@Admins and Mods:
These and similar questions pop up in regular intervals, and this particular thread has already generated over 5600 views (a value normally only reached by the clubs) - so there is a considerable interest in this topic. Therefore, I thought it might be useful if you would add an entry for traffic offences in the FAQs. To make it easier, I got started on a few points I think are relevant, please feel free to expand/correct/comment everybody.
Can I take advantage of the fixed penalty (FPN) system?
(a) for offences commited before April 2009:
Non-EEA driving licence: no, has to be settled in court
EEA driving licences without counterpart registration: no, has to be settled in court
EEA driving licences with counterpart registration: yes
(b) for offences commited after April 2009:
EEA driving licences: yes, following overhaul of Road Safety Act 2006 and Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 implementing Council Directive No. 91/439/EEC and EC (Recognition of Driving Licences of other Member States) Regulations 2008. See also according note in the form D9
Non-EEA driving licence: if I read the current revision of RTOA'88 correctly, may take advantage of the FPN scheme if they have registered a counterpart. This is only relevant for the first year, anyway (see below).
How long will my licence be valid?
non-EEA: 1 year after taking residence (i.e. excluding short term visits like holidays), then it must be exchanged
or it will be a traffic offence
EEA: until you are 70 years old or
for 3 years after becoming resident (whichever is the longer
as long as the licence is valid
Generally, a licence holder is allowed to drive anything the foreign licence allows, with one major exception: in no case (even if the foreign licence allows it) may a driver use a vehicle below the legal age in the UK (i.e. 17 years for cars).
How many points will I get, how long will they be on the licence?
website for complete list
What are minor/major traffic offences?
The HO takes a hard stance on certain offences considered reckless: "Drink-driving offences, driving while uninsured or disqualified or driving whilst using a mobile phone are not minor offences
" (Booklet AN; page 15). Likewise, dangerous driving, furious driving, aggravated taking of a vehicle and similar offences will not go down well with the caseworkers. Such offences will adversely affect your good character requirement. However, speeding (within reason!), driving with a foreign licence and other offences that are more a harmless oversight than reckless endangerment will not normally be considered major offences. Those will normally be disregarded by HO - except there are too many of them - a large number of minor offences will let HO doubt your good character as well (as it could suggest "a pattern of offending").
Will traffic offences affect my application?
one or two minor offences/FPN: normally not
multiple minor offences: getting trickier, and everything else should be in order
one FPN in the last year: normally not
two FPNs in the last year: wait a year
major unspent offences in the qualifying period: wait until spent
any driving bans: wait until the period of disqualification has ended
What if I go to court over a minor offence / FPN?
If an FPN has been referred to a court due to the non-payment of the fine or if the notice has been challenged by the applicant and subsequently upheld by the court, then this is treated as a conviction by HO (instructions manual 3.2.3). In other words: refusing to play ball over an FPN is a considerable gamble if you plan to apply for BC. However, note that this does not
apply to cases of foreign driving licence holders who have to go to court because their cases cannot be handled directly by the police under the FPN scheme.