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Driving Offences on a Motorway

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 17 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Motorway Driving Offences Speeding

Speeding is one of the most common driving offences committed on UK motorways. Speeding on a motorway can actually come with higher penalties than speeding on other public roads.

Motorway Driving in the UK

Motorway driving in the UK is relatively safe but can be daunting, especially for New Drivers. Simple mistakes on a motorway can have very serious consequences and this is the reason why many people take motorway driving lessons. Driving offences on a motorway can occur no matter how experienced the driver. The increased driving speeds on motorways, weather conditions and lack of concentration can lead to serious traffic accidents. It’s no surprise that driving offences such as speeding on a motorway can result in higher penalties and fines.

Speeding on a Motorway

Motorway Speeding Fines are higher due to the serious consequences that can result from speeding on a motorway. The national speed limit on a UK motorway is 70mph but this is exceeded by many drivers on a regular basis. Estimates show that over half the cars driven on a motorway are driven over the legal speed limit. The police do try to resolve most speeding offences with a Fixed Penalty Notice but when speeds are excessive a court appearance may be the result. In most cases the higher the speed the more likely an instant ban will be applicable.

Speeding on a Motorway Penalties and Fines

Fines for speeding on a motorway can be as much as £2,500. Instant Disqualifications for speeding can last between 7 days and 56 days. Extreme cases can result in bans of 120 days although an instant speeding disqualification is at the judge’s discretion. Penalty points for speeding are the usual three to six points and a ban if 12 points have been reached within a three year period. The circumstances of the offence, mitigating circumstances, the driver’s history and the severity of the offence will all be taken into account.

Discretion Available with Speeding Offences

The court does have an amount of discretion available when it comes to applying an instant speeding ban. A number of factors will be taken into account including existing penalty points, driver history, the actual speed limit and the alleged speed limit. When the alleged speed is more than 45% over the actual speed limit there is a much greater chance of a disqualification. A solicitor will be able to assess the specific case and give a likely outcome depending on the circumstances.

Other Common Motorway Driving Offences

There are a number of motorway driving offences that can lead to fixed penalties, usually three points on a licence, these will include:

  • Reversing on a motorway
  • Driving on the hard shoulder of a motorway
  • Driving on a motorway with a provisional driving licence
  • Driving on the central reservation or verge of a motorway
  • A prohibited vehicle that is driving on the motorway offside lane
  • Stopping on the hard shoulder of a motorway can be a prosecutable offence

Stopping or Driving on the Motorway Central Reservation

It is an offence to either stop or drive on the central reservation or verge on a motorway. The central reservation is categorised as any part of the motorway that is not the actual carriageway or the hard shoulder. Committing this offence can lead to a fine of up to £2500 and three penalty points on a licence. There may be certain circumstances why the driver had to stop on the central reservation that can be taken into account. These can include a sudden illness, a breakdown or an accident.

For beginners one of the best ways to obtain experience of motorway driving is to have an additional motorway driving lesson. Some driving schools will actually include motorway driving as part of the driving course. Motorways driving lessons are an excellent way for new drivers to overcome motorway driving fears, learn the rules of the motorway and learn about motorway driving offences. Pass Plus driving courses available through driving schools will usually have motorway driving lessons included as part of the learning experience.

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[Add a Comment]
ithw888 - Your Question:
Can anyone explain how and when a variable speed limit is enforced? I keep hearing its only during peak traffic times or when the traffic is heavy that a speed restriction is necessary.

Our Response:
In variable speed limit areas the speed limit is changed depending on the level of congestion. The speeds are changed manually by operators or sometimes by sophisticated technology that monitors traffic flow. Speed limits might be lowered at times of peak congestion in order to create a smoother flow of traffic or an accident is ahead the variable limit can be set to enable traffic to slow down to a stop or to allow it to pass at a reasonable/safe speed. The limits are displayed at regular intervals and are enforced by cameras.
NoPenaltyPoints - 18-May-18 @ 3:05 PM
Can anyone explain how and when a variable speed limit is enforced? I keep hearing its only during peak traffic times or when the traffic is heavy that a speed restriction is necessary.
ithw888 - 17-May-18 @ 10:06 PM
ABBASY - Your Question:
Hi,I drove through a closed lane in M25 yesterday. I do not use motorway very often (used yesterday after 1 year). I saw the sign overhead to move to right lane as the lane ahead is closed and speed limit 40. I moved to right lane and reduced my speed. After a while there was coach behind me and the coach came very close to me (he was doing well above the speed limit) in order to maintain the gap I moved to the left lane and as soon as the coach drove past me, I move to the right lane.It seems to me that only me was maintaining the speed limit shown and everyone was doing more than 50. I am very cautious on the road and never broken any traffic rules. Now I am afraid I will get penalty for moving to the left lane which was closed. I done some research and found out new law was supposed to come at the end of March 2018 to penalised drivers who use closed lanes with £100 fine and 3 penalty points. However, I could not find anywhere whether the law came into force. I would be glad if anyone could help me with the information whether law is already in force.

Our Response:
We're stilll awaiting a response from Highways England about this. We'll keep you posted.
NoPenaltyPoints - 24-Apr-18 @ 2:22 PM
Hi, I drove through a closed lane in M25 yesterday. I do not use motorway very often (used yesterday after 1 year). I saw the sign overhead to move to right lane as the lane ahead is closed and speed limit 40. I moved to right lane and reduced my speed. After a while there was coach behind me and the coach came very close to me (he was doing well above the speed limit) in order to maintain the gap I moved to the left lane and as soon as the coach drove past me, I move to the right lane.It seems to me that only me was maintaining the speed limit shown and everyone was doing more than 50. I am very cautious on the road and never broken any traffic rules.Now I am afraid I will get penalty for moving to the left lane which was closed. I done some research and found out new law was supposed to come at the end of March 2018 to penalised drivers who use closed lanes with £100 fine and 3 penalty points. However, i could not find anywhere whether the law came into force. I would be glad if anyone could help me with the information whether law is already in force.
ABBASY - 23-Apr-18 @ 10:01 AM
Donc0906 - Your Question:
HelloWhat are the current penalties for driving under a red X on the smart motorway? For example if Highways closed a road due to an accident. You are passed the gantry prior to the accident and no lane closure is shown. As you approach the accident you moved to the second lane for the safety of the people on the hard shoulder. As you move back into lane 1 you see that a red X has been put above that lane, yoy have no time to move bavk into lane 2 to avoid it. The following Ganty shows the lane open.

Our Response:
Highways England announced that penalties would be imposed for driving in a closed lane from spring 2018. We've contacted them to confirm details and will update the above article when we can.
NoPenaltyPoints - 20-Apr-18 @ 2:25 PM
Hello What are the current penalties for driving under a red X on the smart motorway? For example if Highways closed a road due to an accident. You are passed the gantry prior to the accident and no lane closure is shown. As you approach the accident you moved to the second lane for the safety of the people on the hard shoulder. As you move back into lane 1 you see that a red X has been put above that lane, yoy have no time to move bavk into lane 2 to avoid it. The following Ganty shows the lane open.
Donc0906 - 18-Apr-18 @ 10:34 AM
Hi there all, I've been given a summon for stopping on the motorway, 40-50metres after the 'hard shoulder ends' sign which I DIDN'T SEE...:-( i was told i will get 3 points and £100 I am not worried about the £100 fine but the points more than anything as my current car insurance quoted me a potential increase with the points on, of more than double (£1,514) of my current price I'm paying (£700). I told them I want to go to court for this as it's not fair. I have kept my licence clean for 10 years ....don;t want any points on it either so any ideas what to say or do in court (please only reply if you DO know, don't just suppose things and share them) Does anyone know for sure what should I expect from the hearing day as I've never been to Court let alone for a driving offence ....I have no clue how to speak, what to say, etc.
Marc D. - 12-Mar-18 @ 9:47 AM
Big Wes - Your Question:
I was driving on the M74 in Glasgow earlier tonight and I was doing below 60mph in the left lane but there was another car in the middle lane and I just saw this flash. I was doing under the speed limit but I nearly undertook the car that was in the middle lane. My question is, can you get flashed for undertaking on the motorway?

Our Response:
We really don't know the answer to this sorry. It seems unlikely though.
NoPenaltyPoints - 19-Jan-18 @ 1:00 PM
I was driving on the M74 in Glasgow earlier tonight and I was doing below 60mph in the left lane but there was another car in the middle lane and I just saw this flash. I was doing under the speed limit but I nearly undertook the car that was in the middle lane. My question is, can you get flashed for undertaking on the motorway?.
Big Wes - 16-Jan-18 @ 10:35 PM
Nelo - Your Question:
I was stopped on M25 Exit wisley to Cobham abut 17:30 because I was at long queue to Guildford then I saw the blue Board ( NO HARD SHOULDER FOR 550 YARDS) I put 2 tyres at the hard shoulder to join the left lane to Cobham because is clear and police stop me, he just told me I am driving on hard shoulder ask for my driving license He back ofter 10 minutes with a course or 3 points on the license. I just check the paper when I got home. He put at paper like I am driving on hard shoulder and he put the no body in the car so I got a Customer with me and I got 90% sure I just turned ofter the blue board so the ticket have false information. I like to know what to do because I don’t want take 3 points in my license I have no chance to speak with the police and he knows I got a customer this is a normal way to Stop the drivers, I don’t mind to do the course but 3 points for this no way

Our Response:
If you dispute this you must be prepared to attend court and may be asked for evidence that you were not on the hard shoulder. The penalty could be more severe if you are not able to prove your case. If you decide to reject the FPN we stronly advise seeking professional legal advice.
NoPenaltyPoints - 11-Dec-17 @ 2:07 PM
I was stopped on M25 Exit wisley to Cobham abut 17:30 because I was at long queue to Guildford then I saw the blue Board ( NO HARD SHOULDER FOR 550 YARDS) I put 2 tyres at the hard shoulder to join the left lane to Cobham because is clear and police stop me, he just told me I am driving on hard shoulder ask for my driving license He back ofter 10 minutes with a course or 3 points on the license. I just check the paper when I got home. He put at paper like I am driving on hard shoulder and he put the no body in the car so I got a Customer with me and I got 90% sure I just turned ofter the blue board so the ticket have false information. I like to know what to do because I don’t want take 3 points in my license I have no chance to speak with the police and he knows I got a customer this is a normal way to Stop the drivers, I don’t mind to do the course but 3 points for this no way
Nelo - 10-Dec-17 @ 4:25 PM
I was travelling on the m4 in wales today they where setting out road works in lane 2&3 the road works where not complete and the road was free again. I moved out into the outside lane and then went back up to 70 I then notice a red x over the lane I was in and 40mph sign over the left hand lane however the cars in that lane where breaking sharply and I didnt believe I could make a safely into the lane without causing an accident so I looked ahead as their was nothing I continued on but I was then flashed. Does anyone know what penalty if any this carries as all I can find is that the department of Transport are looking to introduce penalties in early 2018.
Haawk - 8-Dec-17 @ 12:43 AM
I was pulled over because I was using the hard shoulder, i got sent a letter asking for my licence and £100, I sent the £100 but not my licence, now I been sent a letter asking for a plea. What will happen in court? Will I lose my licence? What type of fine will I get?
Jiggy - 23-Nov-17 @ 1:42 PM
Fozzy- Your Question:
Been issued doing 48 on a restricted 40 zone am I wrong to think it’s harsh and could cost me my job very worried

Our Response:
At this speed you can expect a fixed penalty of 3 points plus £100 fine or the offer of Speed Awareness Course. We're not sure why you think it's harsh?
NoPenaltyPoints - 20-Oct-17 @ 3:14 PM
Been issued doing 48 on a restricted 40 zone am I wrong to think it’s harsh and could cost me my job very worried
Fozzy - 18-Oct-17 @ 2:24 PM
Mitch - Your Question:
Can you be sent a fixed penalty notice for driving on the hard shoulder, without being pulled over ?

Our Response:
Yes you can be issued with a Fixed Penalty for this but only after you have confirmed your indentity by responding to a Notice of Intended Prosecution
NoPenaltyPoints - 24-May-17 @ 11:50 AM
Can you be sent a fixed penalty notice for driving on the hard shoulder, without being pulled over ?
Mitch - 23-May-17 @ 8:02 AM
Crow - Your Question:
Hi I was stopped on the motorway.l a couple miles after joining it. I accelarated into the high 90s, possibly slightly quicker for a few seconds and rhen pulled over into eh middle lane slowing with a view to existing the motorway in a mile or so. Flashing lights in the mirror.pulled over.a heavy telling off PNC check etc. The officer was fair with me and I went on my way. He told me I would receive a notice of prosecution within 6 months and did not issue a ticket, just showed me the video of myself in the distance and the speed he had to do in order to catch me (106). At no point did he tell me the speed I was doing. He made notes on his notebook and sent me on my way. I'm left wondering whether he has been generous or whether to expect a summons etc? Any views please?

Our Response:
If he said you'd be issued with an NIP within 6 months, then that's probably what you should expect.
NoPenaltyPoints - 31-Mar-17 @ 2:46 PM
Hi I was stopped on the motorway.l a couple miles after joining it. I accelarated into the high 90s, possibly slightly quicker for a few seconds and rhen pulled over into eh middle lane slowing with a view to existing the motorway in a mile or so. Flashing lights in the mirror ....pulled over...a heavy telling off PNC check etc. The officer was fair with me and I went on my way. He told me I would receive a notice of prosecution within 6 months and did not issue a ticket, just showed me the video of myself in the distance and the speed he had to do in order to catch me (106).At no point did he tell me the speed I was doing. He made notes on his notebook and sent me on my way.I'm left wondering whether he has been generous or whether to expect a summons etc?Any views please?
Crow - 31-Mar-17 @ 12:03 AM
i was coming off the motor way doing 80mph and coming to a road of 50mph didn't slow down on time and i got a letter in the post 3months down the line, they wanted to identify the driver and i did admit it was me and i had a 6pts giving to me. thats a bit harsh isn't it.
Pete - 27-Mar-17 @ 10:13 PM
Very worried from confusing satnav and motorway signage today 10/01/17. Satnav directed keep to left hand lane, exit junction 19 (I think it was from trip this morning) A stretch of motorway I am not all that familiar with. Discovered I was driving along hardshoulder that looked like it was part of main motorway only at the end if the stretch of road did it make clear was end of (no other signage indicating was a hard shoulder) traffic seemed to be in lane to my right to be heading for London (M4) with only one vehicle coming out of to exit 19 M32 (?) Now suffering anxiety a fine and points will follow, a lost licence perhaps, as other offences exceeded 30mph in the city. Feeling quite hard done by as not a mad bad driver and almost got to April / August 2017 when 6 points come off. Help someone.. please I need to keep my licence to keep my clients and staff jobs commuting between two offices , one in a rural location. Feeling down.
Dillon - 10-Jan-17 @ 10:20 PM
Stupidsatnav - Your Question:
Help me out, I was using a sat nav the other day on the m6 just before junction 4 and it told me to get in the left hand land - the picture showed 4 lanes so this makes the most left Lane the hard sholder - and I blindly followed it - will I get in trouble as I have seen from this site that I've committed an offence and I'm terrified I'll lose my license- haven't long passed. help!

Our Response:
Unless the motorway hard shoulder was in use (some motorways use these when road works are in operation and there are sections of the M6 where the hard shoulder is used to help traffic flow at busy times. The standard penalty for driving on the hard shoulder is £100 fine and 3 penalty points.
NoPenaltyPoints - 14-Nov-16 @ 12:17 PM
Help me out, I was using a sat nav the other day on the m6 just before junction 4 and it told me to get in the left hand land - the picture showed 4 lanes so this makes the most left Lane the hard sholder - and I blindly followed it - will I get in trouble as I have seen from this site that I've committed an offence and I'm terrified I'll lose my license- haven't long passed.... help!
Stupidsatnav - 12-Nov-16 @ 1:55 PM
Hello, I did something really stupid on the way to work today... A van pulled out on me when I was overtaking on the motorway no signal or nothing so I slammed my brakes on and the abs came on... I was then really mad and it looked like he was pulling over into the left lane as there was no traffic in the left hand lane... He half pulled over and I overtook him but went over the central reservation and now I'm really worried he will have a dash cam or something. This is something I would never ever do! I'm so mad at myself! What would happen to me if he does have a dash cam?
TracyB - 25-Aug-16 @ 10:20 AM
Janet - Your Question:
I can't believe I've been so stupid. Just returned from a motorway trip where there was an incident (a car on fire on h/shoulder) which caused overhead signs of advisory speeds of 50 and then 20, and then when I was virtually on top of the incident there was red flashing Xs overhead on (I think) all lanes except the extreme left, which was full of cars turning off the motorway at a junction. I have never seen red X before, and in the split second available, I couldn't work out what they meant - some lorries and a few cars in front of me were taking the extreme right hand lane and going straight on, regardless of the red X, so I did the same. Now I've got home and researched it on the internet / Highway Code, I see that I should have not proceeded and in doing so committed an offence. I'm really worried, and in all my years of Motorway Driving, I have never seen these signs, but did not intend to break the law. Will I be receiving a prosecution in the post? Why did so many lorries and cars in front of me also ignore it? I don't remember seeing a signal saying that we HAD to turn off the m/way - stupidly I just assumed that all the cars doing so wanted to leave at that Junction, which was a busy Bristol one.

Our Response:
The penalty for proceeding in a red x lane can a fine of up to £1000 and 3 penalty points.
NoPenaltyPoints - 8-Aug-16 @ 11:56 AM
I can't believe I've been so stupid.Just returned from a motorway trip where there was an incident (a car on fire on h/shoulder) which caused overhead signs of advisory speeds of 50 and then 20, and then when I was virtually on top of the incident there was red flashing Xs overhead on (I think) all lanes except the extreme left, which was full of cars turning off the motorway at a junction.I have never seen red X before, and in the split second available, I couldn't work out what they meant - some lorries and a few cars in front of me were taking the extreme right hand lane and going straight on, regardless of the red X, so I did the same.Now I've got home and researched it on the internet / Highway Code, I see that I should have not proceeded and in doing so committed an offence. I'm really worried, and in all my years of Motorway Driving, I have never seen these signs, but did not intend to break the law. Will I be receiving a prosecution in the post? Why did so many lorries and cars in front of me also ignore it? I don't remember seeing a signal saying that we HAD to turn off the m/way - stupidly I just assumed that all the cars doing so wanted to leave at that Junction, which was a busy Bristol one.
Janet - 7-Aug-16 @ 7:30 PM
@basslick. Unlikely, they'd just send it back asking for your signature.
NoPenaltyPoints - 3-Sep-14 @ 12:38 PM
Got clocked at 66 in a 50 temp limit m1. Roadworks.. have heard if I dont sign declaration but give details on form it may be thrown out of court on a technicality. . Is this true ? Has anyone done it.?
basslick77 - 2-Sep-14 @ 3:45 PM
SPEEDING ON THE MOTORWAY [MI.]AT BARNSLEY.DOING 60 MPH IN A 50 MPH ZONE, ROADWORKS WERE IN PLACE NOT HEAVY TRAFFIC ,DRY WEATHER . ANY ADVICE.?
bill - 20-Mar-14 @ 7:36 PM
The law is one thing but what actually happens is something else.For example my car was clipped by a 40 ton lorry (uninsured according to my insurers who stated that any chance of compensation would be extremely small) I bought a wing, "chin", wheel, tyre and steering rack on eBay and made repairs myself.As the parts cost less than my £250 excess my "Comprehensive Plus" insurer didn't want to know!I had legal cover covering me up to £250 but the haulage firm didn't reply to any of the legal insurers letters.At the posh body-shop my car would have been a write-off.Its like a third world country as how can uninsured 40 ton lorries pass ANPR? (Oh insured for a different driver was it?)This country is FUBAR.
Davey - 31-Dec-11 @ 12:03 AM
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