DVLA Sanctions Guidelines
The Graduated Fixed Penalty & Deposit SystemThe fixed penalty system for vehicle-related offences has been used by police forces for a number of years. Fixed penalties provide an efficient, proportionate and direct way of dealing with a wide range of road traffic offences. The rights of individuals to challenge alleged offences in court are preserved, but the number of cases brought before the courts is still substantially reduced. Each year over 3 million fixed penalty notices are issued by the police for motoring offences in Great Britain. The system is widely accepted by the motoring public and the Government is satisfied that it is fully compliant with human rights legislation.
The following is an overview of the changes and amendments made to the previous system.
VOSA examiners now have the power to issue fixed penalty notices. The use of fixed penalties by VOSA will be of great benefit as it will simplify the enforcement of offences and save time for all concerned ˇV for VOSA, for the courts and also for those offenders who would be willing to accept a fixed penalty in lieu of prosecution in court (indications show the majority will be likely to do so).
The fixed penalty system before the changes was relatively inflexible: each offence had a single fixed penalty amount, irrespective of the severity of the offence. There is now the ability to graduate the amount of the fixed penalty depending on the circumstances or the severity of the offence. At this time the graduated approach is only being used in the case of offences connected with the operation of commercial vehicles and for breaches of driversˇ¦ hours rules and overloading of vehicles.
A significant change is that there is now an effective system for enforcing road traffic law in respect of non-UK offenders and UK offenders with no fixed abode. VOSA (and the police) can issue fixed penalties to non-UK resident and UK resident offenders, regardless of whether the offence is endorsable (i.e. if penalty points are to be endorsed on the driving licence/driving record); and request a financial penalty deposit from any offender who does not have a satisfactory address where they can be found in the UK.
Such deposit payments may be either in respect of a fixed penalty or as a form of surety in respect of a fine where an offence is to be prosecuted in court. Alleged offenders can choose to contest the offence in court if they wish to do so.
Alongside the Graduated Fixed Penalties and Deposits system, VOSA and the police were given the power to immobilise vehicles. This is used to overcome the problem of offenders ignoring a prohibition notice and driving off after VOSA or the police have left the enforcement site, and to deal with offenders who have not yet made, or have refused to make, a requested financial penalty deposit payment.
VOSA will mainly use this system when dealing with commercial goods and passenger carrying vehicles, covering areas such as construction and use (brakes, steering etc) and driversˇ¦ hours. An authorised examiner can however deal with any vehicle on the road, and issue fixed penalty notice(s) if appropriate.
Fixed Penalty Notices will attract the penalties shown below:-
£50 fine, non-endorsable
£100 fine, non-endorsable
£200 fine, non-endorsable
£300 fine, non-endorsable
£100 fine, endorsable, three penalty points
£200 fine, endorsable, three penalty points
Examiners will exercise their powers to issue graduated fixed penalties and deposit requirements in line with VOSAˇ¦s published policies, so that sanctions are applied consistently and fairly. An element of discretion will be required in certain circumstances, but this will be exercised in a proportionate and fair manner. Decisions will be proportional to the risks to individuals and to the wider public and to the seriousness of any breach.
Whilst this guidance is not legally binding on VOSA, their authorised examiners and administration teams, these practices will normally be adhered to unless there are persuasive reasons not to do so.
Decision to Take Enforcement Action
A fixed penalty notice is one of a number of options open to examiners when determining the appropriate course of action.
An examiner will always consider the full circumstances of the situation and of the offence when reaching a decision whether to take no further action, give a verbal warning, issue an offence rectification notice (ORN), issue a prohibition notice (mechanical, weight, driversˇ¦ hours, dangerous goods, absence of a foreign vehicles permit), issue a fixed penalty (or, in Scotland, offer a conditional offer) or report for a court summons. Examiners will consider any mitigating or exacerbating factors which may be present and make informed decisions before taking any action.
Overview of Fixed Penalties
In England and Wales section 54 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988, as amended (RTOA88)2 empowers an examiner who has reason to believe that a person is committing, or has on that occasion committed a fixed penalty offence (subject to some restrictions) to issue a fixed penalty notice in respect of the offence.
In England, Wales and Scotland, section 75 RTOA88 empowers an examiner who has reason to believe that a person is committing or has committed a fixed penalty offence, to issue a conditional offer of a fixed penalty for offences detected at the time, should the offender choose to accept it. Initially, VOSA will only issue conditional offers of a fixed penalty for offences detected in Scotland.
Effectively the above two situations achieve the same aim, allowing the alleged offender to pay a fixed penalty rather than being taken to court for a hearing. The alleged offender can still choose to have the alleged offence dealt with by a court.
The use of fixed penalties is applicable irrespective of nationality. A deposit may be required if an alleged offender cannot supply a satisfactory UK address
The graduated fixed penalty is proportionate to the severity of the breach or contravention. The main graduated offences cover commercial vehicle driversˇ¦ hours and overloading offences.
The penalties are graduated to reflect:
the length of time that a driver has spent driving, or working over the legal limit;
the degree of shortfall below what is necessary for a prescribed period of rest;
the degree of overloading.
The graduated fixed penalties reflect the severity and circumstances of the offending behaviour, and accordingly are therefore more likely to deter the more extreme cases of offending. The level of graduation is set out in the Fixed Penalty Order 2000 (S.I. 2000/2792), as amended by the Fixed Penalty (Amendment) Order 2003 (S.I. 2003/1254), Fixed Penalty (Amendment) Order 2009 (S.I 2009/488) and the Fixed Penalty
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