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Moving on: The impact of a motoring conviction on your criminal record

This month, we’ve written a further article for InsideTime ‘Through the Gate’ Section which focuses on the impact of a motoring conviction on your criminal record.

A copy of the article can be found below.

For anyone serving a prison sentence of less than 4 years your conviction will be spent (under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974) at some time in the future. The time it takes depends on the specific sentence. However, motoring convictions are treated slightly differently which can cause confusion and often results in people failing to disclose something they need to disclose.


Some driving offences can result in your licence being revoked (i.e. you’re banned from driving) or even a prison sentence. However, in addition to these specific disposals your driving licence is usually endorsed.

In the days of paper licences, it was really easy to see that your licence had been endorsed. After you’d appeared in court, you’d normally be asked to send off your licence to the DVLA who would return it to you with a code added; for example SP30 (if you’ve been found guilty of speeding on a public road) or DR10 (for a drink driving conviction). Now that we no longer have paper licences, endorsements are kept electronically by the DVLA.

If you’re unsure whether you’ve got an endorsement, it’s possible to check your own driving licence using the DVLA Shared Driving Licence Scheme or alternatively, apply for a Subject Access Request from ACRO Criminal Records Office; both are done online.

When do motoring convictions become spent?

In terms of when your conviction becomes spent, it’s important to note that any endorsement imposed by a court for a road traffic offence is treated as a sentence under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Every endorsement has a five year ‘rehabilitation period’ (which is the time it takes to become spent).

For example, if Mr Smith is banned from driving for three years, the time it takes for his conviction to become spent would be three years. However, Mr Smith was also given an endorsement, which means that his conviction would not actually become spent for 5 years as it would be based on the disposal with the longest rehabilitation period.

Further information on the rehabilitation periods for specific motoring convictions can be found on our website.

If you already have an unspent conviction and get another one before the first one is spent, then neither conviction becomes spent until the rehabilitation period for both offences ends. For example, Jamie received a 3 year prison sentence for possession and supply of drugs. His conviction was due to become spent in January 2019 but in December 2018 he was convicted of using a mobile phone whilst driving and received a £200 fine. This means that neither conviction would now become spent until December 2023.

Endorsements and your driving licence

The length of time that motoring offences stay on your licence is governed by road traffic legislation and is completely separate to the time it takes for it to become spent. An endorsement may be removed from your licence after 4 years but you’d still need to disclose it to employers/insurers for 5 years if asked. Likewise, an endorsement that remained on your licence for 11 years would become spent after 5 years and wouldn’t need to be disclosed.

Fixed Penalty Notices for road traffic offences

A Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) can be used to deal with minor traffic offences, but it is not a criminal conviction or a caution unless it relates to a road traffic offence listed in Section 2 of the Road Traffic Act 1988.

Getting insurance with a motoring conviction

The majority of high street insurers will refuse you car insurance if you have an unspent motoring conviction. If you find yourself in this situation then you’ll need to purchase your insurance through a broker. Unlock has a list of specialist car insurance brokers which can be found online.


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Photo of Head of Advice, Debbie Sadler
Debbie Sadler
Head of Advice

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