Thorley Stephenson, Edinburgh Law Firm

Thorley Stephenson SSC is an Edinburgh based law firm providing a wide range of legal services in family, child and criminal court cases throughout Scotland. Tel: 0131 556 9599
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Road Traffic Offences – FAQ’s

The consequences that come with a road traffic offence conviction can be difficult and may have a great impact on your life. If you are facing prosecution for a road traffic offence, have been stopped by the police or simply want to know how the law in this area works, we understand you might have some questions. That is why we have put together some of the most commonly asked questions in the area of road traffic law. However, if you need answers not featured on this page, or require specialist legal advice in relation to a road traffic offence contact our specialist team today.

Can the police stop me whilst driving where I have done nothing wrong?

The police have the power to stop any vehicle at any time, regardless of whether the driver has done anything wrong. The police do not need to give you a reason as to why they have stopped you, and they may ask you to produce your driving licence, insurance certificate and vehicle registration. If you do not have these documents with you, you have seven days to produce them at your local police station.  If the police suspect that you may have been driving under the influence of alcohol, they may breathalyse you. If the police witness you committing a traffic offence, you may be issued with either a fixed penalty notice or a defect rectification notice. The police also have the power to arrest you under certain circumstances for any offence and serious road traffic offences may result in imprisonment. If you are facing a road traffic offence or have been stopped by the police and are not sure what to do next, contact our specialist team today.

How do penalty points work?

If in any 3-year period you accumulate 12 penalty points on your licence you will be liable for what is known as ‘totting up’ disqualification. The three-year period takes into account the dates of the offences, not the dates of conviction for offences. The period of disqualification for totting-up disqualification is normally a minimum of six months but may be up to two years depending on whether you have been disqualified from driving before. It is possible to avoid totting-up disqualification if you can demonstrate that such a ban on driving would cause you ‘exceptional hardship’.

You can also be disqualified for the offences themselves without ‘totting up’ 12 or more penalty points.

I have been issued a fixed penalty notice (FPN), what does this mean?

Where you have committed a minor traffic offence, such as not wearing a seatbelt, you may be issued with a one-off fine – this is called a Fixed penalty Notice. Offences which do not result in points on your licence will usually incur a fine of £30. Fines for speeding are normally £60. More serious offences such as driving without a licence may incur fines of up to £200.  The police cannot make you pay the fine on the spot, instead, you will be given 28 days to pay the fixed penalty, alternatively you may request a hearing to contest the fine. If you do not pay the fine within the 28-day period, it will increase by 50% and you will be reported for prosecution.

I have been issued a vehicle defect rectification notice, what does this mean?

You may be issued a vehicle defect rectification notice where your vehicle is defective. This could be, for example, if one of your lights is out or your indicator is broken. If you are issued a vehicle defect rectification notice you must fix the defect and also provide proof such as a receipt for the repairs. You will be given a time period to present this at your local police station.

Is there a time limit for bringing a case against me?

Normally, any driving related case should be brought against you within six months of the offence taking place. For certain offences, you must be warned that a possible prosecution may be brought against you at the time the offence occurred, or as the registered keeper of the vehicle, you must be given a notice of intended prosecution within 14 days of the offence taking place.

What could happen if I am caught driving whilst disqualified?

Driving whilst disqualified is a very serious offence and if you are caught doing so, you may be imprisoned for up to six months. You are more likely to be imprisoned where you were recently disqualified. The period of imprisonment for driving whilst disqualified is generally between 12 and 26 weeks and generally will depend on how recent your disqualification was. It is also possible that a community order will be imposed where you are not given a prison sentence.

If you are convicted of driving whilst disqualified you may be subject to further disqualification, normally between 12-18 months beyond the period for which you are already disqualified and the disqualification happened recently, or between 6-12 months where most of your current disqualification has already passed.

If you have served your entire period of disqualification but have not yet taken another driving test, the additional period of disqualification is likely to be between three and six months. This offence will also incur six penalty points, however, they will not be imposed if you are further disqualified.


Thorley Stephenson understands the importance of protecting your licence and the impact that prosecution in this area may have upon you and your family.Based in Edinburgh, Scotland, we provide a personally and professional service and have solicitors who can appear in all the Criminal Courts in Scotland.

Thorley Stephenson also represents the victims of road traffic accidents with personal injury claims advice and representation.


Thorley Stephenson SSC’s road traffic solicitors aim to provide clients with the best possible legal advice and representation for them on all types of road traffic law matters. Please contact us today on 0131 341 1877 to speak to one of our solicitors.

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