What are driving convictions?


There are a number of ways a person can receive driving convictions within Northern Ireland, some of these will seem fairly obvious to any motorist and others are more subtle. Driving convictions can have an array of negative impacts on your life as well as your finances. In this guide we will go through what all the various convictions are, what they mean for your insurance and how the various penalty points affect your premiums. We will also run through what you can do if you already have some driving convictions.

Are driving convictions and fines the same thing?

In short, no…however the two can be linked. Firstly a driving conviction is a formal charge that is recorded on your driving record. it may also go on your criminal record depending on the nature of the offence. It can impact your ability to get car insurance as well as being a bar to certain types of employment depending on the nature of the conviction. A driving fine is simply a fee charged to you by an enforcement agency, usually police, as a result of a driving infringement such as exceeding the speed limit. A driving conviction does not automatically result in a fine, just as a fine does not automatically mean you will receive a conviction. In terms of long-term impacts, a driving conviction is more serious as this is something that can have further reaching consequences on your life and employability.

Typical examples of driving offences in Northern Ireland include but are not limited to:

  • Speeding
  • Drink driving
  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving without a licence
  • Dangerous driving
  • Careless driving
  • Using a mobile phone while driving
  • Not wearing a seatbelt

Driving convictions stay on your driving record for 4 or 11 years, depending on the offence and its seriousness. It goes without saying that it’s better to avoid them altogether. The PSNI is devoted to reducing traffic offences year on year and your driving offences will eventually be picked up if you are continually flaunting the rules.

What are the various types of driving convictions?

There are a few ways in which NI motorists can incur a driving conviction. Some driving offences, such as drink-driving and dangerous driving, can even result in a prison sentence. A good way to think about it is the more likely your offence is to cause serious danger to yourself and others, the greater the consequences, however repeat offending for seemingly minor offences can also build up to more serious repercussions. Typical driving convictions are the result of speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, driving without a proper licence and the endangerment of life.

When you are caught by police for an offence, the police officer may issue you with a fixed penalty notice (FPN) or a summons to appear in court. You can choose to contest the FPN or summons and your case will be heard by a magistrate or judge. From there it will be decided if you are guilty or not guilty. If guilty, the conviction will go on your driving record for a set time. A police officer cannot be the one to decide if you are convicted of a driving offence. A police officer can however decide to fine you for an offence and you can again contest this fine in court or simply pay it within 28 days. You will also receive penalty points for driving offences, receive too many and you will be disqualified from driving for a set amount of time.

If you have 12 or more penalty points on your driving licence within 3 years then you can expect to be disqualified from driving for 6 months. If you get 24 or more penalty points on your driving licence within 3 years, you will be disqualified from driving for at least 1 year.

Here are some examples of common offences and their resulting penalty points according to Remember, the below is not an exhaustive list but will give you a good general idea of the different levels of driving offences and the penalties that come with them. It is important to also note that should you commit any of these offences, a penalty point may not be the only consequence. If your offences result in serious damages or death, you may also face jail time and additional difficulties with future employment.


Accident offences

These codes must stay on a driving record for 4 years from the date of the offence.

CodeOffencePenalty points
AC10Failing to stop after an accident5 to 10
AC20Failing to give particulars or report an accident within 24 hours5 to 10
AC30Undefined accident offences4 to 9


Construction and use offences

These codes must stay on a driving record for 4 years from the date of the offence.

CodeOffencePenalty points
CU10Using a vehicle with defective brakes3
CU20Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of use of unsuitable vehicle or using a vehicle with parts or accessories (excluding brakes, steering or tyres) in a dangerous condition3
CU30Using a vehicle with defective tyre(s)3
CU40Using a vehicle with defective steering3
CU50Causing or likely to cause danger by reason of load or passengers3
CU80Breach of requirements as to control of the vehicle, such as using a mobile phone3 to 6


Careless driving

Codes CD10 to CD33 must stay on a driving record for 4 years from the date of the offence.

CodeOffencePenalty points
CD10Driving without due care and attention3 to 9
CD20Driving without reasonable consideration for other road users3 to 9
CD30Driving without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other road users3 to 9
CD33Causing serious injury by careless or inconsiderate driving3 to 9


Whilst many of the above will seem obvious to motorists as things you shouldn’t do when driving, there are some things that can go under the radar. For example, nearly 10% of motorists in Northern Ireland do not know when their licence expires. Driving on an expired licence can result in a £1,000 fine as well as up to 6 penalty points. The worst part is that nearly 30% of motorists are unaware of this.

How driving convictions can impact your car insurance premiums

Car insurers do not like taking on risky drivers, this is because they simply don’t want to lose money by insuring someone who’ll likely cause a claim. As a result, having convictions and penalty points are treated as serious red flags for insurers. Having 3 penalty points will increase your premiums by as much as 5% whilst if you have 12 points your insurance premiums can increase by nearly 90%. Every penalty point will increase your premiums and different providers may offer you even steeper prices than others or simply just refuse to insure you all together.

What to do if you’ve already got driving convictions

According to PSNI, the most common offences in Northern Ireland are as follows.

The most common motoring offences in Northern Ireland in 2022 were:

  • Speeding (7,093 detections)
  • Insurance (6,921 detections)
  • Driving licence (3,211 detections)
  • Seatbelts (2,928 detections)
  • Mobile phones (2,713 detections)

With over 41,430 offences detected on NI roads in 2022, insurers are aware that there are many motorists who have committed some sort of infraction. Insurers also understand that people make mistakes and depending on the offence you may still be able to get a deal on your car insurance.

The best thing to do is avoid any further driving penalties, whilst taking a driving course where applicable. You should also opt for convicted driver coverage as some providers can specialise in providing coverage for those with driving convictions.

CompareNI can help you quickly compare convicted driver policies with our large panel of insurance providers. If you are looking to renew you coverage or simply want cheaper insurance, then we can help with that.

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Our findings are based on a randomised survey of 1,000 respondents across the UK, which represents a margin of error of approximately 5% at a 95% confidence level.



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