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Risk of Swapping Responsibility for a Driving Offence

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 30 Jul 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Penalty Points Swapping Driving Offence

Drivers who ask others to take responsibility for their driving offence are at risk of receiving a driving disqualification or even a prison sentence. Amazingly, around half a million people are thought to have committed this offence in the UK.

Taking the Blame for a Driving Offence

According to the results of surveys undertaken by motoring organisations such as the AA, swapping responsibility for a driving offence is common. This offence is commonly referred to as penalty points swapping, and in some cases drivers have actually paid others to take the responsibility. Penalty points swapping basically means that a driver who has committed an offence asks another person to assume the responsibility. A survey undertaken by Swinton Insurers found that 3.7 million motorists would have no problem with asking another to assume responsibility for a driving offence. According to the AA, it is thought that around 300,000 drivers, a large percentage of which is male, may be guilty of penalty points swapping.

Why Drivers Swap Penalty Points

Penalty points swapping is usually undertaken to ensure that drivers who may have committed an offence do not rack up enough penalty points to receive a driving ban. Drivers will also ask others to take responsibility in order to keep their licence clean and free from points. Many drivers will ask family members or friends to take the responsibility for the driving offence. There can be many reasons for points swapping including avoiding disqualification, losing a job that requires a clean driving licence and avoiding increased car insurance premiums. According to insurance companies there are a large number of drivers on the road who would not be able to obtain insurance unless they had undertaken penalty points swapping.

Driving Offences and Points Swapping

Penalty points swapping is commonly used to beat driving offences such as speeding when caught by a speed camera. Speed cameras can be used to identify drivers coming towards the camera but driving away from the camera is a different matter. Drivers caught speeding can face a minimum three points on their licence but points and punishments can increase depending on the severity of the offence. New drivers need only six points on their licence within two years of passing their test to obtain a driving disqualification. Drivers who think that penalty points swapping is worth the risk should consider the severe punishments that can be applied to this offence.

Penalties and Punishments for Points Swapping

The courts do view penalty points swapping as a very serious offence. Drivers who commit this offence can be faced with the charge of perverting the course of justice. If found guilty, a prison sentence can be applied, and this has happened in the past. Drivers have been known to receive prison sentences of between three and nine months, as well as a large fine and a driving disqualification. Additional consequences to being convicted of this offence can include:

  • Loss of employment due to driving ban or unclean licence
  • Increased insurance premiums or the inability to obtain insurance from low cost insurers
  • Paying court costs and legal representation
  • Drivers disqualified under the New Drivers Act may be required to retake lessons and the driving test
  • A criminal record of this type may make it difficult to obtain certain types of employment

Additional Risk to Penalty Points Swapping

Drivers who do consider points swapping also run the risk of being reported to the police by the person they have asked to assume responsibility for the offence. According to the AA survey, 82% of those asked would refuse to assume the responsibility for another driver’s offence. Twelve percent of those surveyed said they would refuse to assume responsibility and would also report the matter to the police. This could then lead to an investigation by the police and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). Only 1% of those who undertook the survey claimed they would actually swap the points if requested by another driver.

When it comes to risk versus consequences the stakes are very high when asking another person to assume responsibility for a driving offence. A few points on a licence or even a driving ban would usually be preferable to receiving a prison sentence. The police and the DVLA will thoroughly investigate drivers they suspect have asked others to assume responsibility for a driving offence. Both the driver who has committed the offence and the person who is intending to take responsibility for the offence can find themselves facing severe consequences for this illegal act.

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Malc - Your Question:
Last December we were in Somerset I was driving the car but it is in my wife's name as the owner. I was caught speeding 37 in a 30. We received all the initial paperwork, and returned straight away, unaware that I didn't sign the the section I completed admitting to being the driver.Apparently there was another form sent to us to complete which we never received. Many weeks past and we didn't hear any further. I telephoned to enquire about the progress of the summons and this is when we discovered above. They sent another form which we completed and posted and paid recorded delivery. Again we heard nothing for months, again I telephoned, spoke to someone at the Magistrates and was told that they couldn't find the files, after five minutes came back to say they were with the police awaiting proceedings. We waited lots of weeks again with no response, again I telephoned again with a similar outcome. Sometime later we received a Notice of Prosecution with an added charge of with helping information about who was driving, which we previously admitted was me. Again I telephoned the Magistrates explained, they went through the files, without saying it, admitted not reading my statement of admittance and asking my wife the vehicle owner to send another letter, which we duely did, telling the whole story again, also again we registered post. Since then we have heard nothing. I have admitted I was the driver, I have admitted speeding, I explained why, that I barley needed the toilet as I suffer from IBS, I listed the five drugs I had taken that morning. Also in December when this occurred we were informed our daughter has cancer, we had also sold our property and in the process of moving to Somerset, so were pretty stressed anyway. We are both retired, both got clean licenses. We have to attend court on the 2nd of August, we haven't any legal representation and worried how we approach this matter, please could you advise, we are in a state. Many Thanks.

Our Response:
It's best to attend the hearing. Write down what you have said above so it can be clearly understood by the magistrate. Citizens' Advice will be able to help you with any concerns you have recording the legal/court system, they also sometimes have lawyers working on a voluntary basis who may be able to help.
NoPenaltyPoints - 31-Jul-18 @ 9:54 AM
Last December we were in Somerset I was driving the car but it is in my wife's name as the owner. I was caught speeding 37 in a 30. We received all the initial paperwork, and returned straight away, unaware that I didn't sign the the section I completed admitting to being the driver. Apparently there was another form sent to us to complete which we never received. Many weeks past and we didn't hear any further. I telephoned to enquire about the progress of the summons and this is when we discovered above. They sent another form which we completed and posted and paid recorded delivery. Again we heard nothing for months, again I telephoned, spoke to someone at the Magistrates and was told that they couldn't find the files, after five minutes came back to say they were with the police awaiting proceedings. We waited lots of weeks again with no response, again I telephoned again with a similar outcome. Sometime later we received a Notice of Prosecution with an added charge of with helping information about who was driving, which we previously admitted was me. Again I telephoned the Magistrates explained, they went through the files, without saying it, admitted not reading my statement of admittanceand asking my wife the vehicle owner to send another letter, which we duely did, telling the whole story again, also again we registered post. Since then we have heard nothing. I have admitted I was the driver, I have admitted speeding, I explained why, that I barley needed the toilet as I suffer from IBS, I listed the five drugs I had taken that morning. Also in December when this occurred we were informed our daughter has cancer, we had also sold our property and in the process of moving to Somerset, so were pretty stressed anyway. We are both retired, both got clean licenses. We have to attend court on the 2nd of August, we haven't any legal representation and worried how we approach this matter, please could you advise, we are in a state. Many Thanks.
Malc - 30-Jul-18 @ 4:35 AM
3 years ago a ex partner with no driving licence or insurance took my car with out convent. He was involved in a accident and give a named driver on my policy (I am all legal) and I panicked when insurance company contacted me afraid I would end up in prison. I had a letter saying no further action would be taken or any claims. I have now had a letter wanting to claim money for damage. Addressed to my name driver. What would happen to me if I say what really happened? Would I be looking at points or a criminal conviction? Or shall I just agree a payment plan to pay back the claim? Don't want to go through insurance for above reasons.
Louise - 26-Mar-18 @ 12:50 AM
Tim - Your Question:
I got a NIP for not stopping at a light I’d gone throught by 1.1 seconds. I have attended a speed awareness course so I don’t think I’d be offered anything else similar. And I can’t afford to take the points as I already have 11. I went through as I thought it was safer to do so instead of braking hard (the surface was wet).

Our Response:
You can still be offered a driver awareness course if your previous one was for speeding. You may be able to present your mitigation argument in court if you plead guilty but it's risky, so you may want to consider seeking professional legal advice.
NoPenaltyPoints - 19-Jan-18 @ 2:35 PM
I got a NIP for not stopping at a light I’d gone throught by 1.1 seconds. I have attended a speed awareness course so I don’t think I’d be offered anything else similar. And I can’t afford to take the points as I already have 11. I went through as I thought it was safer to do so instead of braking hard (the surface was wet).
Tim - 11-Jan-18 @ 3:08 PM
Hi, I was driving my car with insurance on me. With provisional driving license. And I had supervisor next to me, with 2 years and 8 months full driving license. I had car accident.What penalty I am facing right now? Are my insurance going to be invalid?
dsfadsf - 17-Jun-17 @ 6:29 PM
Is it legal to drive on your on to work on a provisional licence I'm wondering a believed you could once you are travelling to work or education??
Patrick - 2-Feb-17 @ 6:41 PM
Janjua - Your Question:
Have a license which was revoked in November can I drive the car still

Our Response:
Not if your licence was revoked?
NoPenaltyPoints - 13-Dec-16 @ 2:42 PM
Have a license which was revoked in November can I drive the car still
Janjua - 12-Dec-16 @ 11:33 PM
MrN - Your Question:
I was caught going through a red light, I maintain the light was at amber and I felt it was safer to go through than to try and stop so close to the line, when pulled over the police informed me my license had expired and I had been driving without a license, I was unaware that this was the case, I had insurance, MOT and road tax on the vehicle, what can I expect in the way of penalties, and should I contest the red light offence?

Our Response:
The penalty for runnign a red light is usually £100 fine plus 3 penalty points, sometimes you may be offered a driver awareness course as an alternative. When you say your licence had expired, is this your photo licence or are you over 70 and have not renewed? The photocard offence could incur a fine of up to £1000 and the penalty for driving without the correct licence is between 3 and 6 points.
NoPenaltyPoints - 16-Jun-16 @ 12:22 PM
I was caught going through a red light, I maintain the light was at amber and I felt it was safer to go through than to try and stop so close to the line, when pulled over the police informed me my license had expired and I had been driving without a license, I was unaware that this was the case, I had insurance, MOT and road tax on the vehicle, what can I expect in the way of penalties, and should I contest the red light offence?
MrN - 15-Jun-16 @ 10:24 AM
sj - Your Question:
If I get 3 points for skipping a red light, how long will those 3 points stay on my licence before being removed?

Our Response:
The points will remain on your licence for 4 years.
NoPenaltyPoints - 4-May-16 @ 11:46 AM
if i get 3 points for skipping a red light, how long will those 3 points stay on my licence before being removed?
sj - 1-May-16 @ 3:36 PM
Ali - Your Question:
Hi I got conditional offer letter for skipping red light but I'm not sure when I crossed the red light as I made mistake,if I say that in court will I still get points? Police offered me AA tech course I paid for it but I couldn't go coz I had family problem and I forgot if I say that in court will I still get punishment? Or if I increase my fine ask judge to give me more of fine and no points for example I want to pay more money and I don't want to be banned from driving will it work ?I have received this in jan 2016 it said on letter and I didn't reply so when will I get court letter?Please read all question carefully and answer thank you

Our Response:
The judge will decide what penalty to impose. The failed to attend the course and did not tell the provider will not be in your favour, nor will the fact that you have not repsonsed to subsequent communications. We would not advise you to simply ask for a larger fine in lieu of an alternative punishment as that is not how the system operates.
NoPenaltyPoints - 8-Apr-16 @ 12:31 PM
Hi I got conditional offer letter for skipping red light but I'm not sure when I crossed the red light as I made mistake,if I say that in court will I still get points? Police offered me AA tech course I paid for it but I couldn't go coz I had family problem and I forgot if I say that in court will I still get punishment? Or if I increase my fine ask judge to give me more of fine and no points for example I want to pay more money and I don't want to be banned from driving will it work ? I have received this in jan 2016 it said on letter and I didn't reply so when will I get court letter? Please read all question carefully and answer thank you
Ali - 7-Apr-16 @ 4:44 AM
Boothy- Your Question:
Hi I haven't got a full driving license and I let my friend drive my car with out a license he wasn't looking where he was going and he crashed it in to another car what will happen in court

Our Response:
That will be for the judge to decide, a ban from driving is the most likely result. Allowing a person to drive your vehicle without insurance can result in 6 to 8 points on your licence.
NoPenaltyPoints - 2-Mar-16 @ 9:56 AM
Hi I haven't got a full driving licenseand I let my frienddrive my car with out a license he wasn't looking where he was going and he crashed it in to another car what will happen in court
Boothy - 28-Feb-16 @ 4:10 AM
JS - Your Question:
Hi a colleague today approached me and asked if he could use my name for a driving offence he has received. I told him no but I am worried that he may put down my details anyway, as he knows that at the beginning of april I am emmigrating to a different country. What will happen if he does give my details?Thanks

Our Response:
Check with the police/DVLA to make sure your name has not been used in connection with any offences.
NoPenaltyPoints - 11-Feb-16 @ 2:46 PM
Hi a colleague today approached me and asked if he could use my name for a driving offence he has received. I told him no but i am worried that he may put down my details anyway, as he knows that at the beginning of april I am emmigrating to a different country. What will happen if he does give my details? Thanks
JS - 10-Feb-16 @ 5:48 PM
SJ - Your Question:
HI,Just want some advice, I was caught outside my house driving my vehicle I was learning in, as I was driving on my own on my prov, this then made my insurance void.I have received the court summons, for june, but have my practical driving test for 10th March. Should I wait till june to put in for my test? How does it work with the 6 to 8 point etc

Our Response:
Contact the police and ask them for advice on driving before your court appearance (unless they have already informed you that you are not supposed to be driving at all). If you are given 6 or more points your licence is revoked under the new drivers act.
NoPenaltyPoints - 4-Feb-16 @ 12:37 PM
HI, Just want some advice, i was caught outside my house driving my vehicle i was learning in, as i was driving on my own on my prov, this then made my insurance void. I have received the court summons, for june, but have my practical driving test for 10th March. Should i wait till june to put in for my test? How does it work with the 6 to 8 point etc
SJ - 3-Feb-16 @ 10:53 AM
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