Glossary of Motoring Offence Terms

If you have been accused of a driving offence, you will want to make sure you understand the specialist terms involved in road traffic law. This glossary will tell you everything you need to know.

To speak to a solicitor if you are facing accusations of committing a motoring offence, call us for free on 0800 804 8159 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

Careless driving

This is an offence when a driver is accused of driving a vehicle without due care and attention, or without reasonable consideration for other people using the road. For more information on careless driving, visit our dedicated page.

Dangerous driving

This offence involves a person’s manner of driving falling far below the standard expected of a competent driver, so much so that it would be considered dangerous. For more information on dangerous driving, visit our dedicated page.

Driving endorsement

Driving endorsements are the same as penalty points, which are issued by the court for a driving offence. Depending on the offence, endorsements will stay on your driving licence for between four and 11 years.

Exceptional hardship

This is an argument put forward to the court to decide the effects of a period of disqualification from driving, such as the impact on relatives who are reliant on the driver and/or the need to drive for a job. Arguments can fall under a number of categories, such as financial hardship.

Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN)

If a minor driving offence has been committed, an FPN may be issued instead of a court summons. An FPN will include a fixed penalty - usually a fine and penalty points - but will spare you the cost and inconvenience of going to court.

Major offences

These type of offences are handled by magistrates’ court and include driving while under the influence of drugs/alcohol and dangerous driving.

Minor offences

Most driving offences are classed as ‘minor’ and can be dealt with by issuing an FPN. Examples include speeding, driving without an MOT and using a mobile device while driving.

Mitigating circumstances

Factors and conditions that are taken into account out of mercy or fairness in deciding the level of an offence charged or reducing the penalty upon conviction.

Non-endorsable offences

These offences do not attract penalty points but do attract a financial penalty, e.g. defective light on a car.

Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP)

A NIP is a warning that notifies a driver that they may be prosecuted for a driving offence. If you receive a NIP, you are expected to sign and return it within 28 days.

Penalty points

This is the term for the punishment awarded for a driving offence. The courts will endorse your driving licence with penalty points that remain on your licence for a certain period of time. The length of time penalty points remain on your driving licence depends on the driving conviction you have been charged with.

Reasonable excuses

An acceptable reason in the eyes of the court that could help to reduce or remove a penalty for a driving offence.


This includes a breath sample if you are stopped by the police at the roadside and a breath or blood or urine sample at the police station.

Taxi touting

This is when an unlicensed vehicle operates as a taxi without meeting specific criteria. Unlicensed vehicles cannot solicit people in a public place or display the words ‘taxi’, ‘cab’ or ‘hire’ on the vehicle. For more information on taxi touting, visit our dedicated page.

Totting up

This a term used to describe the accumulation of penalty points. If you accumulate 12 penalty points over three years, you will be disqualified from driving.

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If you have been accused of committing a driving offence, or are facing prosecution, our expert team of solicitors are here to help. Get in touch with us by calling 0800 804 8159 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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