proportion of Bus Lane appeals (including Moving Traffic) allowed by the adjudicators (including those not contested by the council) decreased from 56 per cent in 2014/15 to 52 per cent in 2015/16.

Source: Annual Statistics of the Traffic Penalty Tribunal 2015/16 

In 2016/17, the total number of PCNs (across the full range of traffic and parking offences) issued by London Boroughs and Transport for London was 5,132,319. This is a 10 per cent increase compared to a total of 4,664,281 PCNs issued in 2015/16.

Source: London Councils

In 2015/16, 35,828 appeals were determined in the reporting period (this figure includes appeals lodged in the previous year but determined in the reporting year) by the Environment and Traffic Adjudicators. 17,213 appeals were allowed, of which 7,302 were not contested. 18,615 appeals were refused.

Full details of the appeals determined by appeal types (parking, bus lane, moving traffic, London lorry control and litter and waste) can be viewed in the Annual Report.

Source: Environment and Traffic Adjudicators Annual Report 2015-2016

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A20) According to figures obtained by the BBC, bailiffs were employed to recover nearly 500,000 parking fines in London last year.

Councils recovered £17.5m using bailiffs to collect debts from people with unpaid parking fines - a 22 per cent increase in two years.

Source: BBC

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A21) Official figures show that in 2016/17, private parking companies obtained 4.7 million sets of vehicle-keeper records from the DVLA. The vast bulk of this information is likely to have been used by private parking companies to send penalty charges (‘tickets’) – often up to £100 - to drivers who have allegedly infringed parking rules.

The 4.7 million figure is the highest figure ever supplied by the DVLA and is just over a million higher than in the previous financial year (2015/16, 3.67 million records). It represents an annual increase of 28 per cent.

The data suggests that a private parking ticket is now being issued every 7 seconds, the equivalent of 9 per minute, 538 per hour and 12,904 per day.

Source: RAC Foundation

Latest figures show that in the first quarter of the 2017-18 financial year. the DVLA shared 1.74 million records with private parking companies. This is compared with the 1.06 million records released in quarter one 2016-17.

If the release of data was replicated across the remaining three quarters then the annual total would be 7 million, up from 4.7 million in 2016-17.

Source: RAC Foundation

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A22) Between 1 September 2015 and 30 September 2016, POPLA received 49,887 appeals and decided 32,621. Of the appeals decided, 11,217 appeals (34.4 per cent) were allowed and 21,404 appeals (65.6 per cent) refused. On a further 10,682 appeals, the parking operators withdrew from the process on receiving notice of the appeal from POPLA. An appeal that is withdrawn by an operator results in the parking operator cancelling the parking charge. 

Source: POPLA Annual Report 2016

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A23) Since the congestion charging scheme was introduced in London in 2003, £108,643,390 of congestion charge fines have not been paid by foreign embassies. (Figures correct at 30 September 2017).

The United States have the greatest amount of unpaid fines, owing a total of £11.820 million. They are followed by Japan (£7.911 million) and Nigeria (£6.661 million).

80 diplomatic missions owe more than £100,000 in fines and overall, 145 diplomatic missions owe fines.

Source: Transport for London

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A24) Over the course of the 2016/17 financial year, 1,730,936 car practical driving tests were conducted. This was 12.5 per cent higher than the 1,537,735 practical driving tests conducted in the previous financial year and the highest number of practical driving tests conducted since 2008/09.

The pass rate was 47.1 per cent, a small rise from the 47.0 per cent pass rate in the previous financial year.

Source: Department for Transport table DRT0101

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A25) Yes. The driving test will change from Monday 4 December 2017 to include following directions from a sat nav and testing different manoeuvres.

The changes to be introduced include:-

  • Increasing the Independent driving part of the test to 20 minutes
  • Following directions from a sat nav
  • Changing the reversing manoeuvres
  • Answering a vehicle safety question while the candidate is driving


Full details can be viewed here.

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A26) The legal alcohol limit for drivers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is:-

• 80 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (80mg/100ml), or
• 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 107 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine

In March 2011 the Government announced it would not be following the advice of the North Review on Drink and Drug Driving Law and reducing the current drink/drive limit from 80mg to 50mg.

The position is different in Scotland where a new legal alcohol limit was introduced on December 5 2014. Here, the limit is:- 

• 50 milligrammes (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood (50mg/100ml), or
• 22 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 ml of breath, or
• 67 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of urine

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A27) YesThe RAC Foundation is amongst a coalition of road safety charities, emergency services and health groups who have called on MPs to reduce the drink driving limit in England and Wales.

The call comes after statistics show no progress has been made on drink driving since 2010, with 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties reported each year.

England and Wales have one of the highest drink-drive limits in the world. Set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The Government of Malta announced recently plans to lower the drink-drive limit to 50mg in a new National Alcohol Policy to reduce harm.

Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to introduce before the end of 2018  a two-tier drink drive limit, with the general drink-drive limit down to 50mg/100ml, in line with Scotland, and an even lower limit for new and professional drivers. 

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A28) It is estimated that had the drink drive limit been lowered from 80 to 50mg/100ml at the beginning of 2010, then in every year between 2010 and 2013 about 25 lives would have been saved and 95 people saved from serious injury.

The estimates come from research by Professor Richard Allsop in his report Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit. The work was jointly commissioned by the RAC Foundation and PACTS. 

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A29)  You could be imprisoned, banned from driving and face a fine if you’re found guilty of drink-driving. The actual penalty you get is up to the magistrates who hear your case, and depends on your offence.

Drivers who drive, or attempt to drive, while over the legal alcohol limit face penalties of:-

• up to 6 months in prison
• an unlimited fine
• a minimum of 12 months' disqualification (3 years for a second offence within 10 years)

Full details of all the penalties that could be incurred through drink-driving can be viewed here

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A30)  A magistrate can decide to offer you the chance to take a drink-drive rehabilitation course if you are found guilty of a drink-drive offence and you get a ban of 12 months or more. The court can then reduce the length that you are banned from driving if you complete the course within a certain time. The ban is usually reduced by a quarter.

For full details of a drink-drive rehabilitation course see here.

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A31) There were 463,319 breath tests carried out by police in 2016, the lowest number since data collection began in 2002. This is the first time the total number of breath tests has fallen below half a million. This represents a fall of 11 per cent when compared with 520,219 breath tests carried out in 2015. The decrease continues the downward trend seen since the peak of 815,290 breath tests in 2009.

There were 58,998 breath tests which were positive or refused in 2016 compared with 60,019 positive or refused tests in 2015. The number of positive or refused breath tests in 2016 represents 13 per cent of the total number of breath tests, the highest proportion since 2008. The proportion of breath tests that were positive or refused gradually fell from 20 per cent in 2003 to 11 per cent in 2009 and has remained stable at between 10 per cent and 13 per cent since then.

Source: Police Powers and Procedures in England and Wales year ending 31 March 2017

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A32) Yes. Under the Road Traffic Act 1988, it is an offence to drive whilst unfit through drugs. (A person will be taken to be unfit to drive if his ability to drive properly is for the time being impaired).

For more information on drug driving, see here.

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A33) Yes. On 2 March 2015, the drug driving law changed to make it easier for the police to catch and convict drug drivers.

It is now an offence to drive with any of 17 controlled drugs above a specified level in your blood. This includes illegal and medical drugs. The limits set for each drug is different, and for illegal drugs the limits set are extremely low, but have been set at a level to rule out any accidental exposure (i.e from passive smoking).

Officers can test for cannabis and cocaine at the roadside, and screen for other drugs, including ecstasy, LSD, ketamine and heroin at the police station. Even drivers that pass the roadside check can be arrested if the police suspect that your driving is impaired by drugs.

Initial figures show that in 2015, 1,442 motorists in the UK – about 4 a day - were convicted for offences including being in charge of, attempting to drive, or causing death after exceeding the legal drug limit. Conviction rates for the new drug driving offence stand at 98 per cent.

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A34)  Yes. It is illegal to drive or ride a motorcycle using hand-held phones or similar devices. The rules are the same if you are stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.

It is also illegal to use a hand-held phone or similar device when supervising a learner driver or rider.

If you are the driver, you can only use your phone in a vehicle if you:-

  • need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop
  • are safely parked                                                                                                                                                  


 Full details of the law regarding using a mobile phone when driving can be viewed here.

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A35) The number of Fixed Penalty Notices issued for driving or riding while using a hand-held mobile phone in 2016 was 79,929. This is down by 7.5 per cent from 86,371 in 2015 and is down from a peak of 166,805 in 2006. 

Source: Police Powers and Procedures in England and Wales year ending 31 March 2017

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A36) From 1 March 2017, motorists using a hand-held phone while driving will receive 6 points on their licence and a £200 fine – up from the previous 3 points and £100 penalty. The new rules apply in England, Scotland and Wales.

Remedial courses will also no longer be offered to first-time offenders as an alternative to the Fixed Penalty Notice in order to provide a strong deterrent and to change behaviour.

In addition, your case could go to court and you could be disqualified from driving or riding and get a maximum fine of £1,000. Drivers of buses or goods vehicles could get a maximum fine of £2,500.

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A37) Latest estimates from the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) are that around 2.8 per cent (around 1 million) of GB motorists drive uninsured. The estimated number of uninsured drivers on the UK's roads has halved over the last decade, from nearly two million in 2005 to around one million now.

The MIB has also estimated that uninsured and untraced drivers kill 120 people and injure 29,000 every year. 

Research and surveys also show that uninsured drivers are more likely to be involved in road traffic accidents. In addition, evidence also suggests that uninsured vehicles are used to conduct wider criminal activity. 

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A38) Analysis from Churchill Car Insurance reveals that East London comes top in the list of the UK’s uninsured vehicle hotspots. 13.4 per cent of vehicles in this area have no insurance. This means that if a motorist was involved in an accident with a car in this area there is a one in eight chance the other vehicle would not be insured.

The next four areas with the highest percentage of uninsured vehicles are North London (9.3 per cent); South East London (9.1 per cent); Liverpool (7.9 per cent); and Bradford (7.6 per cent).

In absolute terms the highest number of uninsured vehicles in the UK is estimated to be located in Birmingham. The UK’s second city is estimated to be home to 55,142 uninsured vehicles. Manchester (37,167), East London (34,436), Belfast (30,504) and Liverpool (27,364) also rank in the top five for the highest number of uninsured vehicles.

Source: Churchill Insurance

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A39) It is illegal to drive a vehicle on a road or in a public place without at least 3rd party insurance. Even if the vehicle itself is insured, if you are not correctly insured to drive it you could get penalised.

Data from the Motor Insurance Database is shared with all UK police forces so that their Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras can quickly and easily tell if the vehicle in front of them is insured or not. The police can issue a fixed penalty of £300 and 6 penalty points to those caught driving a vehicle they are not insured to drive. Uninsured vehicles can also be seized by the police and the owner will have to pay a £20 per day storage charge and a £150 fee, and produce valid insurance, before the car is released. Cars which are not claimed within a fortnight end up being crushed.  Around 30 - 40 per cent of cars which are seized end up being crushed.

If the case goes to court those driving uninsured can get an unlimited fine and be disqualified from driving.

In addition, under the Continuous Insurance Enforcement legislation, it is an offence to keep an uninsured vehicle, rather than just to drive when uninsured. The registered keeper of a vehicle must keep it insured unless he or she has made a SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). If you are the registered keeper of a vehicle and have not made a SORN, you will receive a letter telling you that your vehicle appears to be uninsured and warning you that you will be given a £100 fine unless you take action. If the vehicle remains uninsured - regardless of whether the fine is paid - it could then be clamped, seized and destroyed. The vehicle will only be released when the registered keeper provides evidence that he or she is no longer committing an offence of having no insurance and the person proposing to drive the vehicle away is insured to do so

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A40) Over 1.6 million uninsured vehicles have been seized by the police for having none, or the incorrect insurance, since they were granted powers in 2005 to stop and seize uninsured vehicles. 

Source: Motor Insurers' Bureau

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A41) Around 118,500 uninsured vehicles were seized from the UK's roads by the police during 2015,

Source: Motor Insurers' Bureau

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A42) In 2017, the rate of unlicensed vehicles of traffic on roads in the UK was estimated to be 1.8 per cent, compared with 1.4 per cent in 2015 and 0.6 per cent in 2013. (The figure for Great Britain in 2017 was also 1.8 per cent).  The increase could be due to major changes to the vehicle licensing system which took place in October 2014, especially the automatic refund of tax when a vehicle changes hands.

Of the unlicensed vehicles identified in the survey: 52 per cent had been unlicensed for 2 months or less; 51 per cent were more than 10 years old; and 34 per cent had changed hands since September 2016.

The overall rate of unlicensed vehicles in the active vehicle stock in the UK in June 2017 was estimated to be 1.9 per cent. This is equivalent to about 755,000 vehicles.

It is estimated that the levels of VED evasion seen in the June 2017 survey would correspond to around £107 million in lost tax revenue over a full year, for the United Kingdom. This is higher than in any year since at least 2007, due to the increase in the evasion rate. This equates to approximately 1.7 per cent of the total VED due, although some of this lost revenue will have been recovered through DVLA enforcement activity or through vehicle keepers paying arrears of duty to cover the untaxed period. 

Source: Vehicle Excise Duty Evasion Statistics 2017

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A43) You can anonymously report a vehicle that appears to be untaxed and used/kept on the public road.

The steps that should be taken to report such a vehicle can be viewed here.

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A44) It became compulsory to use seat belts in the front of vehicles in 1983; back seat belt use by children became compulsory in 1989; and for adults it became compulsory in 1991. So seat belt use is compulsory in all vehicles that have seat belts fitted, including vans and other heavier goods vehicles.

There are some exceptions. They are for:-

•  Medical reasons. Here, a doctor may say you do not have to wear a seat belt for medical reasons and will issue a "Certificate of Exemption from Compulsory Seat Belt wearing". The Certificate must be kept in the vehicle and shown to a Police Officer if you are stopped. 
•  A driver who is reversing, or supervising a learner driver who is reversing.
•  A driver of a goods vehicle undertaking deliveries or collections provided you travel less than 50 metres between stops.
•  Drivers and passengers in vehicles being used for police and fire and rescue service purposes.
•  A licensed taxi driver who is "plying for hire" or carrying passengers.
•  A passenger in a vehicle (not the driver) being used under a trade license and who is investigating a mechanical fault.

Full details can be found here.

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A45) The rules for children younger than 12 or under 135 centimetres tall can be viewed here.

Once a child is 12 years old or 135 centimetres tall, they must use an adult seat belt. 

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